While we try to teach our children all about life,
Our children teach us what life is all about.
~Angela Schwindt

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Caitlyn's Eyes

Kaylee read this to us the other night, and I thought that the girl was being way kind in thinking of what she could give to her friend.

Caitlyn's Eyes

By James Engberson
In that day … the eyes of the blind shall see (2 Ne. 27:29).
James Engberson, "Caitlyn's Eyes," Friend, Dec. 2000, 20

"It isn't fair," I moaned. "Christmas is a week away, and I don't have anything for Caitlyn."
"I thought you were giving her the wind chimes you made at school," Mom said.
"I was going to give her those because I couldn't think of anything else." I sighed. "I'm not supposed to know, but I saw what she's going to give me—a silver necklace with a tiny pearl in it. It's beautiful! And what do I give her? Some wind chimes I made at school." I shook my head. "Maybe it would be different if Caitlyn didn't already have everything."
"Caitlyn has everything?" Mom looked up from the Primary lesson she was preparing.
"Well, nearly everything," I muttered. "Her parents get her anything she asks for." I shrugged. "She doesn't ever ask for much. She deserves more than wind chimes from me."
Last summer I had met Caitlyn at the park. She was sitting on one of the benches all by herself. At first, I didn't pay any attention to her, and she seemed to ignore me, too. Even when I walked right in front of her, she didn't look my way or say anything. She just was staring and smiling. Caitlyn almost always smiles.
My little sister, Tricia, and I were tossing a Frisbee back and forth, laughing and joking. I accidentally tossed the Frisbee over Tricia's head, and it landed in front of Caitlyn's bench.
"Do you mind tossing that to me?" Tricia called to her.
Caitlyn stood up cautiously. "Tell me where it is," she said, smiling.
"Right in front of you," Tricia giggled.
"How many steps in front of me?" Caitlyn continued to stare straight ahead.
"Look down," Tricia coached. "Look down and you'll see it."
"But I can't see," Caitlyn came back. She said it as though it were the most ordinary thing in the whole world.
That day in the park, we told each other our names. A few days later, I saw Caitlyn there again. As soon as I said hello, she gave me a huge smile and a cheery, "Hi, Melissa. I hoped we'd meet again."
"How did you know it was me?"
"I hardly ever forget a voice, especially a friendly one. I told Mrs. Wallace—she looks after me during the day—that I wanted to come back here in case you came again." She reached out. "May I touch your face?" She explained, "I have to 'see' with my fingers."
We sat and talked most of the afternoon. I learned that her father was a heart surgeon and her mother was an attorney. Caitlyn was their only child. She lived in a huge house east of the park. Mrs. Wallace was her special helper and friend. I might have been just a little jealous if it wasn't for Caitlyn's blindness.
"Have you always been …" I couldn't bring myself to say it.
Caitlyn was quiet for a moment; then she answered gently, "Not always. I could see until I was four. Then I was in an accident. I still remember little pictures of the world before everything was dark." She hesitated. "But most things I don't remember. Or I never saw them in the first place."
Caitlyn and I were so different. I came from a pretty ordinary family. We certainly weren't rich. I lived in a small house with my two brothers and three sisters. I loved to play ball and run and jump. School wasn't exactly hard for me—it just didn't interest me much.
Caitlyn loved school. She went to a special school hundreds of miles away, where she learned to read books with pages covered with tiny bumps. She ran her fingers over those tiny bumps and read stories. She could play the piano, and she had a special computer that helped her write and explore the world.
Even though we were different, we became wonderful friends.
Because her school was far away, she was home only part of the time, but during those times we spent hours together, either at her house or at mine. Often when she was at school, she called and we talked for hours. As our friendship grew, I sometimes forgot that she was blind.
Caitlyn will get some really neat gifts this Christmas," I told Mom. "She doesn't know it, of course, but her parents are giving her a new music system for her room and a new bed that looks like something out of a fairy tale. Why would she ever want my silly wind chimes?"
"She loves things she can hear. You said she loves wind chimes."
I shook my head. "I like bubbles, but I don't think I'd like bubbles for Christmas." I sighed. "That's the problem with having a friend who has everything."
I knew Mom was talking about Caitlyn's eyes. "Everything I could give her."
I leaned back in the sofa and stared up at the ceiling, trying to imagine what Caitlyn's world was like. I opened my eyes and looked over at Mom. "I know what I'd like to give her. My eyes. Just for a day. Just so she could see the world again. She'd have the memories of everything she had seen that day. I'd be OK, missing my eyes for one day, and that one day of sight would mean so much to her."
Mom smiled at me. "It would be a wonderful gift. I wish we could both give her that. But we can't. Caitlyn will know that you are giving her the chimes from your heart. That's what will mean the most to her. And every time she hears them, she'll think of you, even when she's away at school."
Mom helped me wrap the chimes. Then I went to my room, lay on my bed, and closed my eyes, imagining that I had magically lent my eyes to Caitlyn. I wished that Jesus Christ was here and that He healed Caitlyn's eyes. I knew that He will come again one day, and He will do His miracles. One day Caitlyn will see again. I knew it. But I wanted her to see now!
While I was lying there, locked for a moment in Caitlyn's dark world, it came to me what I could give her that would be special enough. I leaped from my bed and went charging down the hall.
Mom listened as I excitedly explained what I wanted to do. I needed her help. Smiling, she agreed, and for the next few days, we worked together—planning, preparing, practicing, pretending. Mom and I drove down the street, walked down the sidewalks, peered into store windows, and saw hundreds of other things all around us. I looked through my eyes as though they were Caitlyn's. I saw things that I had never noticed before.
Two days before Christmas, Mom drove me to Caitlyn's house. She was smiling wildly with excitement. "Ever since you called," her mother said, "she's been waiting for this evening. I don't know what you have planned, but—"
"It will be wonderful, whatever it is," Caitlyn interrupted, because Melissa is giving it to me."
I led Caitlyn to the car, and we sat in the back. As soon as I closed the door, I announced, "I wanted to give you something wonderful for Christmas, something that came from me." I reached out and touched her hand. "I thought if I could, I'd let you borrow my eyes for a day. And I've discovered a way to do it! Tonight I'm going to use my eyes to show you Christmas."
Caitlyn nodded but looked confused.
"We're driving down your street," I started, my voice shaking with excitement. Mom drove very slowly so I could describe everything. "Right here at the corner is a gorgeous manger scene. Mary is by the manger, holding the Baby Jesus. Lights are shining from overhead. There are little gray donkeys walking across the snow and shepherds and lambs and …"
Mom and I took Caitlyn down several streets and described the decorated homes. We drove downtown to the Village of Lights. We walked up and down Main Street, peering in the big windows of the department stores and in the little panes of the small shops. When we stopped at a cute cafe to sip hot chocolate and munch cinnamon rolls, I described the tiny decorative elves perched on the counter, the holly hanging on beams overhead, and the mistletoe dangling from the ceiling above each booth.
Outside, we met Santa Claus, and we saw carolers. I didn't want to miss anything, because I knew that if I didn't see everything, neither would Caitlyn.
It was late when we returned to Caitlyn's house. As she burst through her front door, she called out to her mother, "It was awesome! It was better than awesome! We went everywhere, and Melissa described everything. It was as though I could see again."
Caitlyn bubbled with excitement, and I was so happy that I thought I'd burst. I reached into my coat pocket and pulled out the package containing my simple wind chimes. I pressed the small present into her hands. "This is also for you. Whenever you hear the chimes, you can remember tonight and everything we saw together."
Caitlyn threw her arms around my neck and squeezed until I didn't think I could breathe. "It was the best gift ever!" she whispered in my ear.
Gospel topics: Christmas, friendship
[illustrations] Illustrated by Mark Robison

© 2006 Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

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