Author Frank Bruni wasn’t overly concerned when he woke one morning feeling sluggish, the vision in his right eye blurry. Later in the day characters on his computer jiggled and that night at dinner sparkly interior lights appeared to wobble. Thinking it was nothing serious, Bruni didn’t even mention the issue to his roommate, a doctor he’d enjoyed a longtime romantic relationship with, the two sharing a Manhattan apartment.
Bruni’s vision, however, soon became intensely worrisome and difficult to diagnose, requiring multiple vision tests and trips to doctors’ offices. A neuro-ophthalmologist finally hit on the correct diagnosis, and Bruni agreed to a series of painful injections in the affected eye.
At age 52, with no prior serious health issues, Bruni had suffered a stroke in the night, loss of oxygen causing damage to his optic nerve. In his inspirational book “The Beauty of Dusk: On Vision Lost and Found,” Bruni relates how his life changed after his stroke, how his awareness and empathy for others and appreciation of the natural world increased in ways he could never have imagined.
Bruni became more cognizant of people who had suffered physically and emotionally, as he processed through his grief, not only of his vision loss, but of the abrupt end to his romantic relationship. Gradually Bruni moved toward acceptance, realizing everyone has something to cope with, that nothing is certain, and that life is messy.
Among the lovely chapters in this must-read is one on aging and another focusing on the blessings and love found in a new dog, a buddy to walk with in Central Park, the scenery Bruni had sped by before now more glorious because the author is more present.
As I read “The Beauty of Dusk” I had numerous ah-ha moments, my highlighter busy underlining passage after passage. This moving account deserves a place on a bookshelf where it can be reread when life doles out bumps in the road—it also would make a lasting and memorable gift.