Emily wasn’t born perfect – so one might think. She was born with Down Syndrome and many would jump to the conclusion that she would have very little hope for a life with any significance. Two years later came the diagnosis of leukemia. What little hope remaining turned to no hope whatsoever – or so one might think. This short story tells how the life of one little girl, with all its perceived imperfections, had great meaning. Her loving nature and courage touched the hearts of everyone she met. She also taught them how to value their own lives – even with their many “imperfections.” –From My Emily, by Matt Patterson.
Matt Patterson, the author of My Emily, is a writer who decided to finally share the story of his daughter with hopes to raise funds for those who are raising children with special needs and fighting cancer. My Emily is indeed a testament of a father’s love for his daughter. More importantly, it is a heartwarming memoir of how in just a short time here on this earth, a young daughter transformed the life of her father, and all those who came in contact with her.
In this month when FemmeFuel is contemplating the ideas of luck vs. faith, we interview Matt Patterson, who on the surface may seem “unlucky” when his daughter Emily is born with Down Syndrome, and later diagnosed with leukemia. However, as Matt shares, it was he who was blessed by God in the call to serve as Emily’s father.
Now that you have gone through this journey with Emily, do you find it harder or easier to discuss the big questions about God?
Today, I find it easier to discuss the big questions about God. I feel like my wife and I have traveled a path that has prepared us. I say it’s easier, but I think if you ask anyone who knows me or who has heard our story, they will tell you I can be quite emotional.
The “why” question is one, I believe, we all ask when we’re confronted with difficult times. Whether it be a serious illness, the loss of a loved one, or any other moment that seems to try our faith. We need to remember that it’s okay to ask God questions, but we also need to be mindful that God has never promised to answer them either. Knowing the “why” isn’t going to take the pain away. We have to learn to ask other questions other than “why”.
For us, it was initially the birth of Emily. We were in our early-to-mid 20s and we were so excited about the birth of our first child. The following morning we were given the news that Emily was born with Down Syndrome. It was like a punch in the stomach. Initially, I had no idea whatsoever what Down Syndrome was. I was truly clueless. Then, just two years later – a diagnosis of leukemia. If the first punch in the gut hurt, the second brought me to my knees. I’m of the belief that we’re very capable of finding God’s answers to our “why” questions. Now, His answers may not be the ones we want, but if we’re willing to listen closely, these answers will be of great comfort to us.
I’m not a real big believer in luck. Do I believe in coincidence? Not really. I do not believe I got dealt a bad hand! Quite the opposite! Was it a painful time? Yes, absolutely! I feel the Lord blessed us with Emily – no doubt whatsoever. It was our destiny to be her parents. We are such better people for having gone through this. I consider myself “lucky” to be able to share her story and perhaps touch a heart or two. It has given me such an opportunity to serve. Whether it be at cancer or grief support groups, or to an individual in our congregation or just a person in passing or even on-line, I feel I’m so very blessed to be able to perhaps help in some small way.
Stay tuned tomorrow for more of Matt Patterson‘s interview with FemmeFuel…