Wednesday, April 25, 2012

My Emily- A story that will change your life

I wanted to read this book for a while.  I was afraid because I knew it would be very sad.  I got a sudden boost of courage one night, when I was having trouble sleeping. 
I started reading and I could not stop.  I was up until after 2:00 AM, when I finally finished the book.  I think I cried from the first chapter on.  Again the next day, whenever I thought about Emily and her family, more tears.

However, there was much more in this book.  It was not all sadness.  There was a wealth of goodness. 

There was strength and hope.
There was pure joy. 

There was love and sweetness. 

Emily was a delightful little girl.  She was full of love and kisses.  She displayed courage and perseverance well beyond her years.   An angel who came to earth for a short time, but touched countless lives. 

Matt shared his joy and his pain with such clarity you could feel it in your soul.  He was able to deepen his personal relationship with God and that gave him strength.  However, in the end, Emily was the one that gave him hope. 

There are several lessons in this story.  The first will dispel the myth that “a child born with Down syndrome has little hope for a meaningful life.”  The second is the inspiration for gratitude- something we all need in our lives.  The third is the reminder that you can turn to God for refuge in your time of need.  You alone construct that relationship, connecting the way that works for you.

Interview with Matt Patterson

K- How long was it, after losing Emily, before you started to write this book?

Would you believe almost 20 years?  It all started with a newspaper column at a small daily in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula where I covered the courts and crime beat. My weekly column was my escape from the straight news that came with sitting in court or dealing with law enforcement officers, lawyers and judges. I tried to relay to readers that I was more than the guy who covered preliminary hearings and other proceedings.  I wanted them to know I was a regular guy – a husband, a dad and a fella who possessed a small sense of humor.
On the week of Emily’s birthday I decided to write a column sharing Emily’s story and her influence on me and the many others who crossed her path. The response to the column was very positive and I received a few notes thanking me.  One writer on the staff told me that I should write a book.  I told her I thought that would be a great idea. The timing never seemed right, but about two years ago I was moved to give it a shot. And as they say, “the rest is history.”

K- I guess God and Emily must have decided that the time was right.  Did you ever feel like Emily was guiding you, while you wrote?

Absolutely!  There were particular moments, I feel, that she guided me as to what to write and how to share it. There were moments, especially when dealing with some specifics of her care and after she had passed away, that she was the one sharing and I was just the guy typing the words.

K- I was touched by the story of the charcoal portraits that you purchased as gifts.  The way you spotted that artist, on that day, enforces my belief in fate.  Do you believe in fate?

That’s actually a very good question.  Many people bring up that story, as well as the one with the birthstone rings as moments when they were particularly touched. Now, to answer your question, I have to say yes – yes, I believe in fate. I do, however, have to add I’m not a real big believer in luck.  Do I believe in coincidence? Not really. 

In regard to Emily, I DO NOT believe I got dealt a bad hand. Was it bad luck? Quite the opposite! If anything, I was “lucky” to have her!  Was it a painful time?  You bet!  However, I feel we were blessed with Emily – no doubt whatsoever. Was it fate? I feel it was our destiny to be her parents. We are such better people for having gone through this.  I consider myself fortunate 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’s sharing this story in cancer or grief support groups, with a friend or individual from our church or with someone on-line, I feel I so very blessed to be able to perhaps help in some small way.

K- It was inspiring the way you had nothing but good to say about the medical professionals.  I think many people would want to point the finger at someone.  To find some comfort in having someone to blame.  Was that a conscious decision or did you pray about it?

Great question!  I feel, at times, we live in a time that it’s quick and easy to blame someone.  That’s just not me.  I don’t believe it was a conscious decision to not lay blame or point a finger, but I can say that by praying for those who were caring for Emily, it was a whole lot easier to be grateful, as opposed to blaming someone.  

Everyone who played a part in Emily’s care remain very special to us. They did everything they could for her AND for us. To walk out of that ICU room minutes after Emily passed away and see the physicians gathered in a small circle with their arms folded and their heads down in disappointment and sadness.  Then, to see those from the pediatric unit lined up to say their last good-byes to Emily? How can I point a finger when I all I wanted to do was hug and thank them?

K- Your book will help so many people get through their grief.  Do you plan to write any other books?

M – Yes, I do!  I’m very excited about my next project which will be a companion to My Emily.  I really can’t give all the details because I don’t have it all sorted out quite yet, but I can say it will be an effort to help others, for sure.  I’m excited about its possibilities.

K- Thank you so much for this interview.  Moreover, thank you for sharing Emily with the world.  

M – You’re so very welcome, Kathleen.  I have to say thank YOU for being so generous with your words and actions in trying to share my little book with others.  This journey in sharing Emily’s story has gone far beyond what I would’ve ever expected.  I have truly been humbled and blessed by so many wonderful people in wanting to help share Emily’s legacy.  It’s been amazing thus far and I feel I still have a lot of work to do – and that’s exciting!

 K- I wish you and your family the very best health, happiness, and love.

Purchase the book here
Visit Matt Patterson's website here
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