Every child deserves the opportunity to play, learn, and grow in a safe and supportive environment, as these elements are essential to the child’s development and well-being.
But a little girl named Elena had those opportunities for a quite short period of time. At the age of just 6 years old, Elena and her family were informed that she had a rare form of a deadly brain disease. The heartbreaking news came as a shock to the whole family.
Elena’s father, Keith, said that the family would not let her diagnosis hinder the small amount of time she had left to live.
“We wanted to protect her, so we never told her she might not make it,” he explains. “We didn’t want to focus on the disease, we wanted to focus on being a family and doing all the things that Elena wanted to do.”
With a brave heart, and her innocently beautiful spirit, Elena battled diffuse intrinsic pontine gliomas (DIPG) for nine months before the disease took her little life.
But while Elena’s family was busy giving her the best life they could in the days leading up to her death, she was busy with a different project that her family knew nothing about.
At just six years old, Elena had the heart and understanding to leave her family something they’d desperately need later on.
She spent several months writing notes to her mom, dad, and little sister, Grace, then hiding them all over her family’s home. Some had messages and some were drawings, but all of them were pieces of Elena.
Elena’s mother, Brooke, explains that each handwritten letter from her small little daughter was an incredible source of comfort after she passed.
“I think the notes were her way of telling us that everything would be OK. It feels like a hug from her every time we find one.”
The notes were tucked away in every place you can imagine—the closet, in between dishes, behind pillows, and in other random places around the family’s house. They wouldn’t find notes every day, but each time a note was found, it was a beautiful moment.
Two years after Elena’s death, the family decided to compile all of the notes they’d found and create a book called Notes Left Behind.
The book tells the story of Brooke and Keith as they struggled to balance their emotions while fighting Elena’s disease at all costs while also accepting the reality of what was to come for their little angel.
It’s a journal of their lives through the journey of losing their 6-year-old daughter, while serving as a true testament to the joy and love that Elena brought to the world throughout her short little life.
Watch as Elena’s parents tell the heartbreaking story of the hidden treasures their daughter left behind.