Last April, Ladies’ Home Journal published an inspirational, and sad, story about Dana Drouin, a 35-year-old mother of three who was battling cancer. Drouin worried that her young children would not remember her after her death, so she decided to create something tangible to leave behind, although she struggled during the last stages of her disease. Explained the article:
“[S]he’s been trying to write a journal to each child, along with a series of letters to be opened years from now at the birthdays, graduations, and weddings she’s not likely to see….It’s a beautiful ambition; so far, however, Dana has found it agonizing to fulfill.”
Reading Drouin’s story, Heidi Haller was so moved she tracked her down and traveled across the country to live with Drouin and take care of her.
“I couldn’t stop thinking about this woman I’d never met, and the next morning I tracked down her number,” Haller writes in February’s LHJ. “Divine intervention was clearly involved. All I knew was Dana’s name and the town in New Jersey where she lived, but she was listed. I picked up the phone to call, thinking she would probably find a polite way to hang up on me.”
Haller, a single mom living in California, moved in with Drouin and her children in New Jersey for a month last year, where she cooked, cleaned and cared for the family and helped support Drouin, who had recently separated from her husband and was dealing with the ravages of cancer and chemo on her body. Haller’s first-person account of her time with Drouin, who passed away in October, is sweet and compassionate. Definitely worth a read.
“As the editor of the story, Dana had been much in my thoughts long after the piece was put to bed,” Margot Gilman, LHJ‘s deputy editor told FishbowlNY about the decision to run Haller’s follow-up piece. “I did want to help, and spoke to our editor-in-chief Sally Lee about the possibility of mentioning Heidi’s act of generosity in her Editor’s Letter, with the hope that it would inspire our other very generous readers to similarly reach out to Dana. Sally agreed.”
“I called Heidi to interview her about the details, but she told me she was a writer and that she wanted to try to write her story herself,” Gilman continued. “In the meantime, Dana passed away. Heidi’s story came in, and it was a lovely and utterly moving piece of work and we decided to publish it in full.”
Read all of Haller’s story here.
Read more: Remember Me –Dana’s story from Ladies’ Home Journal April 2009