We’re all guilty of it. We scroll through Facebook and see 12 kids trapped in a cave, someone who’s lost a loved one in an accident, another with a family member who has been diagnosed with cancer.
You stop and read the story. You feel bad and wonder what it’s like to be that family. Then you scroll on and read the latest meme or watch a funny video, and you forget about those who are lost and don’t know how to move on.
This story isn’t a bid for pity for Emma or my family. What I’m asking for is a change in today’s world; a change in the way we think. The world is what we make it. We have the power to make days better or worse for others. I choose to attempt to make lives better.
A man yelled at me from 30 feet away: ‘What the f**k? Make her walk’
Today, I’m going to do this by telling you a story. A story I have only shared with my wife and my daughter, Emma, who was with me. The same daughter who was told earlier today that she’ll soon start her seventh – yes, seventh – round of chemotherapy for a brain tumour.
She’s just six years old, by the way.
My daughter and I were the Union Oyster House in Boston, MA, after dinner the other night.
This dinner was donated to us by an amazing business and friend who has been in our ‘family’ for years. When I crossed the street carrying her – she can’t walk without the aid of her walker – a man yelled at me from 30 feet away: ‘What the f**k? Make her walk. That’s what’s wrong with kids today.’
I got inches from his face, with my daughter in my arms, and quietly asked if he was referring to my daughter
I had a choice. Should I make myself feel better by screaming at him, or could I teach him something about life? I won’t lie and tell you it was an easy decision, but I got inches from his face, with my daughter in my arms, and quietly asked if he was referring to my daughter.
‘Hell yes,’ he said.
I responded: ‘My daughter has been carrying my faith and my strength for the past five years since she was diagnosed with a brain tumour. She can’t walk, but I’m happy to carry her because of all the amazing things she has taught me through the years. So I would advise you not to address my daughter in any way other than respectful.’
His initial reaction was one of shock and remorse. He knew he’d screwed up but I wanted to make sure I got my point across. He shared a story about some relation of his – I think it was his grandmother – who was named Emma, and how he would be praying for my daughter.
This story is worthwhile if it reminds you not to judge others as you don’t always know the whole story
The story ends with two grown men, standing together with tears rolling down their faces. One needed to have his eyes opened to what real life and real love entails, and the other always needs a reminder that good can come from any situation.
This story is worthwhile if it reminds you not to judge others as you don’t always know the whole story.
You have the power to make people’s days better or worse. What did you do today? What will you do tomorrow?
I promise you, my Emma has made each and every day of my life a blessing. I praise God for bringing her into my life. Emma, you are perfect just as you are and we will help carry you through chemo #7.
EmmaStrong was started about five years ago to help raise funds for pediatric brain tumor research and support.
We hold an annual ‘Drive for a Cure’ golf tournament, as well as sell shirts and wristbands. Over the years we’ve raised almost $150,000, which has been used to help develop a new surgical tool used in brain surgery that determines tumour and brain matter.
We’ve also helped to bring a neuro-oncologist specialist to Nebraska as we didn’t have one previously, and we will also make a decent donation towards bringing a brain tumour clinic to a hospital in Omaha.
When Emma was initially diagnosed we were supported so generously by our community that we felt we needed to do something to help as well. EmmaStrong is our contribution.
Brent Gehring was talking to Paul Connolly