Introduction. Chapter One. Chapter Two. Chapter Three. Chapter Four. Chapter Five.
“Good morning, everyone; my name is Jocquetta, and I am blind.” You can hear in the crowd someone says “ah” very loudly. Jocquetta says, “Oh, it’s ok. I’ve been blind for two days.” Everyone laughs! “No, really, I became blind on my flight here.
I got up in the airplane when I shouldn’t have, and the plane went down in bad air; I went up and hit my head on a luggage bin, but that is not what started my blindness; it was the finish line for my blindness.
I was a Quarterback for many years growing up and had concussions that caused vision problems during my playing days. My doctors told me if I had another concussion, I could go blind. It was a tough decision to leave something I had been doing since I was three with my mom and dad.
So here I am blind; what to do? Should I feel sad or cry all the time can’t say because this is my second day being blind. So I am here to learn from all of you because some of the smartest and bravest people are here to learn from each other, plus the most important thing is to love each other.
I know we can cure blindness soon. I knew I could go blind at some point but not by a luggage bin in an airplane.”
Again, there’s laughter throughout the auditorium then someone yells out, “Don’t laugh!” Jocquetta says, “It’s ok; it’s funny. Blindness is not but come on, what are the odds. I may be the only person to lose their site that way.
I’ve been working for two years on a project called Owl vision. They have the best night vision in the bird world. We are so close to solving blindness; I know it. Bioluminescence research has shown a lot of promise. However, we’re still missing something, so Dr. Bridgestone suggested we interview people who are blind to get their perspectives on being blind.
So we did. I want to share a story about a gentleman named Chris I met that was blind from a car wreck for three months when I first met him.
What I discovered was something unexpected was that being blind has benefits like all your other senses, increasing your awareness to make up for being blind. I always wonder how the brain can do that re-wire itself to help the blind see in a way.
I was invited to his house; we hit it off right away; I spent two weeks with him, but the first two days were rough because I kept asking if he needed help, then I moved some furniture around.” Then someone in the crowd, “Yells out, that’s bad!”
Laughter fills the auditorium when someone yells out, “We love you, Jocquetta.” “You guys are going to make me cry. I love you guys too. Where was I? So on the third day, I showed up to talk with him at his home. He had a surprise waiting for me when I arrived.
He asked me if I trusted him because he wanted to make me blind. Then, he asked if he could make me blind for a day so I could get a little glimpse of what it’s like to be blind.
I ask him what do you mean by making me blind?” “He says he wants to blindfold me and take me on a tour of Paris with me, and his sister Kelly will come with us.”
“I agreed, and his sister was super nice, which made me feel ok with wearing a blindfold. However, as soon as I put it on, I immediately felt fear, which surprised me. I have had 380-pound linemen chasing me down to tackle me.
So fear is not in me; at least that’s what I thought; you can’t play football with fear our you will find yourself getting yourself or your teammates hurt.
We started by taking a bus ride because that’s how many blind people get around. He gave me some good advice be careful just reaching out with your hands because you don’t want to touch someone.
The smells in the bus were overwhelming; it was a mixture of body order and chemical cleaners. It was strange because I could not figure out what to do if you were not talking or listening to someone. After all, if I could see, I would look around and think about what I saw.
The bus ride was an hour long. As soon as we got off the bus, I could hear water. We walk a short distance. I could hear people talking about boats. Kelly handed me something and said put it on. I felt it right away. I knew this was a life jacket that freaked me out.”
Laughter falls in the auditorium then someone yells out, “Was it scary?” “At first, it was a little strange because I love boats I sailed worldwide with my parents twice. So being on the water felt natural until I could not see.
It was an eye-opening experience, no pun intended. What I learned that day was being blind is very difficult, more than I have ever imagined.
The last thing I would like to say is a poem I wrote called Owl City.
Seeing in the dark is not for me; why you ask? I’m an Owl. I live in the city; I live in the dark alleys of the streets. Some say I’m special; I say I can’t see; I’m blind. But in time, there will be a day I’m not blind. When will that be? Just in time.”
Everyone in the auditorium stands up, screaming, “We love you, Jocquetta.”
By Michael Vance Pemberton
I woke up one day and decided to learn to write. I pray and hope I’m getting better.
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