I can’t stop thinking about angels…
They say the eyes are a window to the soul. If this is true then what about the blind? Those who have never seen a sun rise or beheld its descent. Those for whom there is no difference between light and darkness. Those that see with their souls…
The sun is about to set. I can tell from the way it gently caresses my skin like a lover whispering a reluctant goodbye.
I wasn’t born blind but I wish I had been. It would have been better to have never beheld beauty than to have done so and then lost it forever.
It is the little things that I miss the most. My father’s hands and the way mine are formed in the exact same way. My mother’s smile and the way it lights up the dark rooms of my life. My teenage brother’s adolescent frown, the one that never reaches his smiling eyes. My grandmother’s gray head and the way it paints a worthy picture of endings. The flowers, the sea, London at night, Lagos during the day, the rain…
I have never seen his face so it is not on the list of little things that I long for.
“You are beautiful,” he tells me often.
“And you, are you beautiful?” I ask him.
I have traced his face a thousand times but it is not enough. Touch cannot tell me if his skin is the color of plain coffee or if God decided he needed some milk to turn it into a latte or cafe mocha. Touch reveals the occasional pimple and bumps on his face but it can’t tell me if his eyes are as beautiful as his soul.
He asked me to marry three days ago and I asked for time. It has been 4 years since the accident. I have learned to live independently since then. I have counted the steps from the bus stop to my tiny flat in Camden. I know exactly how many minutes it takes to walk from my office to the Starbucks for my midday treat of iced chai tea. I know exactly how many seconds my no longer adolescent brother can stand a hug from his sister. As the years have passed I have known how far to reach to ensure I encapsule his growing body in my arms, how low to bend to reach for parents that seem a little smaller every other time we meet.
I know many things about him too: he loves the band Oasis and his voice is perfect for singing Wonderwall. His favorite type of wine is Moscato. He likes to eat and to cook. He laughs with his belly. He smells like the rain and goodness. His hands are hard but not too hard that they hurt when he grasps my hands. He is gentle and kind. He is thoughtful and has a sense of justice. He is the type that would help an old lady cross the street but ignore the drunken homeless man pleading for a coin to buy food with.
For most people, knowing these things should be enough. But I am not most people. 4 years ago, it would have been enough. But today it isn’t.
“You are beautiful” a voice says startling me from my thoughts.
I smile and turn towards the direction of the voice.
“And you? Are you beautiful?” I ask.
He doesn’t answer. He doesn’t need to. This is routine, it is how we greet each other. Besides I know the answer to the question already.
He comes to sit beside me and together we look out on the Thames.
“I don’t think I can say yes,” I tell him when enough time has passed.
“Why?” He asks.
“I am afraid.”
He says nothing. He is a great listener, Peniel is.
“I am afraid that time will pass and love will fade and when love fades the things that didn’t matter before will matter.”
“Like your sight.”
“Like my blindness.”
He says nothing. I am used to this. It is why he is perfect for me. We are both creatures of few words. We stay that way for a while and then he starts to sing.
I laugh then but it doesn’t stop him. He sings like the angel that he is. Tears escape my eyes and I don’t wipe them away.
I awaken to the smell of dinner.
“You were laughing in your sleep,” he tells me when he sees that my nap is over
“Yes, yes I was,” I answer, wondering how the laughter of my dreams can find its way to reality but not my tears.
“Why?” he asks me?
I sit up on the love seat I had fallen asleep on while waiting for him to come cook me dinner. He would have let himself in. He and my mother are the only ones with spare keys to my flat.
“Come,” I tell him, patting the space on tbe couch beside me.
I wait till I can feel him next to me and then I start to sing.
He joins me when I get to the chorus. When we finish the song, I tell him yes to being his Wonderwall. He kisses me till he can’t breathe. I don’t need eyes to know I have made him a very happy man.
He asks me later what helped me make up my mind.
I don’t tell him of that first time I opened my eyes after the accident to see a man, tall, dressed in clothes of blindimg lights. I don’t tell him how instinctively I knew him to be angel or how I immediately knew that seeing something so heavenly beautiful meant I would never again see a decaying world.
I smile at him instead, thankful for eyes that are not windows to the soul. I smile and don’t tell him about dreams where I can see clearly. It is like that time he asked me why I don’t have a service dog. To answer would have meant telling him about things I see that no one else does. This is a foretaste of things to come- these secrets of hidden places that I will never share with him, these treasures of darkness that may someday eclipse the light of our love.
I smile and tell him nothing of guardian angels that know the words to Wonderwall, or of the other mysteries that belong only to those that have made friends with darkness. I smile, kiss him and hope that angels can tell the future, that an angel is right about this man being the one who saves me.
“All all the lights that lead us are blinding
Like to say to you
But I don’t know howBecause maybe
You’re gonna be the one that saves me
And after all
You’re my wonderwall”