This week, Audrey’s Corner provides a platform for stories of disabilities. While there is always room for improvement in our ableist society, Sacred Heart University prides itself on being an accepting and accommodating place for all, sharing resources in and out of the classroom for students with disabilities. Dr. Cara Kilgallen, Director of the Department of Languages and Literatures, teaches a class every year called “Disability Stories,” in which she creates a safe environment for students to learn and share about how disability affects their lives. Dr. Kilgallen, along with Sacred Heart students Nicole Geres, Jordan Greene and a gifted writer who would prefer to remain anonymous, share their own stories of disability.
Dr. Kilgallen on “Disability Stories”
As an English professor, I have a deep reverence for storytelling and my students’ stories about perseverance often inspire me the most. This semester, I’m teaching “Disability Stories” for the third time, and the contributions of my class never cease to amaze me. This course looks at American literature to understand disability (physical as well as cognitive) and vice versa. We read Helen Keller’s Autobiography and Tennessee Williams’s The Glass Menagerie, to name a few writings. Literature reveals so much about life; my students will enter a variety of fields, from education and writing to wellness and healthcare. Considering Sacred Heart University’s Mission and an emphasis on accessibility, disability is always a timely topic and one that many members of our community can relate to both personally and professionally. Specifically, students in the class contribute a wide array of fresh perspectives on disability, which is both an identity and a difference that deserves dignity and respect. According to disability activist and literary scholar Rosemary Garlin Thomas, all human beings will become disabled if they are lucky to live long enough. Reading, hearing, writing and sharing stories about disability and difference will surely deepen our understanding of human experience.
“Blue” by Nicole Geres
When I think of blue,
I think of you.
Blue; the ocean, the sky,
all of those things make me wonder why?
What do I do now that I cannot have you when I need?
You were, and will always be, my best friend indeed.
I always knew to take pictures of you when you looked pretty.
Now, as I hold them shaking like a leaf,
I didn’t realize how different you looked until it hit me.
I miss hearing your laugh,
the laugh you could hear from a mile away.
I still look for you as if you are my prey.
I am so happy that you are able to fly.
But now I cannot help but wonder, why can’t I?
Blue; the ocean, the sky.
All more beautiful with you dancing in them.
More blue than I have thought; bluer than I have ever dreamt.
All beautiful things that are all the shade of blue.
I cannot move on from this, and I do not know what to do.
It affects me every day whenever I see the shade of blue.
However, the only thing that gets me out of bed
is that I still love to see all YOUR
shades of blue.
“The Beauty of Tiffani Greene” by Jordan Greene
There is one person that comes to mind whenever I think about the topic of disability. That person happens to be my late aunt Tiffani Greene, who passed away in 2020 when Covid-19 was at its height.
My aunt had the most beautiful singing voice. If you heard her sing in person, you would probably want to know the next city she was stopping at for her world tour. Not only that, but her personality would light up a room, in good and bad ways. Despite her contagious laugh and warm attitude, my aunt could get down to business if it was necessary. When she would direct the choir at her church, the men and women knew to follow their orders or they would feel the wrath of my aunt.
With having such beautiful energy, my aunt was held back toward the last years of her life because of her amputated leg that was a result of Stage II Diabetes. Every time I saw her use some sort of assistance for even using the bathroom, I couldn’t help but feel some sort of sadness for her.
But no matter the circumstance, whenever I was around, my aunt did her best to show her strength whenever she couldn’t do certain things that she needed to do. Because of that strength that my aunt showed, I know that disabilities for all people that have one can be overcome not just by physical practice, but by mental stability as well. If the mind is trained to believe in oneself, then anything can be done. My aunt displayed that, and that is why she will forever be one of my heroes.
RIP Tiffani Greene.
“I Used to See in Color” by A Gifted Sacred Heart Writer
I used to see in color.
I used to see green grass and vibrant violet hydrangeas.
I saw bright blue skies filled with marshmallow white clouds and red cardinals dancing through the wind.
There were electric colors in big cities parading shocks of every hue in the rainbow.
The cerulean sea shone under the sun and pushed pastel shells onto the sand.
My bedroom was filled with warm yellows and oranges that glowed with an autumn vibe the whole year round.
I don’t see it anymore.
The colors that were once vibrant and bright are now dulled.
The world of color is grey now.
I used to see in color. Now it doesn’t feel like I can see at all.