When we set out to video document our family world trip, we had no preconceived notion of how things were going to go. We were still grieving for Ryan. I guess we will always be. Our boys deserved a full life which is never fully under control. We were willing to be transparent for the next six months, with the hope that our story would help others living under the shroud of fear which seems to swallow those who have lost loved ones in tragic accidents.
It wasn’t a comfortable decision. Recovering from burns on over 25% of your body was tough for each of us and required continuous personal ‘upkeep.’ When you have skin grafts, the healthy skin is removed from one healthy area of your body to repair the damaged part somewhere else. You have to treat two sites, keeping sites clean and creamed. You can’t escape the pain or discomfort. Stretching my grafted legs became a necessary routine for me, and the sun which I had always loved, had become my enemy.
Even so, we embraced a challenge. A family adventure – more than 30 countries, together all day and night, every day and night for over 180 days straight, so:
- We put ourselves in extreme circumstances of unfamiliarity.
- We faced our fears of losing another child, by reminding each other we would not be defeated.
- We took our boys out of the safety of the home ‘training ground’ and pushed them into the ‘proving ground’ of public scrutiny.
- And the videographer exposed us for who we really are under pressure.
What did we hope to gain in exchange for our transparency? Recovery. Restoration. Reward. Renewal . . . . for ourselves and others who had been fractured from loss and grief. We had faith in each other – faith in our family – faith in our research – faith in our future – faith in God. We were armed. We could do this!
Adventure is always unscripted. No rehearsals, no makeup touch ups. Just a douse of reality in the family adventure thing. We tell our story as authentically as possible. Real life is always completely out of order, messy, fragmented, surprising, disappointing and encouraging. To help each other, we must all be transparent.
After a full year of editing and sequencing our story, we have a television show which meets every requirement we have: Transparent recovery. We hope to raise the expectations of others who have suffered, to lift the expectations of other burn victims and their families so they could live again. While traveling, we brought joy and love to others, and accepted the joy and love they gave to us. And we did it as a family, then and from this day forward.
When you go on an adventure, take a camera. But make sure you make your lives as transparent as possible. No one can tolerate phony stories which are built out as authentic. Fact is . . . they can see right through them.