I am thrilled to have as my guest this week Author Matt Patterson. Matt’s recent release My Emily has been the recipient of several awards. It’s the story about his sweet daughter, Emily, who was born with Down Syndrome. Two years later, she was diagnosed with Leukemia.
I haven’t yet had the chance to read this book, although I am really looking forward to it. It has earned high praise from reviewers and my grandma said it was touching and a definite “must read.” Matt is offering a copy of My Emily to one lucky winner. If the winner is from the U.S., they can choose between an ebook or paperbook version. If the winner is from outside the U.S., they will win an ebook copy. Details are at the conclusion of the post.
Here’s the blurb:
Emily wasn’t born perfect – so one might think.
She was born with Down Syndrome and many would jump to the conclusion that she would have very little hope for a life with any significance. Two years later came the diagnosis of leukemia. What little hope remaining turned to no hope whatsoever – or so one might think.
The life of this little girl, with all its perceived imperfections, had great meaning. Her loving nature and courage touched the hearts of everyone she met. She also taught them how to value their own lives – even with their many “imperfections.”
Note: A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this book will help families with special needs children, those who are battling pediatric cancers, as well as parents grieving the loss of a little one.
Matt agreed to stop by and share a bit about pouring out your heart in times of difficulty.
The Emotional Guts of a Man
Pouring Out Your Heart – Putting It on Paper
“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.”
― C.S. Lewis
I’m a guy.
An ordinary guy.
I’m just like any other guy – especially when it comes to grief.
Most men – not all – do not like to show any signs of vulnerability or weakness, particularly when it comes to our spouses, children, co-workers and those closest to us.
We need to be strong.
We need to be invincible.
In reality, what we really need to be is … real.
Sometimes I wish I hadn’t waited so long to take my own advice.
It was some five years after the passing of my daughter before I made the first real effort to release my grief and/or fear. This “release” finally came in the form of my weekly newspaper column. Emily’s birthday was just a few short days away and my heart was absolutely aching.
I could put it on paper. It could be quick, but it surely wasn’t easy or painless.
I sat at my out-of-date computer and spoke to my reflection on the screen while quickly pounding the keyboard with my fingers.
I poured out my heart. I shared the excitement of having our first child as well as the sudden heartbreak of being told our daughter was born with Down syndrome. There were moments of healing as I wrote of her smile and rocking her to sleep. Anguish would return to the screen as I shared her diagnosis and treatment of leukemia.
I didn’t tell my wife I was writing it. I told no one. One fellow writer and my editor were the first to experience my screams of sorrow from what felt like clenched teeth. My wife wouldn’t even know about the column until I brought home a copy of the paper that evening.
“You might want to read my column on page two,” I said. She was sitting in our blue recliner. I can remember as if it was yesterday. Not long after, we cried, smiled and hugged. It felt good to get it out. Mind you, there was still plenty of scar tissue remaining, but this was a first step.
Sometimes we have to stop before moving forward, although I didn’t think it would be another 15 years before I would sit down to pen My Emily.
The scriptures teach us to … “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)
How many times have we heard, “It’s not healthy to keep all that bottled up inside of you.”?
Well, they’re right. It’s not healthy.
It’s not easy to let it all out, either.
It takes time.
In just a matter of weeks, it will be 22 years since Emily’s passing. One reader shared in a review, “Too often men in crisis keep their emotions bottled up and coast on what seems like auto-pilot which can be incredibly difficult for women to process.”
That was me.
All bottled up.
Don’t bring up the past.
We’re moving forward.
I’m the leader.
Unfortunately, there were moments when the cork on the bottle would pop and emotions, mostly anger, would flow. Later came the feelings of guilt, sorrow and embarrassment for acting in such a way.
Guys, I ask that you “cast all your anxiety on Him.” Find a quiet, personal place daily and let God have it – your love, heartache, as well as your anger. He truly wants you to come to him. Let it out.
I also ask that you pray with your wives. Maybe it’s been years since you’ve done so. That’s ok. The best time to start is now. Be the husband and father your family needs, wants and desires.
Last, but not least, I ask that you go to the store and buy yourself a notebook. Here, you begin to pour out your heart – the bad and the good. Turn off the television for just a few minutes and take time every day to do this. It doesn’t have to be perfect. You’re not being graded. For now, it’s your story and no one else’s.
I urge wives to pray for their husbands. If you’ve both battled through loss, heartache and hardship – go up to him and take his hand. Look deep into his eyes and tell him you love him. Share with him your fears.
I’m not an expert. I would never claim to have all the answers.
What I do have is a story.
And so do you.
Put it on paper. One day, you may just want to share it and help others.
Matt Patterson is an award-winning writer, editor, communications professional and inspirational speaker. His first book – My Emily – has been selected as a finalist for the 2012 National Indie Excellence Book Awards, 2012 Next Generation Indie Book Awards and the 2012 Readers Favorite Book Awards. His background includes two-plus decades of experience include public and media relations, as well as print and broadcast journalism. He volunteers his time to helping organizations and charities dedicated to assisting families with children who have special needs or those battling pediatric cancers. He resides in Arizona.
Wow! Powerful stuff!
And now, here’s all you have to do for a chance to win: leave an encouraging comment for Matt, and yes, anyone can enter and subscribers to this blog always receive an additional entry, but if you stop by and “like” Matt’s Facebook Page you’ll receive two entries. Giveaway ends August 9, 2012. A winner will be chosen at random.