Wednesday, April 17, 2013

In and Out of Focus

I was a terrible photography student.

It wasn't that Shannon didn't try. I just didn't get it.

I couldn't even master the simple stuff--like getting photographs in focus.

Focus should be simple enough, right?

Use your auto focus. Focus on the subject. Make sure the light is sufficient so the shutter isn't open too long, causing you to miss the precious action shot. Steady your camera. And, don't forget depth of field--unless you want your subject to be only thing you see clearly.

But surveying my photographs, I see my focus is...






I realized today that my focus in life is much like the focus of my, out--fleeting, inconsistent, frustrating, and beautiful, even in its imperfections.

Join me as I focus in, and try to capture a picture of what I am talking about...

About a month ago, I was running late to pick up the kids from school. Almost as soon as I got on the road, a school bus pulled out in front of me and stopped. Great.

Then it just sat there. And sat there.

I drummed my fingers on the steering wheel and sighed heavily. I remember muttering something that sounded a whole lot like, "Jesus!" (and not in that biblical sort of way).


Just when I felt like laying down on the horn, the back of the bus opened up and the wheelchair ramp was lowered to let a boy who looked to be 10-12 years old out.

At that point, I felt like the ground should open and swallow me for being such an impatient, heartless...


I looked up and asked God to forgive my short-sighted, self-centered thinking, and I thanked Him for the two healthy children I was about to pick up (albeit late).

I drove on, in focus...

As I walked into school, the director stops me and pulls me into her office. Surely she wants to share something cute and funny my kids did today.

What? Results from an eye screening? What eye screening? I knew about it. I am sure I did. Okay, so maybe I forgot. What results?


Drew. Serious issues indicated. Follow up as soon as possible with an eye doctor. Emily's fine. Drew. Bad. Eyes.

OUT, really OUT.

It's 4:30 on a Friday. I am freaking out. Calling pediatrician for a referral. Calling the eye doctor for an appointment--for thirty minutes ago. Texting. Googling. Freaking...


Sometime later (maybe days later), the focus came back


Almost everything I read or heard indicated that the issue was treatable, maybe even correctable. Early detection and treatment were critical, and we'd definitely caught it early.

Thank goodness for screening. Thank goodness it was his just his eyes.

What were patches and glasses when I watched too many people around me deal with real tragedy--traumatic brain injuries, kids lost to freak accidents, friends battling cancer?

Who was I to whine about eyes and cosmetic concerns?

My focus was so...


After several weeks of waiting, our appointment with the pediatric ophthalmologist finally came.

This morning, I held Drew as the doctor dilated his eyes and looked at his pupils 47 different ways--47 different ways that all said the same thing...

My baby has a bad eye.

And just like that, my focus was way, way...


Drew has pretty severe hyperopia. This is a refractive error that many people call farsightedness, but the doctor says farsightedness really isn't an accurate term for what Drew experiences. While there is serious misalignment in his eyes, he can actually see okay up close and far away. The problem is that it's mainly his left eye doing all the work. It's compensating for the difference, and this difference is causing amblyopia, which is often called "lazy eye."

Because Drew's eyes look so normal, he's the classic example of why they do the camera screenings in preschools.

Without treatment, the amblyopia can lead to permanent vision loss in the weaker eye.

I must stop the medical explanations at this point to confess that only half of this information was intelligible to me at the appointment because my eyes were watery and my focus was completely, utterly...


While we waited for the drops to dilate his eyes, I came somewhat back


focus, as I digested what the doctor had said. We'd start immediately with glasses. After six weeks, we'll recheck and see if alignment is improving once the hyperopia is addressed. If not, we'd talk about patching the good eye to help the "lazy" eye strengthen. How could I not be IN when there was a plan? How could I not be IN when I was blessed enough to have the means to pay for his treatment, to fix a problem that so many could only hope to correct?

I was


for 30 minutes.

Until the doctor signed the prescription and handed it to me with paper sunglasses for Drew to wear until his eyes recovered from the dilation. And just like that, I was...


How will he handle the glasses? What about sports? What about kids picking on him? What about...

My depth of field was so shallow, so focused on what was right there but really so far away...

As I smiled on the outside and told Drew how cool his glasses were, inwardly I was so fuzzy, so blurry.

In the middle of the blur, I took a call and learned that yet another friend is now facing cancer. And, just like that, God corrected my focus yet again.




I'll take the glasses. I'll take the disappointment. I'll take the uncertainty.

Because, right now, right here, I see very clearly, very sharply, how blessed I am.

Glasses. A bad eye.



Just like my photographs, I was focusing on the wrong thing.

I moved too quickly.

I didn't let the light in.

I only focused on what was right in front of me instead of seeing the whole picture.

My prayer tonight is that I can maintain the focus, that I can continue to see what is most important, that I can continue to keep this beautiful picture called life

IN focus.

Oh, and while I am praying, I am also going to ask God for a little help persuading a certain almost 3 year old to keep his cute new glass ON his face once they come in next week!


Suzanne said...

Oh my goodness, I'm so sorry your family is going through this. Thank God it was caught early and you are able to get the treatment now. Despite the topic, I loved this post because it really does speak the truth: we get so lost in the day to day minutia that we forget the precious things we see every day.

Kelly said...

He looks so adorable in his glasses!! Glad it was caught early!
...and how easy it is to get out of focus.

Jen Forbes said...

So glad you caught it early. My son Billy had it too. we got it early as well. He wore glasses and a patch and he was fine after treatment, easy peasy!

You did good moma!

Liz @ A Nut in a Nutshell said...

My little brother had it and it was totally treated and everything worked out just fine!

Olusola said...

The two comments before mine make me feel so much better, I'm thankful to God for early screenings. You're doing good my dear friend & we're blessed to have a God who always keeps us in His focus even when we are distracted.

Drew looks cute as always

MandyE (Twin Trials and Triumphs) said...

I've been thinking about this post since I read it a couple of days ago. You write so beautifully, Melissa. I so appreciate your honesty, too.

It's so hard to keep things in perspective...we're just doing the best we can. Your post is a reminder that we all get distracted by the bumps in the road. I'm pretty sure that's just part of life.

I hope you're breathing easier with a game plan in place now. I hope Drew has an easy transition to his glasses. (My gut is it's probably easier at this young age, versus being older when we're naturally more self-conscious.)

Rest easy,'re a beautiful mama, and you're doing a great job. :) :) Hugs to you!!!

Chrissy McConaughy said...

I just read this. No idea how I missed it last week. But what a precious blog and precious boy! Love you!

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