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When People Ask if I Would Give My Daughter Sight

When I think about all the things Madilyn is missing because she is blind, I often consider the bad sights. An animal killed on the side of the road. The worried expression on my face when the doctor said she needed a major skull surgery. The numerous harsh images flashing across the television screen. Perhaps it’s some sort of blessing to be sheltered from such horrific sights, especially as a child.

On the other hand, maybe she’s being cheated without all the visual information sighted people take in every waking minute — information which shapes our mind, memories, reflections on the past and plans for the future.

young girl standing in front of a pond

Either way, visual images are not in Madilyn’s mind. Instead, her memories seem to be full of mostly sound, speech and even musical notes. She can tell you the title, season and episode number of every “Sesame Street” on Netflix. She will remember the sound of your voice years from the day she met you. She can tell you the name of a song within seconds of hearing it, and what note the clank of the glass made as we said, “Cheers!” last New Year’s Eve.

Some people have asked me if I could give Madilyn sight today, would I do it? Many probably think it’s an easy answer. But as her mother, it would be extremely hard for me to say I want to change her. She was given to me without sight and without eyes. Everything she is today— funny, smart, sweet and loving — is because of everything she experienced from the day she was born, and even before.

To experience this world without sight is something most of us could never imagine. And because I didn’t make the decision, most of the time I don’t feel like it should be my choice, even if it was possible. I think that’s something she would need to decide for herself when she’s older. People may not understand, but I believe Madilyn might not want to be different than she is today, with the life she knows. Maybe she is perfectly happy without sight. She most certainly acts that way every day.

If I could take away the frustrations and pain she has endured through surgeries and doctors poking, I would do it in a New York second. But maybe even those experiences, although not pleasant, have helped shape her as well — it’s hard to say for sure. However, I do know that the person I am today, and the beautiful life I live, is because of her. And I thank God every single day. woman and her daughter in lifejackets on the lake

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