“Fear is a reaction. Courage is a decision” – Sir Winston Churchill
Thank goodness Churchill chose courage over fear. It was that decision which ultimately led Britain to victory during the Second World War. I cannot imagine the kind of world we would be living in if he hadn’t.
I can confidently reel off many more courageous beings who’ve had a positive impact on the world; Princess Diana, Ghandi, Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela. None of them however, have managed to create an impression on me like seven year old Henry Bromberg did. It is he that is the subject of Blogtober Challenge day 4.
“He who conquers himself is the mightiest warrior” – Confucius
I had the pleasure of being Henry’s nanny for a year, and what a year it was!
Henry was a tornado of mischevious energy from the moment I met him. If he wasn’t causing harmless chaos somewhere then he wasn’t satisfied. Despite his stereotypical young boy behaviour, Henry was not like any child I had previously cared for.
Henry was born with a rare heart defect called ‘Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome‘. This meant that the left side of his heart was severely underdeveloped. As a result, Henry was on a lot of medication and endured numerous hospital visits. None of this ever dampened his spirit. In fact, he would come back cheekier and ‘stronger’ than ever after each setback.
Henry Dog Warrior
Henry had many passions in life and he would often become obsessed with them. One such passion was dogs. Henry loved them and he had no fear. It didn’t matter if the fiercest looking dog was walking down the street, he had a sixth sense around them and could always get a cuddle.
One day Henry decided that he was to be addressed henceforth as “Henry Dog Warrior”. After a long day of ‘world domination’ there was nothing he liked more than climbing onto a lap for a snuggle and stroke of his hair.
His obsession with the film 101 Dalmations resulted in the most epic birthday party I have ever been to. He invited the whole school and encouraged everybody to dress as Dalmatians. I was asked to dress as “that imbecile” Cruella De Ville and it really did seem as if there were 101 little ‘pups’ running around the grounds. That’s the thing I loved about Henry – he never did things by half. If he did something he gave it 110%.
“People living deeply have no fear of death” – Anais Nin
Henry was more than a boy I worked with. In the years after my departure, I caught up with him several times and he would coach me on life and love. He was brutally honest and much wiser than his years. I genuinely loved our conversations and would always belly laugh right down to my core with him.
Henry was on the waiting list for a heart transplant but gradually his health began to deteriorate and a long stay in hospital was looking likely. The last time I saw Henry was just before he went into hospital and I asked him if he was scared – his response brought tears to my eyes. He looked at me ever so seriously and said “Sandra, I might not come out of hospital. I’m not scared of dying, but one things for sure, I will never ever stop fighting.”
“Never ever ever give up” – Henry Bromberg
Henry’s parents say he went courageously smiling into his last operation. Unfortunately, it was one he never recovered from. Henry passed away shortly before his tenth birthday. His funeral was comparable to the way he lived – of epic proportions. The turnout was a testament to how much he was loved.
Henry has left behind a legacy of kindness and inspiration. He was an ambassador for the charity Readathon and he is regularly remembered throughout the year by the various medical institutions/communities that he frequented.
I think of Henry often, especially when I am going through testing times. I try to channel my inner ‘Henry Dog Warrior’ and chant the mantra “never ever ever give up”. He was, and still is, one of my biggest inspirations in life.
Photo credits: The Bromberg Family