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Life through one lens

Nicole Asklar

I would say from an outsider’s perspective, I live a pretty normal lifestyle.  I go to work, socialize, squeeze in a quick workout, make dinner and catch up on the latest shows like most.  On the flip side, what most do not see is the ability I’ve created to block out certain moments that affect me negatively each and every day.  The stares, the whispers and the comments.  Although I’ve gotten good at ignoring the obvious, it always pings my heart in the slightest way the moment someone acknowledges that I am different from them.  Years ago, it would put me in a dark hole I thought I would never be able to emerge from.  I can honestly say that now, at thirty-four years old, I am finally at a place of acceptance.  A place I never thought I would get to.

The day that changed the person I would be forever was just like any other day at my family home in Connecticut.  I remember the living room with my Barbie dolls scattered all over the place (my favorite), the TV being exceptionally loud and my older brother Adam sitting on the couch playing around with the BB gun that Santa delivered on the request of my other brother, Eric, Christmas morning.  The next moment changed everything.  Not thinking the gun was loaded, Adam started pointing at different objects around the room simply playing around.  I was unfortunately the last place he pointed the gun where one bullet was lodged.  One hit of the trigger was all it took.  I remember screaming.   I remember pain.  I remember the blood and endless tissues. If by some miracle time wise, my parents arrived home right after the accident.  I could feel my dad scoop me up and put me in the truck.  My mother crying while holding me and saying it was going to be okay.  Everything went black.

After hours of surgery, I woke up in the hospital where I was told my fate (the best they could for a five year old).  I would be forever blind in my left eye.  I would never see again and the eye itself would remain heavily damaged.  The bullet from the BB gun stopped mere centimeters from hitting my brain and killing me completely.  To this day, I cannot imagine what this news felt like to my parents.  The anger, the guilt, the uncertainty and constant worry of what the rest of my life would look like.  A mistake made by my brother, who I know lives with this regret, changed my world forever.  Even to this day I cannot watch A Christmas Story, for obvious reasons.

For over twenty years, I’ve lived with a prosthetic eye shell and finally have an insurance plan that will pay to have it replaced with a much needed new one.  Of course, living with a prosthetic shell came with its fair share of teasing and comments throughout my school years.  The worst years of my life I’d say.  I did everything possible to dress the best, have my hair done, keep up with the latest fashion trends.  Anything to feel somewhat normal was my goal since my late twenties.  After high school, I did a few years at the local community college before deciding to test my limits and move to Florida on my own.  I was lucky enough to find a job and make some great friends along the way who looked past the exterior.  They didn’t judge, snicker or question.  I can say it was the first time in a long time I felt okay in my own skin.  I’ve found that it is true with age comes understanding, acceptance and peace.

My life will continue to be somewhat of a struggle but I know how fortunate I am to still be alive while so many others were not granted that miracle. Today I know my disability does not define me and I have family and friends to remind me of just that.  Life truly does go on, even if through just one lens.

About the Author

Nicole Asklar
Nicole Asklar

My name is Nicole and I live in northern New Jersey. I live with a disability and I hope my story helps inspire others to keep going and share their stories as well.