Skip to main content

‘Aaron is not afraid’: Minnesota man lives final moments with inspiring grace


"I want to be clear as a bell with everyone: he is dying."

Nora Purmort published those words – graceful, yet blunt – Monday, at 7:56 p.m.

They're about her husband, Aaron Purmort, a young father who managed to throw his wife a surprise 30th birthday party while still in the hospital, one day after surgery to remove a brain tumor.

Aaron was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2011. Nora has been tracing her husband's journey on her blog, My Husband's Tumor.

"It's not a cancer story," the site prefaces, "it's a love story. With some cancer."

They fell in love in 2010, and the next year, Aaron had a seizure at work. He was diagnosed with stage four brain cancer, and had two surgeries to remove a tumor.

But life went on. They got married, went to concerts and movies together, spent time at the lake. Aaron pursued his design career and became a fixture in the Minneapolis advertising community. In January of 2013 they had a child. Aaron was seizure-free.

Until February of 2014.

On the 28th of that month, Aaron suffered a seizure while behind the wheel, and got into a car crash that made national headlines for the kind gesture that followed.

He blacked out and was taken from the scene in an ambulance. But he and Nora later found a note in his jacket – “Your car is parked in the tobacco shop parking lot at 18th Av NE and Stinson.”

Nora posted a thank you online, not knowing who moved the car or why. It drew thousands of likes and comments.

This embed is invalid

Later, Minneapolis Police officer Kyle Severson came forward, saying he drove it away so it would not get towed – then slipped that note into Aaron’s jacket pocket.

Nine months after the act of kindness that introduced Aaron, Nora and their family to the world, Aaron's life is ending.

A fundraising page was started for the Purmorts, to help pay for Aaron's care and support his family in the months to come.

Others are supporting the family by buying t-shirts. A replica of the t-shirt that Aaron was wearing during his seizure, with the slogan "Still Kickin,' " is on sale at

"It's a message to the world no matter what life hands you, giving up is for wusses," says the online description. About 450 of the shirts have been purchased so far.

Proceeds from the sales go toward the family and the Musella Center for Brain Tumor Research.

Meanwhile, Nora’s writing has captured the hearts of countless people all over the world. But she is adamant that her writing is simply a "prism that helps Aaron’s light and magic reach more people."

And in these, his final moments, Aaron's light has never burned brighter.

"Everyone wants to see him. I get it. I do. And if it were really my choice I’d be like oh yeah, come on in, say good bye! But, he just doesn’t want to.

It didn’t really make sense to me at first, but now I get it. No matter how many people may surround you, death is a solitary journey. In the past few days, I have seen the man who has walked beside me for four years slowly drift onto his own path, where I cannot follow. I know, though, that when it is my turn, I’ll recognize the footprints he left for me, and I won’t feel alone and I won’t feel afraid.

Aaron is not afraid.

The end of life is important, but if you have lived well, it is no more or less important than the beginning of your life, or the middle."

Next Up

Kirill Kaprizov

Kirill Kaprizov's slow start is a thing of the past

A potential sophomore slump has been erased with a three-point night against the Devils..

mpd aldi incident screengrab

Video shows MPD officer grab, throw Aldi customer

The department says the matter was referred to the Office of Police Conduct Review.

US Sec Defense Flickr - Joe Bide Nov 11 2021

Biden lays out wintertime plan to curb COVID's spread

It comes as the U.S. reported its second case of the omicron variant.

Willow River DOC

MN Dept. of Corrections offering $5K bonuses as it seeks to hire 200

The DOC is offering hiring bonuses for new employees and for referrals.


3rd federal medical team to join COVID-19 fight in Minnesota

There are more than 1,500 people with COVID-19 admitted to Minnesota hospitals.

hospital, emergency room

Driver killed after other motorist crosses into opposite lane

The head-on crash occurred early Thursday, just north of the Twin Cities.

shot clock

MSHSL approves shot clock for Minnesota varsity basketball

Shot clocks will be required at all varsity games beginning in 2023-24.

Redmons Popcorn Colbert screengrab

Popcorn shop featured on 'The Late Show' has to close 2 days later

A county inspection after the national TV appearance found code violations.


2014: The year Minnesotans' bravery amid tragedy inspired millions

Bravery is inspirational. Seeing others endure, thrive, and laugh during difficult times moves people, and resonates in a way few other stories manage to do. But there's also something tragic about bravery: To be fearless and inspire others, there must be something worth fearing in the first place. Bravery can't exist without tragedy, so these tales become about two sides to the same coin: The inspiring strength to power forward, while acknowledging the very real, often unimaginable circumstance.