Lauren Huang is a patient of mine whose son was tragically diagnosed with a rare, genetic disorder in utero that would almost certainly mean he would die shortly after birth. My heart grieves deeply with my patients every time they receive disappointing and heartbreaking news like this.
Lauren’s husband and fellow doctor, Dr. Jeffrey Huang, delivered this heartfelt acceptance speech at the Divine Mercy Care Gala in 2018 as recipients of the Susan M. Torres award. He tells the story of his beloved son, Matthias, and the big impact his short life had on their entire family. The Huangs are a beautiful example to us all of what it looks like to suffer well and to cling to the truth of the Gospel even in life’s darkest moments.
Dr. Jeffrey Huang and Lauren Huang share their story after accepting the Susan M. Torres award at the Divine Mercy Care Gala in Herndon, Virginia on November 10, 2018.
My family has been on the receiving end of your efforts through the physicians and staff at Tepeyac OB/GYN. Never before in all of our healthcare interactions have we seen such a depth of compassion and empathy.
I don’t say this lightly since I am a family physician myself. Sitting with my wife in the Tepeyac office in conversations with the doctors at Tepeyac, I would often wonder to myself, “Am I ever this generous with my heart and my time with my own patients?”
The honest regrettable answer is…nope.
First off, I want to thank the doctors and staff at Tepeyac who cared so thoroughly and tenderly for my wife and son. You truly walked this difficult road with us, often carrying us.
Now, Lauren and I want to take this opportunity to talk about our son, Matthias Chambers Chi-En Huang. You have chosen to honor us this evening for bringing him into the world.
At first, we were reluctant to receive such an honor. To us, it still seems awkward and unnecessary to recognize parents for simply loving their own child. We never received such recognition for loving our other three children. Why should it be any different with Matthias?
But regardless of the rationale, we have decided to jump at this opportunity to talk about our son.
We think of all of the birthday parties and kindergarten and elementary school graduations we have had for our other three children. We look forward to the proms, and award ceremonies, and highschool and college graduations, and maybe weddings that these three may have in the future.
Then we think about how we won’t have any of those for Matthias.
So we figure, this might be it. This might be the only time we get to speak in front of a crowd of such good looking well dressed people and celebrate our son, and acknowledge his life, that he lived, if only for a little bit. But that little bit mattered a whole lot.
So welcome to Matthias’ birthday party and graduation and awards ceremony, and to his wedding banquet.
Lauren chose Matthias’s name because it means “Gift of God.”
I chose Chambers as his middle name because of how the early 20th century Scottish chaplain, Oswald Chambers, has challenged me spiritually through much of my Christian journey.
His Chinese name, “Chi-En” was chosen by my father, and it means to “eat grace.”
So Matthias truly was a Gift from God, whose life challenged us spiritually, and who caused us to truly need to eat of God’s grace.
There are so many wonderful and painful details of our nine month journey with Matthias. Too much for us to share in this short time, and certainly more than our hearts can bear to. But we would like to share the most important lesson that Matthias taught us, and perhaps the most important lesson that we have ever learned from anyone.
For nearly nine months, Lauren courageously carried Matthias in her womb. We would try to ignore the monthly sonographic diagnostic test results as much as we could. We tried to simply enjoy this life that was growing and moving within her, just as we had with our other children. We read to him the usual favorites, books about hippos with belly buttons and loving each other to the moon and back and saying goodnight to the moon. We sang lullabies of amazing grace to him. Matthias was warm and comfortable and safe. We truly believe, in the womb, he was happy.
We were a family of six. Until it was time.
Time for Lauren to have her first C-section.
Time to bring Matthias from the safety and warmth of the womb into the alien brightness of the world.
Time to cut an umbilical cord in a way that was far more than symbolic.
Time to beg God to allow him to breathe.
Time to listen hopelessly for that reassuring first cry of a newborn that never came.
Time to watch his color turn from a warm blush to a dusky grey.
Time to introduce him to his older brothers and sister.
Time to try to give everyone a chance to hold him and kiss him.
Time to watch his quivering movements slow to an awful stillness.
Time to say goodbye.
For 67 minutes, we were able to meet face-to-face. It was wonderful…and horrible.
Later, after his grandma and uncle and aunt had mercifully taken our three older ones home, we were able to be alone with Matthias. We looked at his broken body. Misshapen hands and feet. A much too thin chest which held a malformed heart and weak lungs. A beautiful face that hid a mind that was too weak to initiate even one small breath.
I stared at my son’s broken body and I became angry at God, if only for a moment.
I asked, “How can an all-loving God cause my child to be so broken?”
But scarcely before the question was fully formed, I knew the answer. I realized that Matthias only had to suffer a broken body for nine months, but now he is perfect and whole in Heaven for all eternity.
But Jesus was perfect and whole, yet chose to come down to earth and be broken and to suffer and carry the scars of Matthias’ brokenness for all eternity.
…But not only Matthias’. This loving God carries my brokenness for all eternity as well. This realization of the depth of God’s love is what Matthias has taught us. This is Matthias’ legacy.
-Dr. Jeffrey Huang
In memory of his son Matthias Chambers Chi-En Huang (11/20/17 – 11/20/17), cared for by the doctors at Tepeyac OB/GYN.
I wanted to share this with you because it is through these tragic but hope-filled stories that God gives us courage in our own suffering and reveals a bit of the mystery behind the purpose of suffering.