Exposure № 016: Eugene and David

had met Eugene in the street the Summer before. Her style standing out. Looking like every woman I remember as a child in the 1970’s.

We would stop and talk whenever our paths crossed in town until late last summer Eugene disapeared.

For months I would ask the few people I thought might know if all was well. No one knew a thing. No news. No news. Then one afternoon during a casual chat I asked again if anyone had sight or sound of Eugene and was told her son had been involved in a accident and was blinded as a result of the trauma.

I was more than shocked. The little I had learned of Eugene had never included the topic of children and to learn that she was indeed a Mother and now involved in this awful tragedy, at 86 dismayed me terribly.

Weeks later I saw her coming towards me in town, behind her, holding the belt of her winter coat was a tall man, both braced against the wind. I realised it was Eugene and her son. We spoke and as I learned more I only then realised that her son, David was a figure I had seen around town since I was 12 or 13 and never realised was Eugene’s son and suddenly these two were then thrown together in my mind, two seemingly separate figures now placed together.

David had been very active. Walking, cycling. My memories of him were his always cycling past me as I would walk into town. Last summer the bag he was wearing over his shoulder had come loose, entangled in the front wheel of his bicycle and he had been thrown over the handlebars, face first to the road breaking his upper jaw and neck in two places.

“I was choking on the blood” he told me. “In the ambulance they got a bucket and it poured out of my mouth… so much blood!… I could still see then… right up until I fell into a coma”.

David was taken to hospital, bones mended, wounds healed but the obstruction of a feeding and air tube in his mouth prevented his being able to alert to nurses or Doctors that his sight had vanished for almost a week after awaking from the coma he had slipped into.

Now David relies on Eugene for everything, she has become his eyes.

“One of the strangest things,” he told me, “Is waking up from a dream. In dreams I can still see. I can see everything. I wake… and feel I can still see for a time then the black seeps in and I realise I am awake and in darkness again, where the reality used to be filled with sight, now my dreams are. Where sleep was without light now thats my waking life. Everything is upside down. Now being awake is like the dream. My awake nightmare”

Living in the dark, a life in the dark. Its hard to even know the time of day or night. We rely on sight for so many things, the morning sun, the twilight, the black of night. Waking at 2 A.M. and not knowing if it’s light or dark. 10 A.M.? 2 P.M.? I bought David a talking watch so at least he can hear the news of the time when he wakes from the dreams where he can still see.

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