By Sharlee B
When our son Emmett was born with a rare brain condition called Lissencephaly, we had no idea what our future would look like. I had never considered the possibility that I might have a child with disabilities. I didn’t know what that meant. I was afraid. My husband reassured me it would be all right and that we would just take it one day at a time. We held each other and cried and we prayed. We prayed for peace and comfort, and over time, we began to feel almost a sense of excitement and privilege to parent this special child. Over time we began to understand who he was and what his purpose was here.
That was nearly fifteen years ago. Emmett still cannot talk. He cannot walk. He can’t crawl, roll over, play, or eat by himself. We still take it one day at a time because it is still emotionally and physically draining. We do not have a normal family life because of the demands of having a child with disabilities. We sacrifice our time, sleep, backs, and energy to care for him with never a day or night off. But, as with any kind of sacrifice, there are rewards. Emmett is a blessing to our family. Because he can’t communicate we have to anticipate his needs and desires. This has taught our other three sons patience and understanding in dealing with people’s feelings. He has taught us about pure love. He has a smile that would melt your heart and he gives it freely to anyone and everyone. We are not perfect at knowing what he wants and sometimes we make mistakes but he readily forgives us. He can’t hold a grudge. Can you imagine if you didn’t have the ability to be angry or jealous or ashamed? He is such a pure spirit. We, and anyone who knows him, can’t help but feel it when they are near him.
A few months ago at school, Emmett was going outside with two of his buddies to play basketball. Each thought the other was holding Emmett’s chair and before they knew it he rolled over the curb, tipping and landing squarely on his face on the asphalt. He broke his nose and knocked a couple of teeth loose in the process. We were called to the school and rushed him to the hospital to get checked out.
On the way there we got him to smile which was quite a sight with his injuries. We knew that he had already forgiven his friends, and because he isn’t capable of holding a grudge, how could we? Once we knew he was okay, our focus shifted to those two poor boys. We knew they felt terrible about what happened and we reached out to make sure they knew we loved and appreciated them for taking care of Emmett and for being such good friends. We let them know that accidents happen and we didn’t feel any ill will towards them. This was possible because Emmett has taught us over the years to have empathy.
Our family’s trajectory and perspective has been altered dramatically by our little guy. We try to bear our trial with patience because God gave us this calling and He gave it to us for a reason. We draw our strength from Him to do all things. We know that He is aware of us and of Emmett’s needs and will not leave us comfortless. Because of what we know about God the Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ, we are able to work through this trial with patience and love. Best of all, we have hope because we know that even though in this life Emmett has limitations, he will be whole in the next life and we will be able to talk with him and he will be able to embrace us and tell us he loves us. We can see his love in his sparkly eyes and smiles and that is enough for now.