ROWLETT -- While neighbors are celebrating the Fourth of July, the Hart family is doing their best just to make it through the day.
"I just need to be a little numb,” Megan Hart said, “because my little people are watching me, pretty much constantly."
Under normal circumstances, Megan Hart and her three daughters would love spending the day watching World Cup soccer and rejoicing in 13-year-old Brooke's every step.
Three years ago, Brooke was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare bone cancer that mainly affects children and adolescents. Brooke underwent 10 months of chemotherapy and 26 rounds of radiation treatment before the tumor on her ribs shrunk enough to be removed.
During the surgery, Hart said, a possible stroke in her spine left Brooke paralyzed.
"They were absolutely positive that she would never walk again,” Megan said, “and that was our new reality."
Brooke has endured months of grueling rehab that continues to this day. She can walk, with the help of crutches. Her family calls it a miracle.
Brooke's dad, Dirk, was always there pushing his daughter, and making her laugh.
“At least he tried,” Brooke said with a smile. “I know he told me that I would walk again and that everything would be OK."
To help make everything OK, last year Dirk cashed in a life-insurance policy to pay down a bit of the million dollars in medical debt. He also took on a second job to supplement the family’s income from a home ATM business.
Two weeks ago, the 42-year-old father went to brush his teeth in the morning, collapsed, and died instantly.
Friends have started a Dirk Hart memorial fund to help the family pay off their home, where so many good things have also happened. Click here to see the fund and contribute.
“When something like that happens, you don't want to leave where your family is,” Megan said. “And this is where we are a family. And this is where all of my daughter's memories of their dad are.”
"So it's injustice after injustice,” she said, “but we have been exceptionally blessed, as well. And I trust there will be more blessings in store, as well."
Brooke said she always expected her dad to walk her down the aisle on her wedding day.
She may walk alone, when the time comes, but she will walk. And she says her dad will be there.