I was born by the name of Christopher Tomlinson in 1984, in the town of Brandon, Florida. Born like any other child, all ten fingers, all ten toes and healthy, but little did we know, lives were about to change significantly.
In June of 1986, I was playing on a swing as my mother watched through the kitchen window, peeling potatoes. My father was busy at work, and my sister was in her room. My mother looked down for a minute at the potatoes, and when she glanced back up, I was nowhere to be found.
She immediately thought I was playing in her garden and quickly checked, but I wasn’t there. She began to panic and before she knew it her child, was engulfed in flames. I had wandered into the back utility shed—me, being a curious boy and always wanting to know how things work. I spotted gasoline can, and as I was examining it, I poured the container, spilling the gas all over myself. A nearby water heater’s pilot light ignited causing the gasoline to ignite into flames.
Legay, my mother, immediately began to grab for her child, but repeatedly only pulled skin. Not giving up, she eventually grabbed hold of me and quickly put the fire out. Panicked and afraid, she began to scream for help. Nearby neighbours called 911. Legay held her child still yelling for help as they waited for the emergency crews to arrive.
I was med flighted by helicopter to Tampa General Hospital. I was covered in third-degree, and even fourth degree burns at over 97% of my body at barely two years old. My Mother, Legay, sister, Jessica, and father, Charles, amongst other family and friends were gathered in the waiting room and was told I had a one per cent chance to survive the night. The severe damage and burns done to such a young child were known to be at high mortality. My family waited patiently throughout out the night, praying and hoping I would survive.
The next day I miraculously survived that night and continued to hold on to life. After eight months in the hospital, I was able to return home with my family. I would have to relearn how to walk and perform daily everyday tasks all over again, and this time, with one hand. I was the youngest to survive the number of burns the I suffered.
My family and I soon relocated to Brockton, Massachusetts, to be closer to Shriners Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts.
Doctors performed many skin grafts and reconstruction on me for many years to follow. It became a yearly ritual. The school was different for me.
I would hear gasps in fear, kids in disgust, and even some of the parents. I didn’t let that bother me, though. I continued to enjoy my life as any other boy would.
I played with toys, blocks, and legos, I coloured and drew pictures. I had adapted to the tools I was given and was determined to keep going. I went through many surgeries throughout the years, ranging from skin grafts, bone reconstruction, and plastic surgery.
When skin is scarred as severely as mine, the skin can not stretch like other’s can, so surgeries would have to be performed, to cut and release the stretching and perform skin grafts to allow the body to grow. Many times I would miss school and often would need a tutor to catch up.
In the teenage years, this was when physical appearance began to hit me the most. This is when your body is changing, and you begin to see things differently in the world. My appearance often bothered me, but I would shake it off and accept that this is the way I am.
I became friends with almost everyone I met, causing them to laugh and smile as much as I could. I loved to bring joy to others around me. In June of 1999, my father passed away unexpectedly in the middle of the night. I remember it like yesterday even to this day.
It was the day I had lost a true best friend. Someone I admired and looked up to and wanted to be like one day. My entire world was thrown into chaos, and hope seemed to fade. I knew death was part of life, but I didn’t understand why my father had to die.
In eleventh grade, I transferred to a private school. Still going through surgeries, I fell far behind and had to repeat eleventh grade twice at this school. Not wanting to give up, I talked to a teacher that I looked up to and he told me there were no problems with going for my GED. Otherwise, I might repeat eleventh grade a few more years till I was done with my surgeries.
I decided to drop out and immediately went to classes for my GED. After about five months, I graduated from one of the tops in class and received my GED.
During this time, I struggled with depression and my appearance. Many times I closed myself off to the world and stayed in my room. I was ashamed of myself most times and didn’t want to hear others.
I was set on being single my entire life, thinking no one would love someone like me. Not long before getting my GED, I had met a young woman who’s mother had just passed away, and a mutual friend thought I could help her, knowing what it’s like to lose a parent.
Our friendship grew strong, and eventually, I worked up the courage to ask her out on a date. She agreed to which left me in shock. We fell in love, and after a year, I proposed to her with a poem. She said yes, and we were married in September of 2005.
I had told my love before that we may never have children due to the amount of medicine and such that I had received throughout my life. A few months pass, and my wife and I were expecting a baby.
We were so excited, and I knew this was a miracle. We prepared as much as we could, but soon my wife began to experience pain and discomfort. We quickly rushed to the hospital and was told she had miscarried twins.
We were crushed, and I took it hard and began to blame myself for it. If only I had never been burned or if only I didn’t have to have so much treatment, I’d be able to have my children right now.
Soon it was determined my wife’s blood was RH negative, and that caused the miscarriage. She received treatment needed, and eventually, on April 20, 2006, we had our first child, a beautiful little girl.
We named her Nevaeh; Heaven spelt backwards. I knew this was a gift from Heaven, and I was so in love with this child. On September 30, 2008, our second child, another daughter, named Trinity, was born two years later. I had chosen the name Trinity because I felt something about my second born, and thought she needed a strong and powerful name.
When Trinity was about four months old, she became very sick., She had a high temperature and wasn’t eating. We thought maybe she was teething, but it got worst. We rushed her to the hospital, and she was suffering from bacterial meningitis. In case you don’t know what that is, Bacterial meningitis is the most severe type of meningitis. It can lead to death or permanent disability. Meningitis affects the meninges, membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord, and the central nervous system, together with the cerebrospinal fluid.
We were told our child could die from this illness. She was admitted, and the nurses, doctors, and the rest of the staff were terrific. They were so kind and worked diligently. After a few days, Trinity began to sit up on her own and try to get out of bed. We had to calm her down and try to get her to lay down and rest.
After about a week, we were able to take our baby girl home and continue her medicine at home ourselves. After her treatments were done, she had no signs of anything. She was completely healed, and no after-effects at all. We were blessed again!
Fast forward a few more months to when Trinity was around ten months old. My wife and I volunteered at our church to run the soundboard and the computer. We had a friend from the church babysit for us that we knew for many years.
After we left the church and we came home. The baby sitter came out with Trinity. She was pale white, her eyes were rolled back into her head, she had some green stuff coming out of her mouth, and she was very limp. We were so confused, and in shock, we didn’t know what to think.
We quickly rushed her to the hospital, and she was immediately taken in. They took Nevaeh from us to examine her as well. We sat there waiting for forever; it seemed.
Eventually, two police officers came and asked to speak to us separately. I was brought to a room, and the police sat me down and started reading me my rights. I was terrified! Not only was I worried about my daughters, but now I’m getting my rights to read to me like I’m a criminal.
They started accusing me of using my right stub to hurt my child. I kept telling them I wasn’t home and we had witnesses to prove where we were. I also would never hurt my child. To use my deformity against me, hurt so bad. After a while, they brought my wife back in the room with me, and they told us Nevaeh was no longer in our care and was under the government’s supervision now.
This destroyed my heart…I felt so broken. The hospital staff agreed to let us stay with Trinity in the hospital as she was being cared for. We eventually found out that the baby sitter, our friend, who we thought we knew, had beaten Trinity almost to death because she was crying.
Trinity had broken ribs, a ruptured liver, and severe internal bleeding, and only at ten months old. I felt so helpless! As a father, you’re supposed to protect your children from harm. I had failed…my youngest was hurt, and we possibly could lose her, and my oldest daughter was no longer under our care.
I got mad a few times and would yell at God and ask Him “Why? Haven’t you done enough to me? Are you just a bully who likes to tamper with people?” At the same time, though, I begged God to save my baby girl. I knew He could help me pull through my childhood incident, so I knew He could pull Trinity through.
Miraculously Trinity pulled through after two weeks or so. Child services were involved with us for a few more months and then eventually dropped the case because we were good parents. The babysitter admitted to everything and was sentenced to prison for years. Then, life went on for us…
We eventually moved to another town and lived there for a few years until we decided to move closer to my wife’s family. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out, and we became homeless.
We lived in a family shelter for about six months, always saving and searching for a place to call home. Eventually, we found a place, but it wasn’t the best area, but we were tired of being in a shelter and wanted our place.
So, we took the tiny apartment. We were happy, we had our place again, and I had picked up a job at a computer repair shop, doing something I absolutely loved and soon my wife picked up a job as well. We felt like we were getting somewhere in life.
Both of us working, saving money, going on trips and such. I felt complete and had goals set for our future. Until something happened that I never expected to ever happen to me. After being married for 14 years, my wife fell out of love with me. We decided to separate, and she wanted me to keep the girls.
I asked her again to make sure because she is their mother, and I didn’t want them to lose her. We agreed I’d keep them and they’d visit whenever we could. My world was destroyed and shattered. I again blamed myself and figured if I didn’t look the way I did, she would still be with me. I always loved her and wanted her to be happy no matter what. I was determined to give my kids a life they deserved.
Soon after, my girls and I relocated to Florida to be with my mother to help me with my kids. We lived there temporarily while I slowly healed. After a few years, we decided to return to Massachusetts.
I’ve been raising my kids for the past four to five years on my own now. I recently decided to share my story on the internet and to stop hiding from the world. I knew there was a reason I’m alive today, and I knew the joy of life that I had needed to spread far and wide.
I wanted to show the world that no matter what, we all have the strength within us to keep going in life. Keep a positive mind and focused, and you can achieve great things.
My online status started to grow, and I now speak to thousands across the globe and share joy and laughter with everyone. I hope to travel the world with my story one day and continue to spread love, laughter, and fun to everyone I come across. I want to show the world that you truly can not judge a book by its cover, we might surprise you!
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