I almost did it. I swear.
I almost tore the things right out of my head. Except that would have hurt. I mean, really, really hurt.
But I had to see it. I had the picture right there in my hand. My wife had printed a new copy for me because she said I'd ruined the first one she printed for me right before the surgery. So, this time I was being very careful with it as they unwrapped the bandages.
I don't know why I was so afraid. Okay, that's a lie. I was afraid because I'd been blind for so long. I hadn't been blind longer than I'd been sighted but, well, yes I had. I mean, you can barely see anything that first year, right? Anyway, that's not the point. The point is, I'd spent my entire adult life blind.
And I was scared. I found myself asking some of the same questions I'd asked myself after that horrible surgery. I started thinking about those first days in the hospital which got me thinking about Augustus.
Then I tried to imagine what he would say. Of course I was going to get the implants. Of course I was going to take the opportunity to see my wife's face for the first time.
And the picture.
The picture Hazel took. The one of Augustus and I egging… Holy crap! I couldn't remember her name. I can't believe how destroyed I was and now I couldn't even remember her name.
But I remember Hazel. I remember Augustus.
The bandages were gone and I was sitting there with my new eyes closed tight shut.
The doctor told me to open them and I saw the light. I squinted and my tear ducts filled. I wondered if anyone in the room knew it wasn't just the light causing the tears.
When he was satisfied he moved back and a face filled my new field of vision. The red hair gave her away. Though I'd never seen it, I knew my wife had red hair.
Her ginger eyebrows were drawn together. I knew that expression. Something, what was it? Concern! Of course she was concerned. I was just sitting there crying.
I knew what I wanted to say.
"You're so much more." I was suddenly short of breath. "I imagined you were beautiful but you're so much more than that. You're glowing!"
"Glowing?" The doctor's voice was concerned.
"It's a metaphor, doc. Not the implants."
I stared at her green eyes. I memorized the placement of each freckle. Her eyelashes were so long.
She gently touched the hand that was holding the picture.
"Are you ready?" She asked.
I nodded and brought up the photograph.
There we were. Augustus holding a carton of eggs over his head. And the cigarette! The unlit cigarette in his mouth. I laughed out loud as all his metaphors and ironies flooded through my mind.
The green Firebird was dripping bright yellow egg yolks. I wasn't quite looking at the camera but there was the miracle.
I was smiling.
No matter what happened. No matter what I lost; my sight, my true love, my way … Augustus could always bring me back. He could always make me smile.
It really was a good picture. Hazel had done a good job.
I suddenly wished I had a picture of her with me. Still, I knew she'd been there. I remembered all the days we'd spent together before and after Augustus had died.
I missed them so much. I remembered what I'd said to my mom on the way to Hazel's funeral.
"When Augustus died, I had Hazel there to help me get through it. Who do I have now? I don't know if I can do this."
But then his voice was in my head. It was funny how often I imagined what Augustus would say. It was funny how often it was exactly what I needed to hear.
"They're not robot eyes, man." I said softly. "But they'll do."
"Are you okay?" My wife asked.
I looked up at her. I LOOKED at my WIFE.
"Yeah, honey." I laughed. "I'm grand. I'm on a rollercoaster that only goes up."