A Statement of Selfless Love: Charlie Gard’s Parents

| July 26, 2017

With the unfortunate news of Connie Yates and Chris Gard choosing to end their legal battles for the life of their son, Charlie Gard, because of his now especially deteriorated condition, came the beautiful witness of love captured in his mother’s statement to the High Court. A kind of love that provides us hope for the future in the lasting impact of Charlie’s life.

The statement is in many ways heart-wrenching, as it illustrates the raw truth of all that Connie and her husband have had to experience in the past year. But written between the lines of a mother’s harrowing account is the undeniable witness to two parents’ selfless love for their child. Though this may seem obvious, given the love that any parent would have for his or her child, the statement is a particularly powerful response because of the many critics that Connie and Chris have encountered. Even with the news of their decision, some individuals voiced their opinions on social media that it was “about time” and that the battle for Charlie’s life was a “selfish” one, only meant to be a long-term coping for his parents.

Yet, after reading Connie’s words, it is very clear that their legal battles were anything but self-serving. Firstly, because treatment early in Charlie’s life was promising in the opinion of many experts, and his parents were willing to do anything to save him. But secondly, because even in the great sorrow of a painful decision, Connie has the strength to hope that Charlie’s life will help children in the future who need treatment for such conditions as he suffered. In an age where we may tend to think many people are “selfish,” Connie is a witness to absolute selflessness, by embracing the worldwide impact that Charlie has had and hoping that his life can continue to help others despite the pain of a loss that will never change for them.

Perhaps part of the harsh criticisms that Connie and Chris have undergone is due to a shift in how our culture views the family. To some, the dedication that Connie and Chris have shown their son may seem ridiculous and unthinkable. This may be because some wrongly see the worth of Charlie’s life diminished because of his genetic condition.

But, consider also the trends in our culture in which children do serve a parent’s selfish motives. An example of such an unfortunate and toxic view is the prevalence of divorce and the role of children in some cases of divorce where they become seeming “possessions” fought for and traded off between parents, sometimes to spite the other parent. With such a narrative of the family being a reality, it makes sense for others to throw blame at Charlie Gard’s parents and call them “selfish,” because this can too often be the case in other situations.

However, in this case, Connie and Chris only show a true example of selfless love and the lengths that a parent is willing to go for his or her child. They put Charlie’s life before their own lives and suffered a worldwide spotlight in the hopes that they could save their son. Their battle is an example of the true function and role of the family in the world.

Perhaps the most touching part of Connie’s statement is the very last words, where she calls Charlie their “hero.” In these words, we see everything that makes the family a beautiful cohort. One may think that Charlie’s parents are the true heroes—and many like myself surely do. But Charlie’s parents see Charlie as their hero, showing us all that a hero is not someone who can do the most, but someone who loves.

The family itself is a heroic structure because it is based on love and fosters love. Let’s hope that in the future we can recognize this heroic love in the family and defend it for all.

 

You can read the full text of Connie Yate’s statement on The Telegraph

 

Photo by Liane Metzler on Unsplash