"The courage to be who I
Virginia Codas - Vicky
"Sometimes we must leave
our safe places, and walk empty handed among our enemies."
Vincent and Catherineís story have had such
a transforming impact on so many. Invaluable lessons of love,
courage, hope, compassion, have touched us deeply, helped us grow;
and twenty years later here we are still, many lives as testaments
of that dream kept alive. I feel lucky to have been in the path of
its transforming power, though my little story may be just like
that of many others. However, Vincent and Catherineís courage to
leave their safe places and try to have their love survive in both
worlds has always been an inspiration, and a reminder that I was
not alone, that I just had to follow my heart.
"Catherine, we are
something that has never been. And our journey is one none have
ever taken. We are just now setting out.
We must go with courage, and we must go with care. "
This has often reminded me of my mom. I was born with a very
rare eye condition that rendered me totally blind. After the
initial shock for my parents was over and they got used to the
fact I would never be able to see, my mom begun writing letters
abroad, talking to people, getting all kinds of training to teach
me, because in this small country, Paraguay (South America), very
little had been done so far in terms of not just education, but
true insertion of blind children to the real world. Contrary to
the opinion of family and friends who thought the only chance for
me was the very basic school for the blind available here, mom
insisted I should have the same opportunities my sister and
brother had. Thus, after having many doors shut down on her before
finding help, I got to be the first blind girl here in Paraguay to
attend a regular school. This journey of trial and error must have
been scary for her, and I think it was her courage, not mine,
which got me through elementary school. So far she had been the
one doing all the fighting. I can say I wasnít aware of the hard
work that went into some things. It was a happy childhood.
Thinking of this, I have often wondered how it was for Vincent.
The children who grew up with him must have seen his differences
as a natural thing; but Iíve wondered how his awareness of those
differences was dealt with to eventually result in such feeling of
"There will be times his
strength is tested."
"Some secrets give us
Awareness of some of that hard work became clearer as I was
growing up, and even though I took part on everything like
everyone else Ė roles in school plays, directing our choir,
parties (which I hated), etc., Ė sometimes it was not easy not
having someone to share similar experiences with. After all, I was
somehow setting a precedent, and that was a scary thought! But
meeting Vincent and Catherine soon became that
strengthening secret: here was someone speaking of following
oneís heart, safe places for everyone and risks that were worth
everything... all of which did a lot for my self-confidence so I
could keep going. I finally finished school successfully, but
university got to be a little discouraging at times: a couple of
teachers actually suggested I dropped their internship subjects
because they thought no school would allow me to practice. But
like Elizabeth, I was not finished! I had to finish what I started!
"You have the strength.
You have the courage. We both know that. So you must use
Well, not only did I find a school, but I was offered a
permanent job there - my first real one - as a music teacher for
middle and high-school kids. There had never been a blind teacher
in a regular school here either, and much as I loved the challenge
and I knew I qualified for it, the whole picture was a little
intimidating. The principals, the school staff, my students - and
their parents Ė everyone would have to get used to me. It helped
me to think Catherine must have faced something very similar: it
must have been so hard feeling she had to prove herself to Moreno,
Joe, Edie, her father, even Vincent, but most of all, to herself.
So I went to my first class with that in mind, and to reinforce
that feeling of encouragement, I remember using The Return
- from the Of Love and Hope CD Ė for our first activity. That
image the music brings, of Vincent taking Catherine back Above
through the tunnels in the pilot episode, with the gift of his
trust in her to do what she has to do, has always had an immediate
calming effect on me.
it is a little frightening when our dreams begin to come trueÖ"
It felt good to realise that so far I had accomplished
everything I set myself to do, and what was expected of me. Mom
use to say my life has been a sum of experiments, but, isnít that
what life is for everyone? In any case, this "sum of experiments"
was put to its greatest test last year, 2008, when I travelled to New
Jersey for the annual Beauty and the Beast convention. My momís
reaction was like Fatherís at the news of Vincentís trip to
Connecticut, and the rest of my family behaved like the tunnel
dwellers, but I could understand, though: after all, I would be
going miles from home on my own for the first time, to meet with
people I met on the internet and whom Iíd never seen before. But
what they didnít know is that these friends shared with me
precisely the values which had secretly helped me so much to grow
and find the courage to be who I was now. I didnít want to make
Vincentís mistake and regret it later; I had to go, and so I did.
And I believe it was the best experience of my life!
"Sometimes, events in our
lives can show us what weíve known all along."
Following our heart is not always an easy path. It requires
patience, persistence, and a lot of courage, (sometimes our own,
and sometimes we feed on anotherís). I suppose we can only try to
do the best we can, since our lives may be the ones touching
others in return, like Vincent and Catherine inspired many of us.