When Shane Lowe signed up to participate in the Louisville Story Program‘s writing workshop at the Kentucky School for the Blind, he had no way of knowing he’d end up writing about such a momentous life event.
During the 2015-2016 school year, Joe Manning, LSP’s Deputy Director, ran a writing workshop with KSB students, meeting them for an hour a day, 4 days a week, to teach them a college-level creative nonfiction workshop.
“Initially, we just kind of went over the nuts and bolts of creative writing,” Manning says. “And then as the program advanced, I started giving the authors individualized prompts relating to stories they’d told me as I’d gotten to know them better.”
The result was “We Can Hear You Just Fine,” an anthology written by the 7 students who participated in the workshop. They wrote stories about their lives, from the mundane to the profound, and what it’s like to grow up blind in a world that’s set up for sighted people.
Shane has been involved with KSB since he started attending their summer camps at age 5. Now he lives on the campus as part of the school’s independent living program. It’s where he met his girlfriend, Madelyn Loyd, who’s also one of the anthology’s authors. And it was during the workshops that Shane and Madelyn found out they were going to have a baby.
“As soon as I found out, all of our emotions were all over the place,” he says. “We knew that it was a good thing, and we never had any sort of doubt about — ultimately this was going to be fantastic and it was going to make both of our lives infinitely better.”
Kayson Oliver Lowe was born on May 24, 2016. Shane was 16 years old.
He explores the emotions involved in becoming a young father in his chapter of the anthology:
Let’s be real: Having a baby is terrifying regardless of how old you are. I can’t imagine not being a bit nervous when you find out that you’ve just started growing a little creature, and that very same mystical being is yours for the rest of your life. But, even though it was a lot to take in, we never considered adoption. If this is how the cards were meant to fall, the best advice I had for myself was to stack the chips, neatly, and play the game.
Fatherhood changed everything. “Every thought that I have, and everything that I do, really leads back to Kayson now,” he says.
He’s finishing school, splitting his time between KSB and Central High School. He also works as an accessibility consultant for a publishing company, helping them make their products easier for blind people to use.
“Everything just leads back to how I can provide for him in a better way, and how I can give him a better life.”
Communication, or lack thereof, is a big theme in Shane’s writing. He talks about his feelings of disconnection from his family, and the struggle to be emotionally open with them. One of his passages describes in great detail a Christmas Eve dinner when his mother asked the family whether they remembered any happy times from past holidays:
All of us were quiet for a while, and I imagine my face went through a series of expressions: first the look people get when they are thinking, going far back into their minds to remember the most infinitesimal details. Then I likely looked happy for a moment. And finally, sadness because of all the times I did remember but couldn’t say out loud. I don’t know why. I just felt like I couldn’t say them. Yes, Mom, I do remember.
But like everything else in his life, fatherhood has also changed how he relates to his family.
“I want my family in my life, and I want to have a much better relationship with them,” he says. “As a parent now, I have this perspective: when Kayson’s a teenager, I don’t want him to be distant from me. I always want to know what he would have to say, and what’s going on in his life. I can’t imagine what it would be like for someone to have their child withhold that.”
“We Can Hear You Just Fine” will be published in braille, large print, and regular print editions on Nov. 10. A free book launch celebration is scheduled that night at the Clifton Center, featuring the authors reading their work.
This story has been updated.