April 12, 2009


"The courage to be who I am now"

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 aloneness.

"There will be times his strength is tested."

"Some secrets give us strength."

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 them..."

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.

"And 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.



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