When Jean Manning moved from Florida to Massachusetts with her son Jake to get better medical treatment for her terminal breast cancer, neither she nor Jake had any idea that he would not only gain a friend but a family, too.
After the two settled in Ayer, Massachusetts, more than four years ago, Jake, who has Down syndrome, began attending a school where he quickly bonded with his new teacher, Kerry Bremer.
"I fell in love with him instantly and as she got sicker that year, I just thought, 'What is she going to do?'" Bremer told ABC affiliate WCVB-TV.
The two families spent weekends and even holidays together over the years as Manning continued to battle cancer.
During that time, Bremer said she made a promise to Manning about 14-year-old Jake.
"If you need a backup plan for Jake, then our family is happy to make him part of our family," Bremer said. "And she said, 'I'll sleep better tonight than I have in a long time.'"
During those years, Jake bonded with Bremer's children, Kaitlyn, Kristen and Jonathan, as well as with her husband, Dave.
"When I first met him, when he was back in Kerry's class, it was fun," Dave Bremer told WCVB-TV.
On Wednesday, Nov. 13, Jake's mother died while he was in school.
"My mom went to heaven," Jake said. "She's always in my heart."
"Jeannie Manning became a 'Queen Angel.' She fought a long, hard and often very unfair battle with cancer. ... As a result of her passing, we will love, protect and treasure Jake just as we promised," Kerry Bremer posted on her Facebook page on Friday. "He will live with us forever and we will keep her memory, her love, her determination and her beautiful smile alive in his heart and ours every day! We love you 'Queen Angel Mom.' Fly high and watch over us every day."
A crowdfunding page set up for Jake in memory of Manning had raised more than $38,000 as of Thursday.
Kerry Bremer said that Jake had brought "everything" to her family and that she was grateful for the gift that Jean had given them.
Kerry Bremer added: "She will live on here in this house."