|Emmy dancing with her father Mark|
Carolyn could hardly contain her excitement when she found out that she was going to have a little girl. She was already the mother of two sons, but to add a daughter to the mix would make her family just about perfect, complete.
I'll never forget this particular baby shower. The mother- to- be wanted everything to be just right, perfect. And it was. Beautiful handmade ceramic teddy bears graced each table as centerpieces and a teddy bear cake held a place of honor among the other desserts with blocks of confection framing each letter of her name, Emmylou. No little girl would ever be more welcomed than this one.
I remember visiting the hospital not too many hours after she was born. I was anxious to get a peek at this little one who had been anticipated with such longing. She was only hours old and I noticed nothing unusual, only that she looked like a member of the family with her light complexion and reddish blond hair. But it wasn't terribly long before Carolyn and her husband Mark received the news that there was something not quite right with their new little Emmylou. In fact, they would soon be confronted with the reality of raising a child with multiple needs who would require constant care, probably for the rest of her life.
Over the next few years this little girl would spend thousands of hours in hospitals, most specializing specifically in pediatric care for severely ill children. For a period of time she was experiencing hundreds of seizures a day and Carolyn and Mark would spend days, sometimes weeks, staying at Ronald McDonald Houses and other such facilities, trying to find some kind of help or relief for their little girl. Oftentimes on her own, Carolyn would simply bed down in Emmy's hospital room for several days on end, keeping protective watch over the child that she had longed for and fiercely loves.
Several weeks ago we received an invitation to attend a special event in Emmy's honor on her fourth birthday. It was entitled Emmylou has met her Prince, a gathering to celebrate "Emmy's walk down the aisle with her Prince Charming." So on that Sunday afternoon in early June we drove to the little church where it was to be held. As we entered the building it struck me that in the same way Carolyn had fussed over every detail in anticipation of her new daughter four years earlier, she had done the same in this place, in another church hall. But rather than teddy bears, this time the adornments were of those things that a little princess would desire such as butterflies and tea cups and glass slippers. Yes, now all that was needed was a prince.
Emmylou was dressed in a beautiful blue princess gown with exquisite slippers to match. All eyes were on her as her God-ordained parents and two brothers stood before all those in attendance and spoke of their love and even more importantly, their never-ending commitment to her. And then as the music began once again, her father picked her up in his arms, and holding her close, danced with her for several moments, eventually passing her on to her mother who danced with her until the music stopped. The room was quiet, no doubt moved at the intimacy of that moment, just as I was.
|Emmy dancing with her mother|
This was a celebration of a little girl who has lived four very hard years, but in the process has touched the lives of those around her. I saw it in the tenderness on her brothers' faces and in the arms of her mother and father. And as difficult as it has been and will continue to be, she has completed this family. She has in deed found her prince. He resides in the heart of each of them.