Less than a year ago, my sister passed away after a several month bout with cancer. As it gets closer to what would have been her forty-eighth birthday on May 11th, I find myself thinking of her and the effect she had on so many lives during her short life. As I think of her, I am continually amazed at what she accomplished with the trials and tribulations that she lived through.
My parents had two children, Julia and I. I am, or was, the oldest. Both of us were born handicapped. I hate that word; “handicapped.” It has a stigma attached to it for many people. We both inherited eye conditions from my father. My condition was not nearly as serious as Julia’s. Both of us were born with cataracts. As such, I have nearly no vision in my left eye and I have had a successful corrective surgery on the right. Julia, however, not only had cataracts in both eyes, but a detached optic nerve in one eye (which one I cannot remember) and glaucoma. Over the years, Julia had more than twelve surgeries to try to save her sight. As she explained to me one time, her sight would get better for a while after a surgery but then go back to where it was or get worse. It came to the point where Julia completely lost her sight a few years ago.
None of what she went through stopped her from living a full life. She achieved a Master’s degree in Education and Counseling. Her first job was as a counselor for the State of Illinois where she worked with abused children. When she decided to leave Illinois for Minnesota, she was unable to find work because of her physical limitations with not being able to drive. I did what I could to help her by building a website specifically for visually impaired people which Julia called eyes2eyes.com. And though her sight began to gradually fade, she built her website into a large community of support for those suffering with various visual conditions by doing online and phone counseling. The hard work she put into the site with posted articles, tips and so on to help the visually impaired got the attention of media around the world to the point where she did a guest radio appearance in Australia, and co-hosted a radio show based in France that catered specifically to those who were visually impaired. Though she made have been “handicapped”, Julia touched the lives and helped many people all over the world. One of her best friends she made though her work lives in Israel and Niki honored Julia by flying here for her funeral last August.
My point is telling you all this is not to boast of Julia’s accomplishments. My point is that no matter whom we are or what our situation is, God has given each of us a special talent. It is up to us to find that and to nurture it because we are all special in his eyes. He has given us each of us something special within ourselves. Julia found that and made the best of her situation. Our gift doesn’t have to be something that is world changing. All it has to do it to make your world a special place for you and those around you.
As for me, I was closer to Julia than to anyone else in our family. Now that she is gone, I am in a very lonely place right now. So I have taken Julia’s lead and begun to use some of those special things that God has given me that I let slip over the years that bring me and those around me joy. It has helped to get me through those days where I truly feel alone in a world full of people. Happy birthday Julia, I miss you more than mere words can ever express.
~The Quiet Computer Guy
The Quiet Computer Guy does web design/development, multimedia design/production and is an adjunct faculty member at a community college. He volunteers his time helping non-profits and small businesses with their web site and computer needs. In his spare time, he plays with a local classic rock band.