Sunday, June 27, 2010

A Brother's Arm (Revisited)

Most people would say that I have bad luck. But I choose not to look at my circumstances that way. I see them as challenges, obstacles to overcome, unfamiliar territory that God must have thought I needed to discover and conquer. I trust that all of my life experiences, the good ones and the ones that didn’t feel so good, were God’s way of teaching me something I needed to know.

My last semester in college, God must have been trying to put me in a crash course of some wild, highly complicated science of surviving a crises. Here I was, trying to get out of college as soon as possible. I was taking twenty hours, and all of my teachers acted as if they had all teamed up and decided that each of them were going to shove as much work on me as possible. But I was up for the challenge. I had already endured four tough years at University of North Texas. Why were the years so tough? Well, being totally blind probably had a little to do with it. But I didn’t let that stop me. I had one more semester before I would be walking across the stage to receive my bachelors degree.

Everything was going smoothly, that is, until I slipped off the side of a sidewalk and cracked the bone in my ankle. When I heard the bone that helped my left leg balance on my left foot snap, I panicked. I knew that this broken bone was going to possibly throw a monkey wrench in my goal to graduate. I thought to myself, “How in God’s name will I use a cane for the blind and use crutches to get to class?? This was absolutely great. I was already blind. Now here I was, in the middle of the semester, blind and crippled. I started to ponder the possibility of not graduating. I guess this would be yet another time that people would probably say that my buddy, bad luck, had thrown me another party. But I was determined to vacuum up the confetti and pop all of the balloons. I was going to crash this party. I was going to graduate on time.

One of my brothers on campus… Well, he’s not my birth brother. But that’s how I referred to Dhati. He was one of the few men in my life that I felt close enough, trusted, enough, fought enough, forgave enough, and loved enough to call my brother. He did what any good brother would do. This strong, chocolate college football star offered to give me what I never expected him or anyone for that matter to give. He offered to help me get to all of my classes until I got strong enough to walk on my own. He knew that it would be hard for me to hold a white cane in front of me and grip crutches with each of my hands. I would have to grow another arm to do that. But now I did have another arm, my brother’s arm.

Every day, Dhati would knock at my door with his strong fist and tell me to hurry. Even though he seemed to be a little impatient, I didn’t mind. He was doing more than I could thank him for doing. He helped me get to class, so that I could walk to the stage that I longed to cross, the stage that I did cross. I graduated on time, just as I hoped to do.

Dhati reached out his hand and offered his arm to help hold up his sister, just as a brother should do. I knew in my heart that this man would be my brother for life. I can still fill his arm of love holding me up and helping me get to my various stages of success.


It’s been years since you and I have talked. But I never forget about what you gave to me. Thank you for helping me cross one of the most important stages in my life. I don’t take it for granted.


Angela Braden**

Written and Previously Posted-July 2007

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Forever? (Revisited)

Last night, my darling, Jasmine, walked over to me, lifted herself up, and plopped her little body into my ever-available lap. She rested her head on my chest and asked me a question that probably has been lingering in her head for at least a few minutes, which is a long time when looking at the attention span of a five-year-old.

"Ann, are you going to be blind forever?"

The word "forever" rang loudly in my head. I didn't quite know what to say. "Forever is such a long time." I thought. And the idea of admitting that my blindness could be sticking around forever was a bit overwhelming at that particular moment.

I quickly thought, "What do I tell her?" If I say yes, I would basically be telling the truth. Well, at least the doctor's version of the truth... But saying yes is surrendering to the condition, and signaling to the atmosphere and perhaps God that I don't have enough faith to believe that I will see again.

The truth is that I absolutely want to see again. And I would do anything, and I mean anything to get that chance. But to be quite honest, I think that I am at a place that I honestly believe that the chances of seeing again are slim to none. But I haven't always felt this way.

When I first started losing my sight, my folks used to drag me to every healing crusade, revival, and conference that was being held in the city. My aunts would recommend certain preachers that they believed had the gift of healing to my Mama. And my mama would take me to each of them, hoping that the Lord would touch her baby and give her sight back. And I was hoping too.

So, it didn't matter to me how many prayer lines I needed to stand in, how much blessed oil needed to be splashed on my forehead, how many times I needed to turn around in a circle, and how many meals I had to fast from...I wanted to see again. And I believed that God could do it. And I really thought that believing that He could do it meant that He would do it.

But with each passing year, the Glaucoma that was ravishing my eye continued to get worse, and my sight continued to fade. By the time I was thirteen-years-old, my right eye was completely blind. And the visual acuity in the left eye was so bad that I could not walk in unfamiliar territories without sighted assistance. But I didn’t stop believing though. I continued to fast, pray, anoint my own head with oil, get prayer from the elders, call prayer lines, quote scriptures, and declare the victory over my blindness.

But to no avail, despite 14 surgeries and my unwavering faith in God, I lost all of my functional vision my senior year in high school. I only had light perception in my left eye. But no matter how dark it was, I continued to fast and pray. I refused to give up.

Two years later, the tiny bit of sight that I had left to let me know if the sun had rose in the morning had left me. And I was left in total darkness and complete despair. My faith was shattered, and I begin to wonder if believing and expecting a healing was handicapping my ability to “see” what God truly wanted for my life.

After a lot of aching and pain, I realized that I saw God as a healer and not a sustainer. I believed that He could heal me. But strangely enough, I didn’t believe that He could make life with blindness be alright.

Huge leap from then to now…

I do believe that God can heal. But I refuse to spend too much time dreaming about the day that Angie possibly gets her sight back. Instead, I spend my time trying to figure out how I can trust God to see what it is I’m supposed to be looking at.

So, back to Jasmine's profound question... After allowing memories of pain, disappointment, and sadness rush through my head, I took a deep breath and with confidence, I told Jasmine that yes, her aunt will probably be blind forever. And that it is truly okay.

**Initially Written and Posted December 2008**

Sunday, June 13, 2010

This is perhaps my shortest post I've ever posted on my blog. I just felt compelled to share a lil' something-something I wrote as my status update on Facebook. This is short, but it says volumes about who I really am.

"I'm a barrel of imperfection, a wardrobe of flaws, a garden of conflicts, an ocean of frailty, and a coppice of ambiguity. When you blend all of that with love and faith in God, I become full of amazing potential to become perfect and beautiful in Him.:

See, told you it was short and sweet!

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

My Random Thoughts About Very Specific Things

Every now and then, I post an edition of my "random thoughts" on my blog. I usually do that when I have something to say, but my thoughts are so all over the place, it's hard to write one complete post about one subject. So, here I am tonight, all over the place, but still with something to say. So, these are my random thoughts.**

1. A friend of mine asked me if I wear gloves when I wash dishes. I told him that I prefer not to wear gloves when I'm doing certain tasks, simply because I rely on my sense of touch to do a good job at whatever I'm doing.
I relax my hair without gloves. I clean the tub and sink without gloves. I clean the top and inside of the stove without gloves.
Yeah, sometimes I feel kind of gross for letting these hands of mine touch such germy areas. However, I figure as long as there is soap and water, I can wash my hands and keep moving.
Because of my "no loves" preference, I have a tough time growing my natural nails. I have to go to the salon and get fake nails if I want my hands to look like I care about myself. :)

2. Lately all of my friends are talking about their class reunions. However, I'm not talking about mine. :(
I graduated from the school for the blind, where the graduating classes were on average between 12 and 20 people. Most of the class had other disabilities aside from the blindness, which often times included mild mental retardation. Basically, the make-up of a single class didn't have the people in it that could/would actually plan a reunion. And if they did, only half a dozen would show.
It kind of makes me feel a little sad. Well, not a little sad... a teeny-tiny-bit sad... LOL
Perhaps one day, they'll have one big reunion for multiple classes. That would be great. I would actually go.

3. My desk-top and lap-top decided to take a dirt nap last month. I had to break down and buy a new computer. Even though it's a fabulous computer, I really couldn't afford a purchase like that right now. Sometimes, I wish I could just pull out a pen and paper like the average chick. Oh well...

4. I wish that one of these metal birds flying over my house would swoop down and gobble me up, fly to the west coast, and then spit me out.
**Yes, I know that sounds crazy as hell. LOL**
That's how bad I need a vacation!!!!!!!!!!

5. Sometimes, I get sick of being the blind ____________. It's so sickening at times. I hate it that certain people only see my blindness when they see me.
It's like my blindness makes them blind to seeing the "real" me. They don't see that I'm smart, capable, out-going, professional, or social. All they see are these blind eyes of mine.
Oh well... All I can say is that it is their loss.

6. Next month, I will join the population of Americans that actually have medical insurance!!!!!!!! Yay!
My Medicare will become active again. I'm going to every kind of doctor I can in the next few months. LOL
I think I have an iron deficiency. I hope nothing else is wrong with me.

7. Sleeping sometimes feels like a chore. It's one of those things I feel like I have to do, rather than something I want to do.
Well, I guess I have to go to sleep now. No wonder I wake up and still feel tired... I had to work to go to sleep. LOL

Good night!