Saturday, November 24, 2007

A Little History of Emily

Some of you have asked to know a little about Emily’s past, so here goes… When Sonja was pregnant with our 4th child, we thought the most unique thing about Emily was going to be that she would be born at home with a midwife like her sister Abby had been. Little did we know how uniquely God was knitting her together.

"Down Syndrome" --- We knew very little about it but knew we had to begin learning when the midwife said, "You must be a special couple because God has chosen to bless you with a beautiful Down syndrome girl." She pointed out the low muscle tone, low-set ears, the single crease across the palm, and the absence of a neck as evidence. None of that mattered, however. Emily was a gift from God, and we already loved her.

"Tetralogy of Fallot" --- Our vocabulary was rapidly increasing. We had never heard this term until the cardiologist explained that this heart defect would require corrective surgery. At 5 months of age, Emily had surgery to correct the problem -- at least temporarily.

"Low Oxygen Levels" --- As a complication with the heart situation, Emily's lungs were not able to work hard enough to provide her with sufficient levels of oxygen. As a toddler, she spent a year connected either to a tank or machine 24-7.

"Leukemia" --- Our medical knowledge reluctantly began to stretch from the cardio and pulmonary worlds to the oncology field. I confess that I surrendered the task of remembering long lists of drugs, therapies, treatments, and follow-ups to Sonja. I tried to keep up with everything by writing it down, but it would often change. Thank the Lord for a wife whose attention to Emily's care got us through nearly three years of treatment.
Through it all, Emily taught us the value of finding joy and contentment in our circumstances. We watched how concerned she was for the challenges others faced. She was always ready to bless others with a cheerful greeting, an expression of concern for their hurt, or a simple gesture that said, "I want to make you laugh and enjoy life!"
For 15 months after chemo treatments were over, Emily experienced the longest stretch of health she had ever known. We praise God for these months and the laughter and joy we shared during them.

"Relapse #1" --- Our faith was tried as we began to relate to some of the anguish David expressed in the Psalms. Why would God allow such a sweet, innocent creation of His own to suffer like this, not just once but repeatedly? Didn't He know what He was allowing to happen to her and to us? I can't say that our questions were ever fully answered, and we don't really expect to understand until we see Jesus face to face.
What we do know is this. God used Emily and many others to teach us lessons about life and the character of God. We continue to learn the lessons He has for us each day.

"Kissing Stents" --- Somewhere along the way, we learned this cute-sounding little term, too. It would solve the problem with the growing thickness in Emily's arteries. The two stents were installed and since then have been repaired a few times.

"Relapse #2" --- This is where we are today after 5 months of being off treatment from Relapse #1. It's too recent to try to express all that we're thinking and feeling. But I don't think that it's a coincidence that we discovered this the day before Thanksgiving.

Yes, "Thanksgiving!" Had we written the script, sure, we would have written it much differently. Are we hurt and confused? Definitely! But we are without a doubt THANKFUL! We have had 13 years of a delightful adventure with someone who taught us more than the most eloquent speakers and profound authors of our time.

Thank you, Lord, for Emily! We are humbled that You chose to share this treasure with us, and we will thank You even in the midst of confusion and pain.

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