The beauty was breathtaking. Our busload of Association of Late-Deafened Adults arrived at the Garden of the Gods and we scrambled down the stairs to grab our 45 minutes of nature. I walked with Tina Childress, a friend of mine from Illinois. Tina and I served together on the board of lllinois Hands & Voices and we shared many of the same friends.
Tina grew up with normal hearing and worked as an audiologist. In a strange twist of fate, she began to lose her hearing a few years into her career. A co-worker tested her hearing and gave her the news: she was going deaf. Tina obtained two cochlear implants and continued to work as an audiologist with deaf and hard of hearing children. The cochlear implants enabled her to use the phone again.
"I'm taking my implants off," Tina announced as we started down the first path. "I just want to soak in the beauty and not have any sounds distracting me."
"That's a great idea," I said. "I'll join you in that!" I turned off my hearing aids.
The silence enveloped me.
We walked through the Garden of Gods and marveled at the reddish-orange rocks jutting out from the earth. We watched as two rock climbers slowly made their way to the top of a rock formation. There was only room for one of them at a time as they ascended and we watched as they moved in tandem.
Occasionally we signed to each other as we discovered beautiful views and snapped picture after picture. The amazement never ceased as each round of the bend opened up panoramic landscapes.
"We've got ten minutes left," Tina signed. It was time to head back to the bus. We quickly figured out which path would lead us back and began to pick up the pace.
It was then that I noticed I was hearing something.
"It's weird," I said. "I hear the wind."
I knew it wasn't possible as I am stone deaf without my hearing aids on. I knew in my mind, I was hearing the phantom sound of the wind as I felt it across my face. It was peaceful and comforting.
Back in the bus, Tina put her implants back on and I flipped the switch on my hearing aids. Instantly, we were bombarded with sounds around us.
The 45 minutes of complete silence matched the beauty of our surroundings. What a blessing.