Brian was a student at the Helen Keller School of the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind. I met him and his family when my husband and I both worked at AIDB and had opportunities to work with him, his family and his teachers as they tackled the difficulties of trying to teach or learn about life without seeing or hearing.

Many times I pondered how one teaches such an individual about concepts that are difficult to grasp even with no disability. How can parents and teachers share emotions, morals, beliefs and intangible concepts, such as patriotism, charity and forgiveness to a child who cannot hear their explanations? Helen Keller eventually learned the connection between the sign for water made into her hand and the flowing liquid that quenched her thirst. Once she learned the "connection" between hand sign and the object, her learning increased dramatically. But how do you make the "connection" when the topics are intangible or emotional?

The concept of a loving God is one of those "connections" that must be made for an individual to have a fulfilled soul, regardless of their physical abilities. God uses many means to help people understand his goodness, creation and grace. God used Brian to teach me a lot about unconditional love.

Below is a portion from Chapter 6 of Helen Keller’s book "The Story of My Life" written in 1903 with her teacher Anne Sullivan. (I have taken this portion from www.wikiquote.org, as there are numerous edited versions of her story with modern authors as editors or coauthors.) This portion of her story relates to her difficulty in understanding the word "love." "I remember the morning that I first asked the meaning of the word, “love.” This was before I knew many words. I had found a few early violets in the garden and brought them to my teacher. She tried to kiss me: but at that time I did not like to have any one kiss me except my mother. Miss Sullivan put her arm gently round me and spelled into my hand, “I love Helen.”

“What is love?” I asked.

She drew me closer to her and said, “It is here,” pointing to my heart, whose beats I was conscious of for the first time. Her words puzzled me very much because I did not then understand anything unless I touched it.

I smelt the violets in her hand and asked, half in words, half in signs, a question which meant, “Is love the sweetness of flowers?”

“No,” said my teacher.

Again I thought. The warm sun was shining on us. “Is this not love?” I asked, pointing in the direction from which the heat came. “Is this not love?” It seemed to me that there could be nothing more beautiful than the sun, whose warmth makes all things grow. But Miss Sullivan shook her head, and I was greatly puzzled and disappointed. I thought it strange that my teacher could not show me love."

Brian is now 30 years old. His parents just sent me a wonderful update letter on how he is doing. I’ve pasted parts of it below. As you read this wonderful story, pray for Brian, his family and others who need special care, assistance and understanding.

"Today is Brian’s birthday! Thirty years ago he was born 2 ½ months early at Presbyterian Hospital in Charlotte, NC and weighed only 2 pounds & 13 ounces. He was not expected to live. We soon discovered that he was totally blind and profoundly (totally) deaf … and as young parents were fearful of what the future would hold for our first child. [We] turned to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for strength and guidance. In Philippians 4 Paul says "do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus". As you most likely already know, God hears and answers prayers! Although, sometimes we don’t get the answer we want, as evidenced in Brian’s case by the fact that he has now lived 10,959 days in total darkness and total silence.

Yet, tonight [we] took our son out to a nice restaurant for a great dinner, and had the most wonderful time with him! On weekends he loves to ride on our boat and feel the wind and water hitting him in the face. You ought to see and hear him laugh. Brian really enjoys riding on the back of my motorcycle (wearing all the appropriate safety gear) and will lean enough to the right or left for the wind to come into his helmet. About every 15 minutes, from his seat behind me he’ll pop me on my helmet … as if to make sure I’m still up there driving.

He loves the house he lives in … and the people he’s with every day. It’s wonderful to see how he has grown there.

God has watched over Brian from his moment of birth 30 years ago. The Lord has guided us through much prayer (our prayers and the prayers of so many friends, church members, pastors, and family). In fact, many of you reading this note we found as a result of prayer. Through God’s guidance, Brian has attended the best schools for deaf blindness in the world, and has been taught by the most incredible teachers. He has been blessed with people in church who loved him and helped him as he dealt with all the challenges of growing up in a dark and silent world. His physicians have been very understanding of his challenges and have often gone the extra mile to find a solution. And the organizations that have helped Brian with living independently (as he can) have loved him and cared for him as if he was their own.

It’s amazing how things have worked out over the years … how Brian has been challenged … and how God has provided solution after solution after solution! "