After daughter's passing, mother publishes book she wrote as a c - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

After daughter's passing, mother publishes book she wrote as a child

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Credit: Monica Sword Credit: Monica Sword

Lena Kay Rufus was only ten years old when she wrote, "Hoofen Floofen Island."

"She came home from school with her little story written on loose leaf paper from a class assignment in third grade," said her mom, Monica Sword, in a video posted to the book's website. 

"Hoofen Floofen Island" is an imaginative tale about a little girl who wins a ticket to anywhere in the world.

"It's about what she does with the ticket and where she goes and who she takes along. It's a gloomy day when [the book] starts and it's a story about inclusiveness. So overall, the theme is gloom to gladness," Sword said.

Thirteen years later, Sword would know that theme well. 

Lena, a member of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and a graduate of Washburn High School, had lupus, causing her to have a compromised immune system. She was exposed to meningitis and died in March 2003. She was 22 years old. 

"My life right after she died, and not only for me, but my whole family, was pretty damn bad," Sword said, "It was very gloomy. I couldn't understand why this had happened to me, why this had happened to her, all these unanswered questions that there really are no answers for."

Years after Lena passed, Sword went back to the box in which she had stored the story. 

"After she passed away it became more motivation for me to publish it," she said.

Over the course of three years, Monica worked with an illustrator to bring Lena's words to life. The book went on sale in July.

"It gave us a way to keep Lena forefront in our life, keep her alive, keep the memory of her alive, and to produce a gift to the world," Sword said, "[Publishing the book] hasn't fixed the fact that Lena died, but it has provided me a way to keep her alive in my heart."

Sword says publishing the book has been the most cathartic way to deal with her grief. 

"I always have to have some kind of a project going and it gave me a way to work on a project where Lena was the focus," Sword said, "I could talk to her about it even though she wasn't here."

Proceeds from Lena's book go to her Memorial Scholarship Fund. 

The book is sold at Karlyn's Gallery in Washburn and Apostle Islands Booksellers in Bayfield.

It is also available online here

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