Emmerson Dean was only 18 months old when a near drowning accident left her with severe brain damage and dependent on her family, but they considered her a blessing.
Even onto her sudden death on Jan. 17, Emmerson, who had turned 10 years old on Dec. 24, remains an inspiration because family, friends and teachers were cherishing and embracing her in their lives.
For her mother, Barbara-Louise Bosworth Dean of Luling, deeper realizations came with reconciling her daughter’s change from being a spunky youngster with her mother and grandmother’s spicy temper to a child who could not walk or talk since her June 28, 2010 accident. Born on Christmas Eve of 2008, she was the joy of the Dean family, and particularly so as an only girl with three brothers.
“We realized (after the accident) she would never get married or have children,” Dean said. “She was always going to be with me.”
Their mother-daughter relationship changed, but she said she’d worked through it and came to grips with the situation with hope.
“She was supposed to be a vegetable and not do anything, but she was able to move her extremities and was able to do switch work at school,” Dean said. “She was in special needs and in a special education class, and St. Charles Parish schools had been amazing working with her and doing things with her.”
Despite Emmerson’s physical disability, she still recognized her family.
“She knew who I was,” Dean said. “We’d sing songs together. She loved Frozen. We treated her like normal.”
She adored her older brother, too.
Dean’s parents helped care for her and they appreciated every day they had with her.
Emmerson’s grandfather brought her to school every day.
“He loved rocking her, which got him out of his chores,” she mused. “That was his baby girl, too. Emmerson had a special place in her father and grandfather’s heart.”
“She would laugh and smile,” she said. “She enjoyed music and she was a big flirt. She would just crack up every time he came.”
There were also the Friday visits to the chiropractor where his arrival would have her grinning.
At Lakewood Elementary School, her love to be on a swing led to the addition of a special needs swing there.
Just the day before her daughter’s death, Dean said they had discussed with a Lakewood Elementary teacher all the things they planned for her, including a new head rest to get her face facing forward. They were contemplating the purchase of a machine so she could communicate.
“We were making a big nice jump forward with some big things,” Dean said.
On Jan. 17, Dean went to Emmerson’s bed as usual to get her dressed for school and was stunned when she found her daughter.
“She wasn’t breathing so I started CPR,” she said.
But Emmerson could not be revived.
‘I always knew she may get taken from us sooner,” Dean said. “I just wasn’t ready for this. I know God has a bigger picture that we can’t see and I know he has a reason. I know she’s healthy and dancing and singing.”
An autopsy revealed she had a heart condition called QT Long Syndrome. It’s hereditary and doctors have advised testing her three brothers for the condition, as well.
For Dean, her passing is unbearable, having lost her at 18 months old and again at 10 years old. But her service held Saturday revealed something she had not anticipated.
“We were truly touched and amazed by the number of people my daughter truly touched,” Dean said. “She actually changed some people’s lives.”
Father Stephen Dardis, pastor at Holy Family Catholic Church in Luling, said the service was “beautiful, very sad, but a lot of hope, too.”
Emmerson’s life shined in simple things, Dardis said. It was hope and consolation to the parents in knowing she had affected so many people. He said she had “greater gifts” that drew a steady line of people at visitation for two hours.
“We love and miss her … and she is her daddy’s hero.” – Britton Dean
“Some 10-year-old girls are worried about Facebook friends, but everyone who dealt with her was changed,” he said. “It was the depth of her life. She had so little and did so much.”
Her gifts also continue to inspire as an organ donor.
Dean said Emmerson is helping three to four families, “blessed with her gifts, which is a blessing in itself.”
Also, their love for Emmerson brought them closer as parents.
“I am so blessed and so lucky that my husband and I have gotten closer,” she said. “We really are very lucky.”
Emmerson’s father, Britton, added, “We love and miss her … and she is her daddy’s hero.”