Last Month and Last Year

A series of butterfly cocoons. Some are still closed, a few are open. A butterfly has just emerged from one of them.

It’s been a quiet month here on the blog, because life outside the blog has been a whirlwind. My parents came into town for two weeks to help me clear some of the last medical and bureaucratic hurdles involved in relocating and getting social services. There’s a lot of bureaucracy involved in going blind—a lot of paperwork and visits to doctors and government buildings, then a lot of waiting, then more visits to doctors and government buildings. My parents graciously ferried me all over the Bay, condensing errands that would have taken me weeks into a few days.

It was the big push at the end of a long year of change. About this time last year my dissertation proposal was accepted by the faculty in my department and I became officially A.B.D. I had already been legally blind for a year before that, but the proposal marked a turning point. It was the last piece of work I was able to complete without radically changing my process to accommodate reduced vision.

And since then? Well, I haven’t made substantial progress on the actual dissertation in almost a year.

It’s not like I’ve been idle. Our family moved across the country and settled in a new town. Kristin started a new job in a new career. Jane turned from a baby into a toddler. I learned Braille and mobility skills, dove deep into accessibility, and developed new workflows for research and writing.

Looking back, it feels like I spent the year in some kind of professional chrysalis, a space that allowed me to process, change, and transform. Now I feel like I can finally return to the work I set out to do in the first place.  It won’t be smooth and easy sailing as a beautiful blind butterfly, but at least I’m ready to start moving forward.

6 thoughts on “Last Month and Last Year

  1. Love the imagery! Sounds like a good time to take a moment and take stock of where you’ve been and where you’re headed!

  2. The dissertation is a huge hurdle even with both eyes open. I was doing a textual analysis of African fan letters to a Christian soap opera put together by the Christian Broadcasting Network in Virginia Beach, Virginia. I dutifully picked up the boxes of over 250 letters mailed from Africa after my proposal defense and started to divide them up into categories for coding the word usage. The letters fell into two categories: “Good job.” and “Keep up the good work”. Whoa, realized there was no significant data there and had to go back and write a new proposal. Later I let the finished defended dissertation sit for 5 months when all I had to change were a few sentences. I was just worn out in fighting the big push to finish. Your work will come together all in God’s timing. It will be a labor of love because everything you do is a labor of love. May God raise you up.

    1. Exactly, Lynn! I can’t focus so much on the unusual difficulties of being a blind scholar that I forget the usual difficulties of being any kind of scholar. Dissertations are hard for everyone! I already know my dissertation will change some because the proposal as written would probably require 1500 pages to do well. Nobody wants that.

  3. You may be blind when it comes to eyesight but you certainly are not blind in spirit! It is a beautiful butterfly that we are experiencing!

  4. Eric, You are being transformed and are a true testimony to us all. You exemplify 2 Cor 4:8-9
    We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed but not in despair; persecuted but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
    The Lord’s love, blessing and strength is being revealed through your struggles and perseverance. Thank you for sharing your life with us. We love you!!

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