Theo had a choice between a drug that would save his sight and a drug that would keep him alive, so he chose not to go blind. He stopped the pills and started the injections – these required the implantation of an unpleasant and painful catheter just above his heart – and within a few days the clouds in his eyes started to clear up; he could see again. He remembered going into New York City to a show with his mother, when he was twelve and didn’t want to admit he needed glasses. “Can you read that?” she’d shouted, pointing to a Broadway marquee, and when he’d squinted, making out only one or two letters, she’d taken off her own glasses – harlequins with tiny rhinestones in the corners – and shoved them onto his face. The world came into focus, and he gasped, astonished at the precision around the edges of things, the legibility, the hard, sharp, colourful landscape. Sylvia had to squint through Fiddler on the Roof that day, but for Theo, his faced masked by his mother’s huge glasses, everything was as bright and vivid as a comic book. Even though people stared at him, and muttered things, Sylvia didn’t care; he could see.
Because he was dying again, Theo moved back to his mother’s house in New Jersey. The DHPG injections she took in stride – she’d seen her own mother through her dying, after all. Four times a day, with the equanimity of a nurse, she cleaned out the plastic tube implanted