During the weeks Johnny lay sick and dying at home, his eyes grew tired and then cloudy. Within a week they were closed most of the time, and when he opened them, it was hard to tell if he could really see what he was looking at. Then they remained closed most of the time, and then all of the time. They were bruised, crushed and sunken. The light had gone out.
As Johnny lay dying, his eyes looked exactly like the eyes of the baby chicks he had loved to raise. He would gather fertilized eggs from the most amazing places and put them carefully in his incubators. He monitored the temperature and humidity to keep them viable. As the time came closer, he would go out to the hatching shed at night and candle the eggs in the dark to see which were viable and which were not. Those that weren't, he regretted but disposed of. He knew there would be those that would hatch.
There would be the first pinpricks on the shells as they began to peck. Sometimes, if Johnny were lucky, he would even be there to hear the sound of the tiny beak pipping against the shell. In his excitement, he would help hatch the chicks out of their shells. He was careful not to break the shells, which would have killed the chicks. Instead, he only helped remove broken shell as the chicks pecked through. When they emerged, small, shriveled and quivering, he would cradle them in the palm of his hand and warm them and coo to them until they stopped shaking. Then he would put them under the heating lamp to let them start drying out and wait with great anticipation to see which egg might be next.
Bruised, crushed and sunken at first, the chicks' eyes would grow stronger each day as they dried out, stood up, began to eat, drink and move. Their dark eyes, now fully opened, would grow clear and luminous. They had come fully into this world.
As Eric looked at Johnny's eyes in those last days, he was struck how much like those chicks Johnny himself now looked. Eric thought, maybe it meant that Johnny was returning back from this world to emerge somewhere else, that God would cradle him in his hand to warm him and love him, that God would protect him, just as Johnny had loved and cared for his chicks.
Eric loved Johnny's eyes.