DENTON, Texas - Nine-year-old Ben Pierce of Denton, Texas isn't blind - at least not yet. But he is practicing for that eventuality.
Born 17 weeks premature, Ben suffers from a condition that is slowly stealing his sight. He has already lost his peripheral vision. His parents, Dan and Heidi, say the rest is fading fast.
"And so our goal became, what can we help him experience, to store up these memories," said Heidi Pierce. "And we sat him down and said, 'What do you think would be cool to see? What's on your wish list?'"
For the last year, the Pierces have been crossing sites off Ben's before-I-go-blind-bucket-list.
They have explored everything from the depths of Arizona to high above Alaska. From places they can go in their van to far away Van Goghs.
He is nine - which is also reflected in the list itself.
"He wanted to see the inside of the Apple store," said Heidi. "And his enthusiasm about seeing these things, his joy, is contagious."
Today it's chalk under a microscope.
That was actually on the list. His parents really are trying to cram in as many different visuals as they can.
"He'll be able to talk about what the ocean is like with his kids," said Dan.
"And he will remember in his mind what that looks like because he was there before," said Heidi.
It's a gift he may never be able to fully appreciate - at least so I thought.
When asked if he realizes how lucky he is that his parents are making all this happen Ben got a little emotional. He considered that for quite a while - then asked a question:
"Do you have a pencil?"
As his parents later explained, when Ben finds a question too emotional to answer, he prefers to draw it out. Eventually he handed me a full sheet of doodles - which included the word "aurora," as in borealis; a little guy saying "wow!"; the words "I pad from dad" and the inside of the Apple store.
And all this equals, "Yes! I'm thankful!"
Ben may be losing his eyesight, but he clearly sees what he's got.
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