Hopefully, you never had to go through the terrible loss of losing a child. Unfortunately, this type of thing does happen, and it can be devastating. Stillborn children are particularly heartbreaking. Brad Kearns, 27, knows exactly what this feels like. However, as painful as the memory is of his stillborn son, Kearns doesn’t wish to forget it.
Kearn’s first son was stillborn. He named the baby Buddy, and the sight of Buddy’s tiny hands made a lasting impression on the young father. Kearns sadly realized he would never get a chance to teach those hands how to tie a shoe, throw a baseball, or give a firm handshake to a potential employer. Kearns wanted to remember those hands, so he decided to do something with them to make them last forever. Kearns had Buddy’s handprints tattooed onto his chest. He touchingly refers to this tattoo as an “eternal cuddle.” On September 1st, the Father’s Day of Australia, Kearns shared images of his tattoo with the world. The pictures show a shirtless Kearns with two tattooed handprints on his upper chest. They are exact replicas of Buddy’s hands, and they are exactly where the hands would be for cuddle time.
Kearns spoke about his tattoo as well. He told the world he was first inspired to get the tattoo when he saw his son for the first time. Buddy seemed like the right name, and the baby was peacefully sleeping. Even though his son was so young, Kearns realized his son was his little buddy. This brought about the name. Wanting to remember that peaceful sight of his sleeping son with those tiny hands, Kearns got the tattoo. It is an eternal reminder of his son.
The tattoo doesn’t just remind Kearns of his son, Buddy. It also reminds him how he is a dad. Even though Buddy is no longer here, Kearns knows that his role as a dad is forever. He related, “From that day forward I was a dad. The fact that we couldn’t take him home with us didn’t change a thing. The fact I would never teach him to kick a ball didn’t matter. We held his hands and we called him our own. He was the first little boy I ever made that promise to.” In other words, a dad is a dad is a dad. It doesn’t matter if your child dies as an infant or in old age. Once you see that beautiful child and hold him in your arms, something clicks, and you become a dad forever.
Keeping all of this in mind, the first Father’s Day Kearns experienced was a bit tough. He knew he was a dad, but his precious son Buddy was no longer with him. However, friends and family sent him text messages and cards to remind him of his special day. Despite losing his first child, Kearns knew he was a dad.
People around the world have been touched by the tattoo. Kearns is pleased his son is being remembered, but he doesn’t want to be viewed as a type of spokesman or hero. Rather, he hopes people will see images of his tattoo and feel motivated to help others who may have gone through the traumas of having a stillborn son or daughter. He says, “It’s all good and well that people are moved by my story but there are people out there donating their time to help others. They are the ones we should be directing the traffic to.” To honor this father’s wishes, consider volunteering at a pregnancy and infant loss support group near you.