I wish this story had a happy ending.
Bruno joined our family in 2012. He was one of the many changes that we made that year to help our daughter battle the breast cancer diagnosis that she received at just 28 years old. She asked for a puppy. If she had asked for 1,000 puppies we would have given them to her. But Bruno, all 10 ounces of him, was who she needed as her support buddy. It was unchartered territory for my daughter, her three sisters, my wife, and me.
By the time she was diagnosed the cancer had spread, too late for a surgical cure, too early to give up hope. For nearly three years we helped her fight. The best treatment centers, the best specialists, favors pulled in from any and every direction possible. Through it all she never stopped working, never stopped giving back.
A reformed business major, now a kindergarten teacher with a master’s degree in education, she spent her days making sure that the kids in her classroom and the kids in her school had food, clothing, and medical care. She worked in some of the poorest schools in the state but her kids didn’t lack for essentials. She brought a new spirit to teaching. It was as important that her kindergarteners learn about Mondrian, Monet, and Mozart as it was for them to learn about the months, the days, the seasons, and how to count to 100.
Her nights and weekends, after treatments, were usually spent on lesson plans and grant writing. It wasn’t enough that her kids had food and clothes and medicine. Her co-workers, all of whom spent personal money on classroom supplies not provided by the school, needed equipment and books and furnishings. And so, throughout her ordeal she won more than fifty grants for everything that she and her fellow teachers needed. All the while Bruno was by her side, a little furry ball of comfort.
In the end though, she lost her battle. Just a few weeks past her 31st birthday. Oh, we do our best to honor her. It’s been five and a half years and for the last five the charity that we started in her memory has provided tens of thousands of meals, medical care, and hope for thousands of kids around the country.
But now, in the early mornings, it’s usually just me and Bruno. Sometimes I ask him “Why?”. He doesn’t answer. And so we go on with life as best we can. She wouldn’t for a second let us allow our grief to paralyze us. Onward.
– Alan Leafman