When you think of a typical 18-year-old, you probably think of someone who is just embarking on adulthood. Many American 18-year-olds are either just starting college or figuring out their lives, but few run their own households.
Nathan Phillips is no ordinary young man. At just 18, he was tasked with deciding if he would become his little brother’s legal guardian.
Nathan’s brother, Luke, was just 12 at the time, but by then the boys had lost both their parents.
Their mother had passed away the year prior at just 53 years old. Cancer had claimed her life, leaving the boys with just their father.
Luke was riding on the back of a motorcycle with his dad, David, when they were in a head-on collision with a truck. David died before they could get him to the hospital.
Luke’s foot had gotten caught under the truck’s tire, skinning his foot and destroying toes — he had to have his pinkie toe and half of his big toe removed.
While Luke was recovering in the hospital, Nathan didn’t tell him about their father.
“It was pretty hard seeing him like that,” Nathan told the Metro. “The hardest thing was to tell him what happened to dad. When he was in A&E I had to keep telling him Dad was OK.”
“We had to keep telling him dad was OK when he was first in hospital,” Nathan continued. “The doctors said if we’d told him straight away he’d have panicked and he wouldn’t have been able to go into surgery.”
“He lost a lot of the skin on his foot, he needed a skin graft from the top of his leg onto his foot.”
Though the pair has their struggles, they’re making it work. Nathan admits he’s had to sacrifice a lot, but he doesn’t blame anyone for their condition. Plus, kind friends set up a fundraiser for the boys, blessing them with more than £11,000 (over $14,000).
“I think it has taught me to make the most of every day,” he said, “don’t let little things upset you, and just enjoy the days as they come.”
“I don’t want to be upset or angry about losing mum and dad. I’ve got to focus on looking after Luke now. We respect each other a lot more I think. I have to do things like wake him up early for school but he’s alright about it.”
“He still gets his moments where he says ‘I miss mum and dad’ or ‘I wish dad was here,’ you know to give him a hug before bed. But we do stuff together to make sure things work out.”
“I used to spend more time with my mates. I’d be out in my car all the time or on my Xbox. I can still do those things now — but not so much. I’ve got the washing up, to do, the laundry, the shopping, making sure Luke’s uniform and my work stuff is sorted,” Nathan said.
“I sometimes feel as if I have been left to do everything by myself. It’s nobody’s fault, it’s just how the world is. It has just meant I’ve had to mature a bit quicker.”
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