Monday, November 18, 2013

His story








"Can I ask what happened to you?"

In the store. In elevators. At the park. Locally, and any time we go out of town. He gets this question a lot.

Sometimes (a lot of times) people stare. Children, and adults too. We recently went to have lunch with my daughter Katie, and looking back at us in the cafeteria were rows and rows of kids looking at Brad. Staring. Curious. He's used to it. He smiles, and makes sure that who ever is thinly disguising their shock, or curiosity, knows that he's so much more than his scars.

For me, I never saw Brad any way other than who he is.
The single most positive person I have ever met. (If you meet him you'll know that too.) :)
He's someone who has a heart of gold, who's a hard worker and is kind to everyone.
Someone who is not limited. Someone who will inspire you, the second you meet him.
So it took me by surprise when we started dating and we got so many looks everywhere we went.

I wanted to share his story, because we should all have more "Brad's" in our lives. :)
Someone who will overcome every single obstacle put before them, and will be better for them.

When my husband was two years old, his life changed drastically. He and his parents were on vacation, riding along in their 68 Dodge van. He was just a baby. A blonde haired little cutie with big blue eyes, who was standing in the front of the van  in between his Mama and Daddy. (He smiles and tells me now "they didn't have seat belt laws then".)
But something was wrong. There was a pin hole in the gas line of the van. That gas was dripping onto the top of the engine, and it sparked. The van caught fire, and Brad was right in line of the fire that engulfed the cab. Out of instinct, his parents bailed out of the van at first. And as the van rolled down the freeway, Brad was in the van alone. Burning. By the time his father caught up with the van and pulled Brad out by his ankles, the fire had burned roughly 60% of his body. But he was alive.
As a parent, I absolutely can't imagine the terror that was felt on that day.

Brad was flown to the nearest burn unit, where he was stabilized and the doctors assessed the damage from the accident. After he was stable he was flown to the hospital Rancho Los Amigos in his home state of California, where he'd spend the next nine months straight. Surgery after surgery. Skin grafts, reconstructive surgery. Therapy to help him learn how to eat again, to walk again.

Even after being released from the hospital that first time, he would go back about twice a year for more surgeries.

But something happened that I love because it's so indicative of Brad's character. He pushed himself, really hard. He learned to button his shirts by himself. (You see, Brad has no fingers)
Even still, Brad wears button down shirts nearly every day. Because he can. :) Because he's a tad bit stubborn, and has a whole lot of perseverance. :)

Brad reminds me that we all have a choice. We can be crippled by things that happen to us, or we can grow beyond them and be more than we may have otherwise. If Brad hadn't have been in the accident that day, he may not have learned to be a conqueror. He may not have become an awesome drummer, a great basketball player. He may not have become a person who never complains.
He may not have become a camp counselor at Camp Sunshine, mentoring children who have scars of their own.
He may not have been as compassionate, as determined to be positive.
He may not have been quite as funny as he is. (I can't tell you how many times he's said something like- "Well, something is wrong with that, but I can't put a finger on it") :)

He may not have become who he is. He has peace about the cards he's been dealt.
I love that so many people have said that they're better for knowing him. They're the ones who go beyond "what happened to you?" and get to know him, for who he is. More than his skin.
I am thankful for the light that he has inside of him. I'm thankful to share life with someone who truly inspires me, every day.
And he reminds me that we should all look a little bit deeper at a person. We all have our scars, we've all been through things that have changed us. Who we become after is what matters.

Paint yourself a picture
Of what you wish you looked like
Maybe then they just might
Feel an ounce of your pain

Come into focus
Step out of the shadows
It's a losing battle
There's no need to be ashamed

'Cause they don't even know you
All they see is scars
They don't see the angel
Living in your heart

Let them find the real you
Buried deep within
Let them know with all you've got
That you are not your skin
Oh oh, oh oh

And when they start to judge you
Show them your true colors
And do on to others
As you'd have done to you

Just rise above this
Kill them with your kindness
Ignorance is blinded
They're the ones that stand to lose

'Cause they don't even know you
All they see is scars
They don't see the angel
Living in your heart

Let them find the real you
Buried deep within
Let them know with all you've got
That you are not your skin
Oh

Well they don't even know you
All they see is scars
And they don't see the angels
Living in your heart

So let them find the real you
Buried deep within
Let them know with all you've got
That you are not
You are not your skin
Oh oh, oh oh

Lyrics from Skin-Sixx A.M. Brad and his friend Eric performed this song at Camp Sunshine and it was perfect.

24 comments:

  1. Charin, thank you. I know it wasn't easy trying to put into words the thousand rays of awesome that Brad shines on the people who really know him; you did a great job.

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    1. Thank you so much John! I've had it on my heart to do for awhile. I'm glad I finally did. :)

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  2. I have met Brad and believe that God is definitely working through him. He is all the things you have said above and more.

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    1. Thanks Michelle! :) He definitely has a higher purpose. <3

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  3. What an amazing way to tell the world how wonderful Brad is! And it is so true. Charin would come in to work and talk about him and I always wondered how she could "see past the scars" they were so prominent. And then I met Brad. At my 30th birthday party, and INSTANTLY knew how not only...do you see through them, but you don't see them at all. They don't exist once you know him. All you see is Brad and his personality and the love he has.

    Charin and Brad are two amazing people and are here on this great Earth for a wonderful purpose. I hope they live each moment together in complete happiness and find that purpose together!

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    1. Thank you so much Amanda! Love you, friend. :)

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  4. Charin,

    Brad and I became friends when he first started Redwood Elementary in Fontana, Ca. We lost touch for many, many years as I had moved and lost contact. But I always have great memories of our childhood, I'd go over and play at his house and him at mine. I had always thought about him throughout the years and how he was doing. I'm so glad I was able to find him on Facebook and see how happy you two are. You two are amazing and I'm so happy with your new little addition to your family.

    Ruben Lopez

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    1. Ruben, Brad has told me about you! :) He would LOVE to be able to see you again. Thank you so much for your sweet comments!

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  5. Love to both of you.
    What an inspiration.....you and Brad both.
    You have a beautiful family, hearts the size of Texas, and a heartwarming spirit.
    Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Deb, thank you so much! <3 You know I'm crazy about that guy. :) Love you!

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  6. After you commented on my IG yesterday, my husband and I spent a long time scrolling through yours. At first, I won't lie, there was the initial shock of "wow, he was burned really badly, I wonder what happened!" and then our comments turned more into ones of, "wow, they are so strong, what a love story they must have." We were both so inspired by your story! What an incredible, incredible couple you two are. Your children will truly be blessed by the love that you share.
    And thank you for sharing this story!
    Haley

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    1. Haley! I love that. :) Thank you so much for reading. :) Thank you for your kind comments!

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  7. What a great story. It brought tears to my eyes. I'm proud to say Brad is a friend of mine.

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  8. I totally forgot I knew this about Brad being in a fire...it's totally true, "you are not your skin"...wow. And, YOU are obviously a pretty special catch too ;) ♥

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  9. Hi, Charin and Brad. I have never had the honor of meeting you, but "Buster" (Clarence) is my first cousin, so we are cousins, too. His mom and my mom were sisters. I remember Buster telling us about the accident many years ago and he was so hurt that his precious baby was burned, but he was so proud of his wonderful brave son and he is to this day. I got to visit with him at our cousins reunion this summer in Branson. I hope we can meet soon. If you get to Branson, look me up. your dad has my number. Love, Teresa DeVisser.

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    1. Hi Teresa! Thank you for such a sweet comment! We would love to meet you one day. :) We're not too far away from Branson.

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  10. What a beautiful story about a beautiful man. I first met Brad several years ago as he was a friend of my son Jamie, but through your facebook posts I feel I have gotten to know him. You are so blessed as well as your children to have found a man so giving and with such a beautiful soul. I know God has a plan for you and your children when he brought Brad into your life. Thanks for sharing your story. I have received many stares for many years due to my weight especially from children and cruel people. The children I can deal with but sometimes the cruel people are more than I can take. This has inspired me to think positive and just realize those people that are that way are miserable human beings and I should be praying for them.

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    1. Lyla, you are beautiful jus as you are! :) Thank you so much for always being so sweet to me. :)

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  11. What an amazing and beautiful story! He is truly a gift!!

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  12. Charin
    I have to admit I was shocked by this blog and have always wondered how Mr. Brad had gotten his burns. Now, I am glad that I read his story and I have to tell you that I am so happy to call you my friend and would love to meet him one day when we are in town visiting. As long as I have known you, I never took you as someone who looks at the cover of the book but someone who reads the words that are inside of it. I have always thought what two people who were truly soul mates looked like and now I know. I am truly glad that one of our children share the same name (Collin) and hope that God continues to shine his grace and wonder on your family. Thankyou for sharing Brads story and bringing to light how a tragedy can show just how tough and great true love is and how it is actually supposed to be shown between people.

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  13. Thank you so much! :) I would love to see you too and to catch up. Thank you for such a sweet comment.

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