The grandmother of a young boy who was severely burned in a house fire in Davie County, North Carolina, is asking for people to stop staring at her grandson.
Six-year-old Wayne Nixon and his older brother, Marcus, were involved in a house fire in March. Unfortunately, Marcus did not survive. He was only seven-years-old.
Wayne now has to wear a clear mask over his face and a burn suit, with gloves, in order for his wounds to heal.
His grandmother, Wanda, says that everyday is a struggle. When they go out to eat or shopping, people stare, both adults and children.
Wanda says that she has even heard children refer to Wayne as “scary” and adults gawk when they see him.
“To me, he’s not scary. He’s this young man right here under his mask,” she said.
Wayne was released from the hospital in June and has made great strides in his recovery. He’s currently in intensive physical therapy where he’s learning how to walk again and improve his mobility.
But oftentimes, the mental recovery is more difficult than the physical one and Wanda’s plea to the world shows just how much that is true.
“He comes home and cries sometimes. We come home and cry sometimes,” she revealed.
“I wish people would think about the person that’s up under the mask and the way it makes them feel.”
It is unimaginable for her words not to touch the hearts of her listeners.
“He has a heart. He bleeds just like you. Stop staring,” she said.
Wanda says that rather than stare and whisper about Nixon and his appearance, she preferred they ask questions. Respectfully of course.
That way, a conversation can ensue followed by an understanding.
Not only are the staring and whispers about Nixon affecting him, but the loss of his brother has also made the mental recovery difficult for him and Wanda.
During an interview with Fox 8, Wanda flips through a photo album and comes across a photo of Marcus.
“He’s truly missed around here. It’s… it’s real hard,” she struggles to say.
The pain in her eyes and in her words are extremely raw. One begins to wonder what you could do to make someone’s day better or ways to make them feel better about themselves overall.
But there is hope for Wayne. There is always hope. And when he comes home, he is reminded of that. He has a group of friends in the neighborhood who see him for what he is. A kid.
Even the fire crew stepped in and helped Wayne and Wanda move into the apartment that they currently reside.
Some good has come from the bad. Wanda hopes that by telling their story, people will listen and empathize with Wayne. A little boy who lost his brother and his home.
“He’s my little warrior,” she says with a chuckle. “He’s determined. He keeps me going. I know that.”
If his situation doesn’t warrant empathy from us as human beings, we have already failed one another.
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