Jeremy Statton

Living Better Stories

The McHugh Family

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There are stories we would never choose for ourselves, but sometimes these turn out to be the best stories of all.

Let me introduce you to Hadley McHugh and her family.

When I published the post 3 Ingredients to Creating Remarkable Experiences, it found it’s way into a high school classroom. At the end of the article, I asked readers to tell me about their own personal remarkable experience.

One person took me up on the offer, a 16 year old named Holden McHugh, Hadley’s big brother.

When I asked this question, I never imagined his answer. I did not anticipate meeting Holden and his family, and that their  story would impact mine deeply.

When I asked this question, I had no idea that someone would answer by saying “the day my sister died.”

This is a story about pain, perspective, physical difficulty, suffering, unconditional love, and a family that learned what it means to trust God.

Listen to the McHugh’s tell the story in their own words.

If you are having trouble viewing the video click here.

I have had the chance to email Holden and his dad, Aaron, since then. Wanting to know more about his story, I asked Holden some questions.

JS:  When did you realize that your sister was different?

Holden:  I always knew that Hadley was different; specifically though I remember once, sometime around the age of five, I had just watched Hadley have a seizure and I told my mom that I wish I could have had the seizure instead. This stands out because that is one of the first conscious thoughts I remember having where I realized there was a difference between us.

JS: In the video you express your opinion that Hadley was a special gift to you and your family, could you give some specific examples of how your life would be worse off not having had her as a part of it?

Holden:  Hadley possessed an other-worldly quality so that makes it pretty hard to pin-point why she changed our lives for the better. She has always been my best friend, we had a connection different than everybody else. In short, Hadley has changed my life for the better because life with her has given me perspective and empathy.

JS:  Did you ever ask God “why” and how did you answer that question?

Holden: I can’t say I understand why, but I believe that God asked Hadley to take on the duty of her life so that other people’s lives could be changed by the power of her story.

JS: How would you encourage anyone who has a special needs kid in their own family?

Holden:  The best advice I can give to a family with a special needs child is that as long as you love them unconditionally God will fill in the rest.

JS:  What is the first thing you want to say to Hadley when you see her in heaven?

Holden:  I will ask her to dance with me.

If you want to learn more about their story, check out their website mchughstory.com.

There is so much to learn from this family. From Holden’s responses, here are a few questions to consider regarding your own story.

  • How does your story give you perspective?
  • Have you learned empathy?
  • Have you taken on anything hard for the good of others?
  • Do you love unconditionally?
  • When was the last time you danced with someone?

Tell me about your story in the comments.

About Jeremy Statton

Jeremy is a writer and an orthopedic surgeon. When not ridding the world of pain, he helps you live a better story. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook or Google +.

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9 Replies

  1. Wow. Just wow. Thank you Holden, and the rest of the Mchugh family for sharing their story.

  2. Amanda Statton

    Thanks to Jeremy for introducing me to their story about a month ago.  For me, I will always remember riding my stationary bike and watching this video the morning after I learned about a special needs girl in China who needed a mom and a dad.  I didn’t think we could be that for her, but then God started bombarding me with pictures of how my job was just to love unconditionally and His was to fill in the rest.  I love their use of the word “Epic” and “Otherworldly”.  When Jesus’s disciples ask him who sinned to make the man blind who was blind from birth, he answers, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him”.  This reminds me of Hadley’s story too.  God’s work has been displayed in the lives she touched, even mine and a little girl in China who awaits for us to come get her and be her mom and dad. Very Epic if you ask me!

  3. Agreed. Thank you for sharing and thanking for living it.

  4. This story does help with perspective.

  5. Anonymous

    Amanda and Jeremy
    I woke up this morning with a case of Small-Story-itis. Getting coffee I have been coaching myself through the belief that there is more going on than just work and coffee.
    I opened your email and my symptoms started to vanish. I am deeply moved that our stories are now inner woven together. Each necessary for the other to have the courage to keep taking another step. Much more to say, but will leave it for in person some day.
    Thank you for the rescue today.
    Aaron McHugh

  6. The great thing about Small-Story-itis is that there can be a cure. ; )

  7. williamsjohnb

    Are you the family that lost a son in 1988 in a bicycle accident along a bicycle trail between Elmhurst and Aurora Illinois?

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