Every now and then, you cross paths with people who will leave a lasting impact on your life. Alejandra is one those. Here is her story.
End of June I was in Guadalajara to discuss a potential partnership opportunity with some local companies. As I often do, I use my work trips to also meet friends who live all over the place. It was my second time in Guadalajara and while I only had 36 hours, I made it a priority to meet up with some of my local friends. One of them was Ale, a girl that I had met back in 2008 during my semester abroad in Buenos Aires.
Ale is actually from Guadalajara and part of a bigger group of Mexicans with whom I used to hang out with in Argentina (surprisingly, I only made Mexican friends during my term abroad). While we managed to see each other only once – 2009 in Munich – we always remained in touch over Facebook and Instagram.
Without knowing her full story, I always knew that there was something with her right eye. I didn’t know any details, but I remembered how there was always a green reflection in her eye on those pictures that existed of us back in 2008. I always thought she was slightly cross-eyed, but that was an assumption I made without knowing any specifics.
As we were catching up over a few beers about the past 5 years, she casually mentioned twice that she underwent some treatments for her eye. As she was mentioning this, it was visible to me that part of her right eye had an uneven, slightly grainy, surface. Not knowing what astonishing story I was tapping into, I asked her about the story of her eye.
You know how doctors talk about that <1% risk of complications when undergoing eye laser surgery to recover your sight? Well, she was that <1%. Back in 2007 she underwent such eye laster treatment but the surgery led to complications. What started as a complication, turned out to be an unfathomable ordeal of 36 eye surgeries to date.
Since her first surgery, she had lost her sight on her right eye twice but was able to regain it as a result of the many surgeries. Upon losing her eye sight a third time, there was no possibility to regain her sight. To make things worse, her non-functioning eye became so low in pressure that some of her last and biggest surgeries were not even aiming at recovering her sight, but at maintaining her eye in tact. Fortunately, the doctors succeeded in doing so because otherwise she would be wearing a glass eye today. Imagine there were times she had to sit straight for weeks with closed eyes to avoid excess pressure. Weeks. All you want to do in that moment is to cry … but even that you can’t do. What a terrible ordeal.
As someone who generally can’t see blood, wounds or listen to anatomy-related things, I was surprised with what fascination and curiosity I was listening to her story. What made her story so interesting was not the pain and suffering she had to go through, but the attitude and perspective she had on it.
First off, I was amazed by how modest she was about her past. I was thinking of all the times we spent time together in Argentina back in 2008 or seeing each other again in 2009. Not a single time did she make her story a topic in our conversations. Knowing how often people have the necessity to share their grief and suffering with others, you could clearly see with what strength she had been handling her situation over the past years.
As I was asking her more questions about her past, Ale was always sharing her stories with a strong sense of acceptance and calmness. If she was mad about the doctor I asked her. Ale said that she has accepted her fate and learned to live with this circumstance of her life. Throughout the entire conversation, there was not a single time that she would show resentment towards what had happened. Quite the opposite, she was telling the story with such sense of positivity and embracement that I couldn’t help myself but to compliment her for the admirable strength and resilience she had shown throughout all those difficult years.
In the end of our evening while we were bidding farewell I told her that she might have lost her sight, but that she had gained an amazing perspective on what happened in her life. I further promised her to write about her story and thus inspire others. She is a marvelous example of a person who underwent some serious hardship but did not let it take her down. She didn’t develop resentment, but acceptance. She didn’t hate her circumstances, but understood that she was more than the sum of those. She embraced her fate, learned to live with it and made the best out of the means she had. I thought I was just going to have a beer with a friend. Little did I know I would walk away that inspired.