Everyone, meet Francis Wallace (pictured below). Francis read my article in The Washington Post back in April 2014 and found me through Google. It turns out he didn’t have to do much stalking as my name and pictures are very searchable. Haha. Yey, what every person wants– personal stories and hideous photos blasted all over the internet for years to come! ; )
Anyway, back to my story. Let’s flashback to not even 2 weeks ago when I received an email on my Linkedin page from Francis. His message wash short. “Hi Cristina. I read your story in The Washington Post. I am also a burn survivor. Can you give me a call, please?” You know me, whenever anyone writes me after knowing about my fire accident, I immediately write back. This time, I gave Francis a call. Upon completing the phone call, I learned a few things about Francis. Francis sounded like a gentle man who happens to live right outside of Washington, DC– very close to me. He read my article in the Post a few months back, lost the article and went on a frantic search to find me. He just felt like he needed to meet me. For anyone to want to meet me makes me feel special. Why me you ask, right? Well Francis has written a book called, A Will to Live and was in the final editing stages before production. He wanted to meet me because my story in the Post resonated with him and he felt that I had a story to tell and he wanted to hear it. Being the trusting person I am, I made an appointment to meet with Francis at a coffee shop in Washington, DC. Of course once I told my sister I was going to meet with a man alone whom I had never met before in D.C. during the the early morning hours, she freaked out. I however didn’t. Remember when I told you that Francis sounded like a gentle man over the phone? He also made sure to tell me that he was married and has daughters. He then added me on Facebook so I knew he was a real human being with a life of his own and I gathered that he was a religious family man. He wasn’t a cookoo for coco puffs who wanted to use my hair as tooth floss and my skin as a door mat. Well at least that’s the vibe I got. So last week I met up with Francis. We both happened to arrive at the same time, park, and walk while talking to each other on the phone. As soon as I turned a corner to head to the entrance of the coffee shop, there he was– Francis Wallace. As soon as we saw each other, we gave one another a big hug.
Francis Wallace is a 75 year old black man who was burned on over 85% of his body at the age of 25 in a fire that stemmed from an outdoor BBQ Grill. Then there is me–a 30 year old, white female who was burned at the age of 10 on less than 5% of my body in an accident that stemmed from a garage fire. Francis and I connected over a sweet tea and cappuccino. We spoke for almost 2 hours. He told me that his book has been years in the making, but it wasn’t until 2 years ago when he really got serious about finishing his book. The stories that Francis told me about his life not just about the fire, are INCREDIBLE. Real, raw and they made me yearn to want to know more about his life. I shared some of my stories to Francis and he said to me, “Cristina, you have a story to tell. There is a reason why we both survived. Let’s share our stories together.” Francis is right. I do have stories to tell and have written around 20 pages of a book that I began a few years back. I just keep putting it off. I was hoping that this blog would suffice, but Francis pushed me and said that I needed to finish my book.
Francis doesn’t know me well but he knew that we were meant to cross paths and work together. After meeting Francis though, it seemed as though we had known each other for years. How can two completely different people feel a connection? How could one person who is very religious and the other person who considers herself more spiritual than religious have a deeper connection? Francis and I share a significant experience in our lives that dictated the rest of our lives. Francis and I may seem like we are from two worlds apart, but we aren’t. We are both living, breathing humans that believe in a greater power that somehow allowed us to keep on going and live the best life we could live despite falling down several times throughout our lives.
Francis is my new friend and will be my friend for life. I cannot wait until Francis’ book comes out and I get to go hear him speak and do book signings. I wish a ton of success for him and I know he wants the same for me. Francis and I decided last week that we are going to both begin speaking at events while he promotes his book and I finish my book. Francis and I have an unlikely friendship, but underneath it all, we are the same. I cannot wait to share more stories. I’ll get Francis to do a video blog with me on my Youtube Channel and we will continue working together and pushing together to be the best people we can be, because after all, we made it out of those fire accidents alive. We are so damn lucky to be alive.