Was there a lot of covert onion-chopping going on at the office or was 2013 particularly packed with heartstring-pulling stories? After reviewing our archives, I’m going to go with the latter. From tearful dog reunions to tales of heartbreaking loss to kids showing kindness and compassion far beyond their years, here are the stories that had us unabashedly sobbing at our desks this year:
1. The inspiring saga of Batkid taking over San Francisco kept us rapt — and in a state of perpetual sniffles — for an entire glorious day in November. Even President Obama thanked Batkid for his services! Relive the adventure here.
2. When Aaron Collins passed away last year, he left very clear instructions in his will: “Leave an awesome tip … I mean $500 on a fucking pizza.” His brother took up the challenge and has been traveling the country surprising servers with massive tips and capturing their reactions on video. So sad. So sweet.
3. Remember the little boy who asked Santa to stop the bullies from picking on his sister at school, and to make her feel better, could Santa also invite her favorite boy band to come sing at her birthday party? And remember when the band in question then surprised said sister and serenaded her with her favorite songs? WATERFALL OF TEARS.
4. We’re still choked up over this photographer’s touching, personal, and hauntingly beautiful photo essay about his wife’s battle with breast cancer. Their tragic love story is, as Amelia put it, “a multi-hanky read.”
5. This adorable baby’s reaction to her mother singing her a song looks exactly like our reaction while watching this video. River. Of. Mascara.
6. File this under “hope for the future”: this first grade class in Minnesota have sent more than 50,000 “get well” cards to people in their community who are sick, hurt, or suffering. Each card is hand decorated and includes sweet, personalized messages of love and compassion.
7. It doesn’t get much sadder or more touching than a dad with terminal cancer getting his last wish – to walk his daughters down the aisle – granted in a poignant church ceremony.
8. We cried rage-induced tears after reading the heartbreaking story of Mama Jade, a pitbull who had been horrifically abused and abandoned by dogfighters in Nashville. Then we cried tears of relief that she had been rescued and was finally receiving the medical treatment and love she needed. Want to cry even more? Read the most recent Mama Jade update. (Spoiler alert: she’s doing amazingly well and is really into wearing sweaters.)
9. Keeping with the theme of “sad dog stories with happy endings,” we can’t forget about the dog who was ripped away from its owner during the deadly tornado in Moore, Oklahoma only to be reunited during a live news interview. What a crazy, amazing story.
10. And finally, this mother’s letter to her gay son is the perfect example of how to react when your kid comes out of the closet: with unconditional love, understanding, and motherly nonchalance. We got to the second sentence before we turned into a bawling mess.