Grieving the loss of Normal

Tonight as I sit at my laptop, our dog is eating his food, the washer is running and hubby is watching a weather report; things feel normal.  But there not normal.   Captain Jack Carroll (AKA hubby) is almost completely blind in his left eye and before 3 weeks ago, his vision was good.  Two weeks ago he told me there was something in his eye and couldn’t see well, two days later our worlds headed on a course I never imagined.

Both my husband and I have been caregivers to lots of family members but never had I seen anything like this.  On top of that, my husband is a veteran and they are never known for their promptness but they jumped on it.

We were off on an adventure that neither one of us definitely signed up for!  Within the matter of 10 days he has seen 7 eye specialists and a total of 12 doctors including 2 neurologists.  He had two MRI’s, Over 20 tubes of blood drawn and countless eye tests and exams.  At this point I think I can give parts of the eye exam!  And all they want is the cause.  What caused a man in his early 40’s go from 100% to almost no vision in a matter of two weeks?  And if they know the cause, then maybe they can know the best means of treatment.   My questions were different.  I wanted to know if he would ever get his vision back and how fast?  And even a bigger concern, will it go to the other eye?   Or even worse, is this our new normal?


Like most American families, we both drive and have a car we each drive.  Our autonomy is fairly well built in and on top of that, Captain Jack Carroll is the better driver.  Just that fact alone changes things up!  And that doesn’t go down the road of work, how our home runs and really, who’s job it is to clean the litter box.  Our world as we know was changing and no one asked us if it was even okay!  And with that thought, I knew: grief is not just the loss of “___________” , you fill in the blank.  But grief is also loss of how life looks without the whom or what you just put in that blank.  Am I right or what?  We know every human being in our life is not going to live right along side of us until we die, but it’s hard to imagine life without them!  And that was it for me regarding this whole vision thing.  “How God.. how?”  “How are we now going to do life?”  And I wasn’t alone in the questions.  We have been bombarded with questions as well.  “Can he see at all”  “What can he see?”  “Did they say if he can see again?”  “Can he drive?”  “Does he drive?”

The driving one I knew an answer to.  I’ve known people with a glass eye that drove and so “yes, he drives”  In fact his right eye is 20/15!  Now there is something to be thankful for!

But the hardest question to answer and it is asked all the time, “How are you doing?”  And in all honesty, I really don’t know.  As I sat in the office and my husband moved through eye exams my eyes would involuntarily drop tears and I would quickly wipe them away.  Each time, I knew and think to myself “He has lost more vision.”  And then the new doctor would ask could you see more last time?  The answer so far has been yes and a pain to my heart.

As I started this year, I felt God had given me the following verse as the verse for my year: “This one thing I do, forgetting those things behind and reaching towards those things that are ahead.” Philippians 3:13  And this verse had me excited about the thought of not focusing on the negative of yesterday and enjoying what God has for me today.  But what do you do when yesterday had more or in this case, your husband’s vision was always better the day before then it is today.  How can I look forward?  And really that pun is not intended!

The answer is simple and one a friend spoke to me when I was speaking out loud all of my fears.  She simply said, “Anna, don’t you think God knew all of those things happening in your life before Carroll lost his vision?”  And really the bottom line to that one question is this; Do I trust God?  From that moment, as I was posting what was happening with my husband and I on social media, I became a bit more transparent.  A very hard thing for me to do, but really it was keeping me accountable!  And all of these doctors, tests came to a pinnacle today.  We are lead back to this tiny room (The smallest exam room thus far.) To a small stature female doctor who looked at my husband said, “Mr. Tracy you don’t know me but I know everything about your eyes and I am the one who has ordered every test since you arrived here in Portland.”  Carroll’s every move and all these nurses and technicians and ALL of the other specialists were moving according to this sweet young woman’s doing!  And after that very brief talk with her, we were rushed out her door for more of those very tests and then back again, waiting to hear what this orchestrator of events had to say!  Imagine to yourself apart of an orchestra and every musician has their instrument and music in front of them but without the conductor leading them, it would be a mess!  How interesting that I was having to trust this woman’s choices and I had never even met her!   And in all honesty, I have not met God face to face.  I have seen evidence of Him in my life.  I have seen him orchestrate moments I could never recreate!  His hand has been true and His word is faithful!  And a truth of his that “Hope that has seen, is not hope.” (Romans 8:24)   And that leads me to this.  There was an order to how everything was done, but I didn’t realize who was keeping everything in order until that moment!  It wasn’t that little female doctor with a commanding presence but God.

As of this morning, my husband nothing has changed out of his left eye, but we still have hope.  We hope as the vein inclusion responds, his retina and optic nerve will respond as well and the swelling will go down.  (The swelling on the retina and optic nerve is what has diminished the vision in the one eye.)  But we are believing and hoping in what we have not seen and his eye sight will return in that left eye!


Oh God, I Pray I am a willing musician in playing my part well.  Lending my gifts to this orchestra of life.  May the moving and prompting of you through me allow others to be blessed and yet know that You are responsible for all of it!  As I look up to you, my Conductor to my life.  May I be in full trust of when to proceed and when to stop.  When to move strongly and when to quietly ebb through knowing that Your timing is perfect.  And most of all, I pray my obedience is not in fear or in resentment but with utter adoration for You, In Jesus’s name I pray, Amen.

If you find that you are in the process of some kind of grief and you are having to  face a new normal that was not apart of your plan, I leave you with my life verse:

 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Jeremiah 29:11







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