My Emily by Matt Patterson is a family’s story of a young daughter born with Down’s Syndrome who is then diagnosed with leukemia at the age of two.
After the joy of Emily’s birth, the Pattersons were shocked to learn that she had Down’s Syndrome. Once they had a chance to absorb that, though, they found it didn’t really change anything. Emily was a little behind other children in her development, but she was developing, and “she did possess two characteristics many Down’s children are blessed with – a never-ending smile and a heart so very full of love.”
But a late-night run to the ER for a fever when Emily was two, and a question about some dots on her leg, led to blood tests which revealed Emily had acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Matt relates what Emily and the family went through as she underwent a 100-day course of chemotherapy with its attendant side effects, went into remission, relapsed, and had a bone marrow transplant.
A major part of a journey like this is wrestling with God about why He allowed it, especially for a little child, and Matt shares some of that as well.
Perhaps He sent this little, unassuming angel to instruct me and many others about what’s truly important in life. I believe she taught us not to take one single day for granted, showing a greater appreciation for family, faith, and friends and all that we have been given and blessed with.
…Some would look at Emily’s life and think that a child born with Down’s syndrome has little hope for a meaningful life. Throw in the diagnosis of leukemia and that little hope turns into no hope whatsoever.
Emily’s life, with all its imperfections, had great meaning. Because of how many people she touched, I realize that we are far more than what we can accomplish. We are the very thumbprints of God.
Matt goes on to say:
Incidents in our lives – big or small – develop our character. The Bible says, “We know these troubles produce patience. And patience produces character.”
Our lives, as short as they may be, are a test. And one of the biggest tests we can endure is how we respond to those moments when we don’t feel the presence of God in our lives. I believe deeply that one of God’s greatest gifts is to teach us there is a purpose behind every single one of our trials and problems.
Treat them as a gift, an opportunity to to move forward and draw closer to God. Problems often times compel us to look to God and count on Him rather than ourselves.
This is a very short book at 98 pages and at the moment is available for free for the Kindle app. I was touched at many points in the book and the quote about every life with its imperfections having meaning and purpose and that we “are more than what we can accomplish” particularly spoke to me.
(This review will also be linked to Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books.)