Two weeks after the babies were born, Rosemary began to exercise again to lose weight. If she couldn’t, she wanted to at least get back into shape as much as possible. She knew that in a few years when she entered her thirties, her metabolism would slow down, her bones and muscles would increase in density, and she would gain weight anyway. Nonetheless, she was determined to keep fit and strong even if she was never again what most people would consider skinny.
I wasn’t present the day it happened, but I wasn’t out long afterward either. I had only run out for diapers just up the street, so I wasn’t gone long. Before my human self returned, when Rosemary did awaken and sit up in bed, my picture form knew what was wrong before she even uttered her cries of distress.
Her wails set the babies wailing right along with her as she rose from the bed, hands outstretched in front of her, calling for me.
“Katie!” she screamed in panic. “Katie!”
The babies’ cries grew louder. I returned to quite a thunderous symphony of wails to find Rosemary had stumbled over the power cords running to where the computer was and was groping around in frustrated terror.
They weren’t kidding when they said her sight would go fast in the end. Barely eleven months ago, when she first came to live with my human self, she’d had no idea this would happen.
“Hang on, sweetie, I’m coming!” I said, rushing into the building. My eyes watered with tears. It seemed I tried to hide it at first before I realized the waste of time that would be. I grabbed the nearby stick-like cane we’d gotten in preparation for this day.
“Katie!” Rosemary screamed over the babies’ cries.
“Yes, I’m coming. Shhh, it’s ok. The more you go off, the more you set them off too, so let’s just try to stay calm, ok?”
Tears streamed down Rosemary’s face as she knelt on the floor searching with her outstretched arms.
I slumped down onto the floor next to her and gathered her snugly into my arms. She was shaking uncontrollably. “It’s ok,” I said gently, crying along with her. “I’m here now and everything’s going to be ok.”
“I woke up this way just now and… and… oh, Katie, I don’t want to live like this!” Rosemary sobbed.
“Shhh,” I said, rocking her back and forth. “You have to, babe. We need you.”
“I can’t-I can’t cook for you tonight.”
After a moment or two, Rosemary and the babies quieted down. I glanced at their crib periodically, then I pulled Rosemary back and gazed into her now unfocused, vacant eyes. I brushed the tears from her face and then brought my lips to hers and silently began to cry again.
“You’re shaking,” Rosemary said, placing one hand on my upper abdomen and the other on my chest.
“I’ll be ok,” I said softly. “Listen to me now, babe.”
The babies whimpered a bit as I placed the cane in Rosemary’s hand.
“N-no,” Rosemary said, shaking her head in protest.
“You have to, babe. I can’t be here all the time to guide you around. I would if I could, but I can’t, so you’ve got to learn to get around on your own. You don’t have to go outside just yet. Just learn to navigate the inside, that’s all. We’ll push the bed and crib down closer to the bathroom and kitchen area, ok?”
Hesitantly, Rosemary gave a slight nod.
“And remember, we’re moving in two weeks. In two weeks, no more of this giant, hard, cold echo chamber. We’ll have a real house. A real, cozy little home with real carpet, real rooms, real everything.”
“And now that I can’t see, you’ll have to do the dusting and vacuuming on top of your job.”
I chuckled. “Sweetie, that’s the least of my worries. We’ll hire us a housekeeper, ok?”
The babies began crying again.
“Ok,” I said, “let’s get you up and over to them so they can see that their mom’s ok.”
I gently took hold of Rosemary’s arm and guided her to her feet. She rose on shaky legs and took hold of the cane.
“Now, use the light of the doorway to give you a sense of direction. Can you see it?”
Rosemary’s head turned towards the door. “Yes.”
“Good, now you know where the babies are. Go to them.”
Rosemary turned and headed towards the bed. “Am I in the right direction?”
“I can’t tell you that,” I said. “You have to learn to get around without my help.”
Rosemary took small steps, closer and closer towards the bed. When she realized she’d reached it, she felt her way down towards the foot of it and then to the crib.
I walked over to her and said, “Ok, I’m right beside you now. Go ahead and pick someone up.”
Rosemary reached down into the crib. “I-I can’t.”
“Yes, you can.”
“I’m afraid I’ll drop them,” Rosemary said despairingly.
“You won’t. Have confidence in yourself.”
Taking a deep breath and trying to keep her hands steady, Rosemary lifted one of the infants up out of the crib. “Who is it? I can’t tell who it is.”
“That’s Angel, Angel Eyes.”
“I can’t hold them both at once.”
“That’s ok. One at a time will be just fine.”
Rosemary placed Angel back down in the crib and picked up Dylan. Then she put him down with his sister after a moment, and that’s when I encouraged Rosemary to circle around the building in both directions so she could get a sense of how to get around while we were still here.
The thought of Rosemary and my human self leaving filled me with dread. Surely this meant I’d never see them again unless my picture could magically move with them. If seeing us in a better place, though, meant staying put, then stay put I would until and if there ever came a day I was moved for some reason.
After a while I said, “How about a game of pool?”
“You’re insane,” Rosemary told me. “I couldn’t even play it with my eyesight and now you expect me to play without it?”
“Sure, you can do it. It’ll be fun.”
“Yeah, for who?”
I ran and opened the portable pool table and set everything up while Rosemary remained on the chair between the couch and bed.
“Ok, I’ve set it up by the left of the door. Come on over.”
Shakily, Rosemary rose.
“Don’t forget the stick.”
“I suppose this has to become a permanent part of me,” Rosemary muttered.
Once she made her way over to me, I gently guided her to the end of the table and handed her the pool cue. “Ok, break ‘em up, girl. I’ll stand behind you and help guide you.”
“This is crazy,” Rosemary said, though she placed the cue in position.
“I’ll just slide it over just a bit for you,” I said, maneuvering the cue. “Ok, shoot. You’re in line.”
Rosemary shot at the white ball. After a slight clank, she said, “I heard something get hit.”
I laughed. “Yeah, but you just nicked the edge of the triangle.”
Rosemary placed the cue down and said, “I don’t want to do this right now, Katie. I just want – I just – will you hold me?”
“Of course I will, babe. Come on, let’s go lay down on the bed.”
Even though I held her hand along the way, she scuffed her toe and gave a yelp.
The babies started to cry.
“Hey, you’ve got to remember to try to stay calm, sweetie. They’re very sensitive to what’s going on around them.”
Rosemary stilled and began to softly sing a lullaby.
I smiled as I listened to Rosemary’s sweet voice and saw how it settled the babies down in minutes.
We continued on to the bed.
“Now don’t shuffle your feet. Take normal steps just like always and use the cane. Really use it, don’t just carry it.”
I walked ahead of Rosemary and sat on the bed, visually tracking her progress as she made her way towards me. She found the bed just a few feet from where I sat.
“Where are you?” she asked.
“Find me yourself. Listen to my voice.”
Now knowing I was towards her right, she reached out a hand. I planted a kiss on the palm of it as it came close to my face. Then I rose and said, “I’ll go around to my side of the bed.”
Rosemary patted her side as if she needed to be reassured that it really was there.
We slid into bed and held each other for a while, then we made love.
Later on, I heard someone pull up as I worked on the computer while Rosemary and the babies napped.
The visitor was Gwen.
“I ran into Marilyn today and heard the horrible news. I’m so sorry,” she said.
“Yeah, it’s been rough on us. However, in the midst of it all, we’ve been blessed with twins.”
“I heard that, too. I’m glad something good has happened to help make up for the bad. Did Rosemary know she was going blind when she was impregnated?” Gwen asked.
“Fortunately not,” I said, “or else we probably wouldn’t have them.”
Rosemary stirred and sat up. She stretched and yawned, then reached for her cane.
I noticed that she was up and said, “Hey babe, it’s Gwen.”
“I hear,” said Rosemary.
“We’re by the door.”
“I can see your shadows in the light.”
Rosemary strode towards us. Upon reaching us, Gwen took Rosemary in her arms for a hug and kissed the top of her head. “How are you, sweetheart?”
“I’m surviving,” she said, seemingly over her anger. “I’ve managed to learn Braille, how to pick up our kids, and how to get around this big old dump without beating myself up too much.”
I smiled. “And she still exercises and basically does everything she normally does except for seeing images. Still listens to music, still sings pretty, and of course, she can type without looking. Then she has an electronic reader read back to her what she typed.”
“Now see? It’s bad enough, but it could be worse. Think of those who are paralyzed from the neck down and can’t even feed themselves. Now, where are the little ones?”
“Rosemary, would you like to take her to them?”
“Hey, it was only a matter of hours ago that the power went all the way out in these eyes. I don’t think I can…”
“Sure you can,” Gwen said cheerfully. “I’ll help steer us where I think I see a crib.”
Rosemary turned and slowly headed towards the crib. When she veered off course a bit, Gwen guided her back in line with the crib.
“There you go,” she said. “Aw, look at the little angels.”
I beamed. “And fittingly, one of them is named Angel. The other one’s Dylan.”
“They look like you, Kay.”
“Thank goodness for that much,” said Rosemary.
Gwen and I laughed.
Rosemary said goodbye to Gwen just before she left and headed for the bathroom. That much was easy to find in the daytime, for she could simply go to the lighted doorway, then follow the wall down towards the direction it was in.
“Try to look at the bright side of things,” Gwen said in hushed tones that were out of Rosemary’s earshot yet within mine. “She’s not going to be getting into fights anymore.”
“That’s true, but I still wish I could wave a magic wand and restore her sight.”
“I know you do,” Gwen said patting me on the upper arm before she left.
Not much later, I tried to coax Rosemary to eat a little something.
“I’m not hungry,” she said.
“Come on, Rosemary, you have to eat. I know you’re still bummed out and that that can really dampen your appetite, but remember, they get their food from you. So if you don’t get enough nutrition, they don’t either.”
Just before dark, I talked Rosemary into going outdoors. “Come on, Angel Eyes. We can’t stay inside forever.”
After an initial protest, she agreed to let me lead her outside but remained rooted to the ground at first with me tugging on her hands. Eventually, she relaxed enough to allow herself to be led around somewhere out of view, then back again.
After dark, Zola, Marilyn and Rosa showed up.
Zola pulled me aside at one point when I went to check for email. Rosemary was still with the others in another part of the room.
“I want to thank you,” she told me.
“You do? And what would that be for?”
“For coming into Rosemary’s life before she learned she’d be going blind. I don’t think she’d have had the will to live if you hadn’t.”
“Oh, that’s nice of you to say,” I said with a smile.
“But it’s the truth.”
“That’s sweet. Thank you, Zola. I’m determined to give her the best life I possibly can and to help see to it that the worst thing she ever experiences isn’t much more than bad memories.”
That night, after our company left, Rosemary heard me tapping away at the keyboard and sought me out.
I kissed the palm of her outstretched hand once I could reach it.