We like to think we have control over the direction of our lives. We have a certain set of beliefs that we think will never change. Change is frightening sometimes. Many of our beliefs are often preconceived notions based on prejudices we learned at a very young age.
Heath White felt his life was perfect until his unborn daughter was going to be born less-than-perfect. Life took Heath into a dark place before he realized what was really important and what the true definition of “perfect” really was. Find out what drastically changed Heath’s perspective throughout the next 12 slides.
12. Heath Always Strived For Perfection
Heath White had always striven for perfection throughout his life. The pilot who became FBI agent wanted everything in his life to be without fault. White’s real test came when he found out his wife Jennifer was pregnant with their second child, Paisley. His reaction in slide #11 might surprise you.
11. Finding Out The Bad News About The Birth
Heath’s daughter was to be born with Down Syndrome, something far from what he might consider perfection. His wife Jennifer explains that the fact she would not be “perfect” had crushed him. He even insisted the couple go through with an abortion. Read a little more about Heath and Jennifer’s history in slide #10.
10. Daughter’s Condition Causes A Rift
Heath and Jennifer met in middle school and became instant soul mates. He proposed to Jennifer in front of his Air Force graduating class and the two began a long and healthy life together. The news of their new daughter Paisley’s birth caused a rift between them and their close relationship.
9. Their Relationship Takes A Dark Turn
The couple grew distant and they admit the news had brought their relationship into a very dark place. When she was born, he even felt alienated from his daughter. Perhaps it was because this was out of his control, but find out what changed their father-daughter bond in slide #8.
8. A Newfound Love
Heath was playing with baby Paisley one day, giving her raspberries and tickling her and it caused her to giggle and laugh. The sound resonated with Heath who had an epiphany. His daughter was just like any other kid and deserved the same love that every child deserves from his or her parents.
7. Telling Paisley Everything
The confusion led to Heath deciding to put all of his thoughts onto paper, or in this case a computer screen. He wanted to sit down and draft a cohesive statement about how his mind had completely changed about his daughter. The writing quickly turned into a detailed letter for Paisley.
6. More Than Just A Letter
Heath described, in extreme detail, just how wrong his feelings had been since he found out about the pregnancy and Paisley’s condition. He wanted to explain just how much she really meant to him and somehow describe the mistake he would have made if the couple had gone through with the abortion. But it didn’t stop at the letter, as you’ll see in slide #5.
5. The Two Begin To Train Together
Heath’s newfound change in perspective didn’t stop at the letter. Heath decided to get back into competitive shape by running again. He decided to take Paisley along on his runs. He would get his exercise while pushing Paisley in a carriage in front of him. The two could be together for long stretches of time.
4. The Duo’s First Marathon
Heath eventually began to sign up for marathons. Paisley was right there being pushed along throughout the entire 26.2 miles, looking back into the happy eyes of her loving father. Heath wanted to make sure everyone watching them knew about the unending love he had for his beloved daughter.
3. Achieving A Special Milestone
Paisley couldn’t get enough of the runs she went on with her dad. The two wound up on multiple 5K and 10K races by the time their story was shared on ESPN in 2013. When the two reached 321 miles together, Heath was especially proud. Find out why in slide #2.
2. Reaching The 321st Mile
Running 321 miles doesn’t mean a whole lot to many people. The number 21 is symbolic of Down Syndrome considering the condition manifests as a third copy of the 21st chromosome. Chances are, the father-daughter duo has run way more miles together since then. Read a small and touching excerpt from his letter on slide #1.
1. “You’re My Light In The Dark”
Heath ended his heartfelt letter to Paisley with, “Before you were born I only worried about how your disability reflected on me. Now there is no better mirror in the world. You’re my light in the dark, and it’s a privilege to be your dad. Love always, daddy.”
Not many people can really understand the transformation that took place for Heath. He is the only person that can truly understand the overwhelming sense of love he felt the day he realized he had been wrong.
The story of Heath and Paisley is a perfect reminder of the all-encompassing power of love and family. We are constantly reminded that we do not have control over everything in our lives. The real test is how we handle the unexpected curveballs that are thrown our way each day. The ability to turn those curveballs into home runs really define us as human beings.