Category Archives: Emmaisms

Emmaisms: Why Do You Always Want Me To Wear Dresses?

Sometimes there is a disconnect between the expectations of a parent and those of the child.  I know, what a surprise, right?  Well, when we first adopted Emma, in fact when we were still going through the adoption process, Marie was so darned excited to have a girl coming in to the family that she got a few dresses for Emma to wear.

To say Emma was more than a little uncomfortable in a dress would be an understatement.  Emma was always hyper-conscious that her legs were different in both looks and functionality.  Emma was always concerned her feet didn’t “work” in fancy shoes.  Emma was not, shall we say, proper.

mental illness blog

Emma approximately 7 years old

“Why do you always want me to wear dresses?” Emma would asked so exasperated.

As a father/husband, I watched with great joy those early “battles of will” as to whether or not Emma would wear a dress.  In the fifteen years we were blessed with this child I believe I only saw her in a dress 10-12 times, max.  School dances, Easter, those kind of things.  Dresses just weren’t her thing.

Anyways, needless to say, as in most cases, the child eventually wins. And frankly, it didn’t really take all that long for Emma to wear Marie down on the subject.  Parents, you know what I’m talking about.

Emmaisms: Marry a Rich Man, Raise Dogs

When Emma Lengquist was younger she had a consistent dream: Marry a rich man who owned a lot of land and raise dogs.  As she would describe her future life she would get so passionate about all the details; lots of land, a training place for the dogs, what kind of dogs, dozens of dogs, rescue dogs, happy dogs, sad dogs, etc.

“I’m a great dog trainer.”  She taught our dogs to sit, spin, lay down, shake hands, etc.  Her whole life’s plan had dogs involved.

PLEASE NOTE THAT HER DREAM NEVER HAD ANY DETAILS ABOUT THE RICH MAN!!! He only needed to provide her with enough so that she could have enough space for all the dogs she needed.  <<SMILE>>

olathe puppyparade

Not the greatest pic…her and her dogs; Spot, Princess and Bolt.

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Come celebrate Emma’s life at the inaugural Emma Lengquist Memorial Puppy Parade.  Here is what you need to know….

Direct Link to Registration and Donation Page
Details about the Puppy Parade

Please plan on costumes or floats for you and/or the dogs. Emma loved dressing our dogs up and will smile from ear to ear when she see all these dogs in full regalia.

This is gonna be fun.  Register TODAY.

Inclusion Connections Puppy Parade

Emmaisms: I NEED A BAND-AID!

You know how kids will associate a Band-Aid with pain relief? I mean, really, by the time you get to the Band-Aid portion of the healing process the pain has already begun to subside, right?


Well, our first visit to the pediatrician there in Jenks, OK was quite an adventure.  During the course of the visit we knew we’d have to get a shot for her and we knew she was extra sensitive to pain.  Now, this extra sensitivity wasn’t just a “head” thing.  It was real, as we learned over the years.

Anyway, when it became time to give her the shot it took three adults to hold down this 5 year old girl who was nothing but pure muscle.  I mean, she didn’t have an ounce of body fat on her.  As soon as the shot went in she let out a shout “I NEED A BAND-AID!!”  And repeated that about four times.

It was funny…and heartbreaking all at the same time.  She really did feel things differently.  It is one of the reasons she was so very fond of anything tactile to comfort her; Beasley, her stuffed dog or a koosh ball or a simple piece of velvet.

Emma’s body tormented her and played tricks on her during the entire span of her life.  We find smiles in some of the memories.  I’m sorry, yelling “I need a Band-Aid!” loud enough for the entire building was so funny.  And, as it was with so many other things with Emma, it carried a bit of a darker connotation with it.

Emmaisms: Overcoming Her Fear of Water

Our best friends have a swimming pool. Emma used to love to go over and play in the water.  She wasn’t much of a swimmer and yet you couldn’t get her out of the water.  I suppose it is because of the freedom of movement she’d gain.  Anyhow, I thought you might like this story of when we decided she should take swimming lessons at 5 years old.  Let’s just say, well, it didn’t go well.

emmaisms: How Emma Learned to Swim


When she was five I took her to swimming lessons.   Emma had arrived with much trepidation.  “New” was not Emma’s strong suit.  She was convinced she could not swim and was, how should I say, extremely vocal about this.  After about 10 minutes of lessons I approached the swim instructor in this somewhat crowded pool and suggested this may not work.  The instructor told me this was not uncommon and that she would handle it.

The entire time the poor, determined and soon to be haggard swim instructor was listening to Emma scream as loudly as possible…for nearly a solid hour with all to hear…”Why are you trying to drown me?” Over and over again. 

At the end of the hour the instructor met me, returned my check and said now may not be the best time to teach her to swim. 

Emmaisms: Who Emma Was To Me

Two months ago today my world changed with a phone call.  Rather than dwell today about my loss I thought I would choose to tell you who Emma was to me.  Seems like a better use of energy.

The Emma Lengquist Memorial Puppy Parade

glitches and smiles

Brandon, Marie, Jake, Piper and Emma Disney World’s Animal Kingdom

Emma Lengquist, like all of us, had many sides to her.  She was a complicated young woman.  And like all of us she changed as she grew.  And isn’t that exciting? I mean, really.  As a parent, what greater joy is there than to watch your children grow? Nothing, I suppose.

Emma was pure energy.  Her smile would light up my world.  Her laughter would make this often too-busy-to-take-notice heart stop a beat.  Emma would walk up to any stranger and just start talking.  She’d want to know you. Everything about you.  Boundaries?  What boundaries?  She was an open book and expected the same.

She was creative in her thought…which sometimes was very much the opposite of good.  And she LOVED dogs.  Any dog.  Especially hurt and disabled dogs.  She would lay in the floor and our dogs would lay on top of her.  When she cried Bolt, our Siberian husky, would come and lick her tears.  How that is therapy I’ll never quite understand and yet when Bolt was done she would be calm and she would just embrace him.

She loved dancing.  At the inaugural Night to Remember special needs prom we had a “Teach me how to dougie” contest…oh, how she loved that song.  She claims she won.  I know better.

Basketball was another love.  The first day we brought her home we didn’t even have a hoop.  She found a basketball and stood outside for HOURS and dribbled and dribbled and dribbled.  The next time she came over to visit us, during the pre-adoption phase, I had gone out and got a proper basketball hoop for her and Brandon. They both loved it.

I need to be careful here because I can go on and on and on about the things I loved about her.  Her spirit.  Her determination.  Her passion.

Thank you to all who read my journey through healing and setting my path forward.  Thank you to all who reach out to share your stories and ask that I keep bringing mental health to the battlefield of public policy.  Thank you for all who have supported Inclusion Connections and PawsAbilities and who plan on supporting the Emma Lengquist Memorial Puppy Parade.

Simply, thank you.

And thank you to God for giving Emma to Marie and I if even for only fifteen years.  I can’t wait to see her again.  I miss my buddy.  That is my selfishness of which I freely admit.  She is whole now. She is well now. And she is with her real Father.  In many ways, I’m envious.  My work here is not done. He will let me know when it is. Until then, I will enjoy her memories and the lessons she taught me. I’ll enjoy the man I’ve become and continue to evolve into because of the doors she forced me to open; a better husband, a better father, a better friend and a better employee, leader, worker.  A better human being.

Emmaisms: Through the Eyes of a Friend

Back on March 16, 2018 I received a message from someone that knew Emma through Inclusion Connections. I can tell you that one of my greatest joys in life is the blessing of being able to see any of my children through the eyes of another.

people with disabilities

From Aleks Kostic…

Emma Lengquist people with disabilities“I was a volunteer/employee at Inclusion Connections. I had the pleasure of knowing Emma for the past 5 years, and I am so grateful and blessed to have been able to call her my friend. I’ve been hesitant to reach out because I did not want to bother you or your family as I can only imagine how hard this time has been for you all- and you are all in my thoughts and prayers. However, the past couple of weeks have been full of what I can only reasonably classify as signs from God to reach out and tell you how incredible of a friend Emma was to me and how much of an impact she had in my life and just share my own little “Emmaism” with you.

“I’ll think about and miss Emma everyday. Those aren’t merely empty words, but the powerful impact of her infectious smile, laugh, strength, and overwhelming compassion. Emma taught me what true compassion is-that it isn’t just sympathy or pity- above all, it’s understanding and acceptance. Emma worked so hard to truly understand people, to support them when they needed it, and, without knowing it, she touched their hearts forever. I’m lucky to have gotten the chance to know this firsthand.

“I’m in Chicago for school, so Emma and I had been keeping in touch via FaceTime, and in one of our last calls, she told me that I “brought a warm energy into a room.” Not only did that mean the world to me to hear, but it stuck with me because I truly wish that she would have seen that in herself.

“My favorite thing about hanging out with Emma, walking into Interpersonal Skills class at South or coming to IC was when I would walk in, Emma would already be walking towards me with her huge smile and arms wide open, yelling “Aleks!!!” from across the room. It always made my day because she had a way of making people feel so valued. It was just the depth of her kindness and love for others, and that is what I’ll always remember her for.”

Thank you for these memories and messages. I am grateful.

Emmaisms: Going To The Daddy Store

Shortly after The Day I Met Emma Marie spoke to Jodi, Emma’s foster mom, to see what Emma had thought.  There were several things she said that day.  The first was that Emma knew I would be a great dad.

glitches and smiles people with disabilities and mental health

Chris and Emma Lengquist approx 2009


Well, I’m bald.  It seems all the kind men in Emma’s life to that point, including Emma’s foster dad, were bald.  So I must be pretty good at this daddy thing, too.

And my favorite from Marie and Jodi’s conversation?
Jodi told us that for quite some time Emma had so badly wanted to be adopted that she kept asking that Jodi take her to “The Daddy Store.”

If that doesn’t make you smile and feel what young children in the foster care system think, well, you must be heartless.  Me?  My heart melted again. I’m so glad we sought adoption for her.