Monday, April 30, 2007

Firecrackers in the Sky

One night last week, my sister came to pick up her children, Jasmine and Joseph, to take them back home. As usual, I walked them out to the car so that I could soak up every second I have left with them until they return back to our house, which will actually be in a day or two. (Jasmine and Joseph basically live with us.)

As we were walking on the sidewalk that leads to the driveway, Jasmine, who is three-years-old, looked up at the nighttime sky and said, "Ann, there's firecrackers in the sky!"

At first I didn't know what she was talking about. "Firecrackers in the sky?"

Her voice rang out again as she pointed out the firecrackers that were stuck in the sky.

I finally figured out what she was talking about. The firecrackers were stars. I was so excited that my baby had noticed the beautiful ornaments that God decorated the night sky with. When I was a child, I also thought that the night sky was beautiful and enchanting.

I smiled, lifted Jasmine up in my arms, and explained that those are stars in the sky, not firecrackers.

"Stars?", she asked.

"Yes, my honey. Stars..."

At that very moment, I wished that I could also look up at the sky and enjoy the twinkling stars that looked down on us. But most of all, I wished that I could see the smile on my rabbit's face. Jazz was so happy looking up at the stars. I just wanted to enjoy the sight of her looking up in the sky.

I quickly shifted my attention from my disappointment that I couldn't see, and placed my attention back on my honey. Her excitement and happiness was enough for the both of us. I just borrowed some of her joy and soaked myself in it.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

United 93

Last Sunday night, I was feeling a little bored, so I asked my sister to tell me what was on Time Warner Cable's On Demand. Aftrer reading a laundry list of movies under HBO On Demand, I told her to go ahead and start the movie, United 93.

Now, this is the thing... I made a decision to never watch United 93, The World Trade Center, or any other movie about September 11th. The pain and horror of that day was so dense and intense that I really hate to revisit it. But I went against my better judgement, and sat down on the couch and prepared myself for United 93, the movie.

Well, I wasn't prepared enough. Even though I couldn't see the movie,the images in my mind that were created as I was listening to the movie was horrifying. I found myself getting angry, sad, and confused, all emotions that I had the weeks following the morning of September 11, 2001.

Halfway into the movie, I started to turn the television off and go upstairs. But I was in too deep. I decided to stay the course. Because no matter how uncomfortable I was watching the movie, my discomfort cannot match the pain and utter horror the people that were on those planes felt. What I was going through was nothing. When the movie was over, I could go upstairs and sink into my pillow-top mattress. But the people that were on those four planes, along with the people that were in those buildings in New York and D.C., were the real victims. Those people are gone and gone forever.

As the movie ended, tears were running down my face. I pressed my face into the seat of the couch that I was lying on and let the sofa inhale my tears and sorrow.

After the movie ended, I got up off the sofa, wiped my eyes, ran upstairs, took a HOT bath, and jumped in my bed. I thought about all those people that perished that day. I wished that they could be doing the same thing I was doing that very moment.

God bless the victims of September 11th. God bless the victims' families and friends. God bless America.

It Probably Will Never Happen

I got up off of my mother's bed to go and get me a glass of water. After getting the water, a thought that visits me so often, tapped me on the shoulder. "Ooh, I wish I could see."

It's been 22 years since I started losing my eye sight. I lost all of my sight 17 years ago. But strangely enough, I'm still not use to it.

Yeah, I deal with it. And I've learned to make the best out of it. Well, let me restate that. I'm learning how to make the best out of it. But with that being said, I am not to that place that being blind is okay.

In fact, I'm just going to have to say I hate it. I don't hate me. I just hate being blind. I can see how some might think of that as self hatred. I can even see how some might think that until I learn to embrace my blindness, I regect a part of myself. Maybe... I dont know.

Blindness doesn't prevent me from doing things that I want to do. But it certainly makes me have to work harder to do the things that I want to do. Sometimes, I don't want to work that hard. Sometimes, I just want to do without having to think about it. Is that lazy? I don't think so.

Well, even though this entry may be a little here and there, I still decided to post it. My blindness is real. And my feelings about it are real. One day, I feel like I'm the baddest, most tenacious sister on the block. And there other days that I wish I could be sleeping on a fluffy cloud in heaven. I guess that is just life.

One thing that I have learned is that having a bad day is alright as long as those days don't turn into the majority. Likewise, I've learned that as long as you don't allow your bad days to influence you to make bad decisions, you're cool.


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Another Friend Leaves this Earth

Last night, I was informed that my sister's best friend had made that leap from time to eternity. Although I'm comforted by the fact that I believe that she will live forever in heaven, I'm still sad that she has left us.

She was so young. Only 26-years-old... Her death almost seems senseless. A young wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend...

I pray that God's peace and love be with her husband, children, parents, and everyone that loved her.

News of this young woman's death reminded me of how thankful I should be. So often, we take life and the gift of life for granted. I pray that I can continue to learn how to be thankful for the time that God has so kindly and graciously shared with me.

Again, I pray for this young woman's family. In the next hours, weeks, months, and years, they will need the Lord to be with them. I hope they tap into his love, power, comfort, and strength.

I also pray for my sister, I know that this loss is going to be tough for her.

With love,


Thursday, April 12, 2007

Books Help Me See

One of my earliest memories is when my mother brought my new baby sister, Paula, home from the hospital. I was four-years-old. Soon to be five, but still four…

Up until that point, nothing really significant happened to me. Thankfully, I’m not one of those kids that are shackled by a horrific memory of something that happened to them in the first few years of their life. Nor am I one of those kids that have a ton of fond memories of being four. For whatever reason, the only thing I remember about being four is getting a new sister, watching cartoons, and being in Pre-K.

The memory of my father getting out of the car with Paula is not filled with vivid colors. The filed away images remind me of a faded, worn picture. But the images are indeed there. Maybe not crystal clear, but strikingly significant.

Paula was absolutely beautiful! Her eyes had so much personality. I was immediately interested in being a great big sister. I wanted from the very start to be a positive influence on this gift from heaven. Even though my understanding was limited, I realized that a baby was precious and deserved the utmost protection and love.

The only other thing I can remember being interested in at that age was watching cartoons, playing with any toy I could get my hands on, and reading books. My mother, who was the most committed elementary school teacher that I have ever come in contact with, taught me how to read. She also taught me that reading could be fun, adventurous, and exciting. I believed her.

From the time I was four-years-old, my mother started stockpiling books in my room. I would read my books over and over, never getting bored with the characters, the illustrations, or the stories. I would sometimes get lost in the settings of the books. The words would jump off the page and hold me hostage until I inhaled every page.

Reading still has the same effect on me. When I start reading a book, I cannot put it down. That’s figuratively speaking… Although I can’t read with my eyes, I can still read with my ears. Audio books have become my friend. When I start listening to a book, I vanish from where I am and reappear in the pages of whatever I am reading.

Now that I am totally blind, I enjoy reading more than I ever have. Reading is like watching a great movie. Watching movies are not always as fun. So many visual components of a movie. But a book offers me descriptions of the characters, the setting, and the movements of the actors of the book.

Reading a book gives me the chance to see again. Isn’t that groovy! Thank God for books!

I'm Breaking My Silence

Well, it's my blog, and I can blog if I want to.

That's what I love about having my own blog; I set the rules. It's a beautiful thing.

A couple of days ago, I publicly announced, via my blog, that I was going to be laying low for a while. Well, I guess my addiction to reading and writing is greater than I thought. I just couldn't stay away. Yes, I've cut back. But I never really left.

The truth is that I've been neglecting some of my school assignments. Well, I'm back on track now. So, I can hang around on the internet again. But I still will watch how much and how long.

I was forced to updrade to the new Blogger. I was kind of hesitant to upgrade when they first offered the new features. I really didn't know how it would work with the speech on my computer. But today, I tried to log on to my blog, I was stopped dead in my tracks. Google forced me to upgrade.

So far, so good. I'm pleased at this point.

To tell you the truth, I'm quite pleased with Google/Blogger for this nifty program. So often, computer programs are inaccessible to blind computer users. But Google is the best! They are very accessible. And when they have some problems here and there, they're always glad to try to fix you up.

Well, I'm back blogging, and now I have new features.;

Monday, April 09, 2007

Taking a Break from Blogging

I think I'm going to take a break from blogging for a while. I'm not sure why. I just think that I need a break. It's not really because of my blog. It's mostly because of blogs that I visit. I've started to get too drawn in on certain issues. I need to be focussing my energy on other things.

Plus, I have some other things that's on my mind. These things are causing me to lag behind on projects that I need to be working on. I have to clear my mind and take a breather.

Before I sign off for a few weeks, I need to declare something.

I love Jasmine, Joseph, and Gabrielle. They are my honeys! They bring me so much joy, love, and compassion. I hope and pray that they continue to be my darlings, even as they grow up. What a blessed auntie I am.

And they love me for me. I'm their auntie, and in their eyes, I can do anything. Yes, they know I'm blind. But my blindness means no more than what it is. The fact is that their auntie can't see. But they don't hold that against me when they are deciding if they are going to trust me to love them, take care of them, prepare their meals, play with them, wash and iron their clothes, carry them, bathe them, or anything else. I thank them for trusting me inspite of what others think is such a major liability.

I think it's official... I have to be the proudest aunt in the universe.

Until I get back to this place again, I pray that you get to know God and/or get closer to God.

Angela L. Braden

Friday, April 06, 2007

My Super Power

I can’t number the times that someone asked me, suggested, or even outright insisted that a blind person’s hearing is better than a sighted person’s ability to hear. Well, maybe for some blind people. But for me, I don’t think I’m able to hear any better than I did before I lost my sight. I’ve just learned to use my hearing more effectively.

When you are blind, you must, make good use of the other senses you are left with. Well, if you want to be successful as a blind person you must make good use of those other senses.

Likewise, you must tap into the greatest power that a human has--the mind. Do I have super powers? You darn right I do. It’s my mind. And the other 4 senses I’m left with undergird the power of my mind.

Getting back to hearing… The other day, my love, my doll, my niece, Jasmine, was sitting upstairs with me in the gameroom watching television. She was watching the Cartoon Network. I was busy on the computer, doing whatever it is I find myself doing on the computer. And what did I hear? The sound of a cartoon episode that I will never forget. There were no words, just the sound of music coming from the television speakers.

I asked Jasmine was she watching Tom and Jerry. She said, “Yeah.” I knew it… Then my next question was, “Are those the ants marching at the picnic?” “yes.”, she replied. I was right again.

It was amazing to me that the sound of that particular Tom and Jerry episode has stuck with me all these years. How many years? More than 20… The mind is something else. I can see those ants in my head as if I had just seen that particular episode just yesterday.

I’m so thankful to God that I got a chance to see when I was a little girl. The visual images of so many experiences are burned into the walls of my memory. I’m so glad that I remember the color red, the beauty of the ocean waters, the magic of electricity falling from the sky to the earth, the image of a tiny ant, carrying a bread crumb, 5 times its size, the brightness of the sun, a sparkling diamond, a bald eagle soaring in the sky, The smiling faces of the people who stood on the ground as I was flying through the sky on a wild roller coaster, flames reaching for the sky as it consumed a burning house, perfect cursive writing, beautiful, exotic animals at the Houston Zoo, and the darkness of the night sky. And that’s only mentioning a few of my visual memories…

Although I wish that I will be able to see again in my lifetime, I’m thankful that I have my other senses. I’m also thankful that I have my mind. I don’t take it for granted. My mind is my super power. I’m able to choose, daydream, remember, love, influence, survive, and create thanks to the most valuable gift that God gave me, my mind.

Thank you Lord for such a fantastic gift!