Author’s Note: Telling Bo’s Story

In today’s Pulse you’ll find the story of Bo Johnson’s battle against leukemia, one for which he somehow summons more courage every day. On Aug. 27, his doctor’s told him there was nothing more they could do for him, and Bo decided to come home.

I struggled to think of the best way to do justice to such a delicate subject.

Then I thought of all those who we honor after they’re gone. I thought of all the tributes I’ve written to people over the years, and how they always leave me with a sense of inadequacy.

I always wish I had written them a week earlier.

Last week Bo and his mother Annika agreed to talk openly and honestly about what they’ve been through and how they feel today, as they have throughout their journey. What readers should know is that over hours of conversation, what this 13-year-old boy confined to his bed didn’t exhibit was self-pity.

Bo spoke of things he wanted to do with his friends and of how much he wanted to live so that he could do for others what they have done for him. I was in awe of his strength, his kindness, and his appreciation for what his 13 years have given him.

He has brought out the best of this community and, more specifically, this community’s children. Bo and Annika’s willingness to share their fight, to reveal every up and every down so openly, has allowed people to feel, to show how much they care. Perhaps most importantly, they have opened the doors to difficult conversations between mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, among friends, and even strangers.

As Gibraltar School principal Kirk Knutson told me through a lump in his throat: “We’re better for Bo, and we’re better because of Bo.”

One need only take a drive through the freshly orange tint of Northern Door to recognize that.