In early 2015, Janet and Chris Griffin learned that the baby girl they would welcome into the world would require lots of extra support and care. Along with Down Syndrome, Emily Griffin also had some very significant heart defects. Heartbroken, Janet and Chris decided to trust God and made the brave decision to give Emily life. Last August, the community of Roosevelt Island got to meet and immediately fall in love with Emily. Her big blue eyes and strawberry blonde hair were beautiful to behold and she became as well known around Roosevelt Island as her big sister Scotlyn. But, as predicted, Emily’s little body struggled to catch up to her big personality. She desperately needed heart surgery, but had to get stronger to be able to make it through. In November, a few weeks prior to surgery, Emily caught a cold that turned into pneumonia and sent her to the hospital. Over the next 4 and half months, Emily fought to get healthy enough to survive the surgery. It seemed like every time she would be well enough for long enough, she would crash. The cycle went on until Mid-march when finally, she was cleared for surgery. Although the surgery was a success, the damage done to her little body over the course of the 8 months was too much, and on April 19, 2016, Chris and Janet said goodbye to their little girl.
This April, after 22 years since I left here in 1994, I have finally returned New York as a visiting scholar of the Institute for the Study of Human Rights/Columbia University.