The Bus Passenger
The passengers on the bus watched sympathetically as the attractive young woman with the white cane made her way carefully up the steps. She paid the driver and, using her hands to feel the location of the seats, walked down the aisle and found the seat he told her was empty. Then she settled in, placed her briefcase on her lap and rested her cane against her leg.
It had been a year since Sally, thirty-four, became blind. Due to a medical misdiagnosis, she had lost her eyesight and was suddenly thrown into a world of darkness, anger, frustration and self-pity. Once a fiercely independent woman, she now felt condemned by this terrible twist of fate to become powerless, helpless and a burden to everyone around her. "How could this have happened to me?" She plead with her heart filled with anger.
But no matter how much she cried, ranted or prayed, she knew the painful truth... she would never get her eyesight back. A huge cloud of depression hung over her once optimistic spirit. Just getting through each day was an overwhelming struggle combined with frustration and exhaustion. All she had to cling to was her husband Mark.
Mark was an Air Force officer and he loved Sally with all his heart. When she first lost her sight, he watched her sink into despair and was determined to help his wife gain the strength and confidence she needed to become independent again. Mark's military background had trained him well to deal with sensitive situations and yet, he knew this was the most difficult battle he would ever face.
Finally, after a few months passed, Sally felt ready to return to her job but how would she get there? She used to take the bus but was now too frightened to go around the city by herself. Mark volunteered to drive her to work each day, even though they worked at opposite ends of the city.
At first, this comforted Sally and fulfilled Mark's need to protect his sightless wife, who was so insecure about performing the slightest task. Soon, however, Mark realized that this arrangement wasn't working --- it was hectic and costly. Mark sadly admitted to himself that Sally will have to start taking the bus again if she wanted to continue working. But just the thought of mentioning it to her made him cringe. She was still so fragile, so angry. How would she react?
Just as Mark predicted, after he suggested that she try to take the bus alone, Sally was horrified at the idea of taking the bus again.
"I'M BLIND!" she bitterly screamed at him. "WHAT KIND OF SUPPORT IS THAT? HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO KNOW WHERE I'M GOING? I FEEL LIKE YOU'RE ABANDONING ME! SOME HUSBAND YOU ARE!"
Mark's heart broke to hear his wife speak that way towards him but he knew what had to be done. He promised Sally that each morning and evening, he would ride the bus with her, for as long as it took, until she got the hang of it. And that's exactly what happened.
For two solid weeks, Mark, military uniform and all, accompanied Sally to and from work each day. He taught her how to rely on her other senses, specifically her hearing, to determine where she was and how to adapt to her new environment. He helped her become friends with the bus drivers who could watch out for her and save her a seat not too far from the front. He made her laugh, even on those not-so-good days when she would trip exiting the bus or drop her briefcase.
Each morning, they made the journey together and Mark would take a cab back to his office. But this routine was even more expensive and exhausting than the previous one. Mark knew it was only a matter of time before Sally would either be able to ride the bus on her own or would have to quit her job. He believed in her, in the Sally he knew before she'd lost her sight, who wan't afraid of any challenge and who would never, ever quit.
Finally, Sally decided that she was ready to try the trip on her own. Monday morning, before she left, she threw her arms around Mark, her temporary bus riding companion, her husband and her best friend. Her eyes filled with tears of gratitude for his loyalty, his patience and his love. She said good-bye and, for the first time, they went their seperate ways.
Monday, Tuesday, Wedsnesday, Thursday. Each day on her own went perfect and Sally was getting her confidence back. She was beginning to feel better about herself. She was doing it! She was going to work all by herself! She was feeling a sense of independence again.
On Friday morning, Sally took the bus as usual. As she was slowly and carefully tapping her cane to lead her to the next step off the bus, the driver, who was temporarily replacing the regular driver that was on vacation, said to her, "Boy, I sure envy you."
Sally didn't know if he was speaking to her or to someone else. After all, who on earth would ever envy a blind woman who had struggled for the past year just to find the courage to live?
Curious, she asked the driver, "Are you talking to me?"
"Why do you say you envy me?" she questioned.
"It must feel so good to be taken care of and protected like you are." the driver answered.
Sally was puzzled. She had no idea what the driver was talking about and asked again, "What do you mean?"
The driver replied, "You know. Every morning for the past week, a fine looking gentleman in a military uniform has been standing across the street watching you when you get off the bus. He makes sure you cross the street safely and he watches you until you enter your office building. Then he blows you a kiss, gives you a little salute and walks away. You are one lucky lady."
Tears of happiness rolled down Sally's cheeks. Although she couldn't physically see him, she had always felt Mark's presence. She was lucky, so lucky, for he had given her a gift more powerful than sight, a gift she didn't need to see to believe --- the gift of love that can bring light where there had been darkness.
1 John 3:18 My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. (NKJV)