The terrible loss of a child due to an accident, a cancer battle, or another illness is a reality that many families must confront.
And you might want to have some tissues handy since the story of 6-year-old Leland Shoemake is an emotional roller coaster.
Leland Shoemake, age 6, was a typical Williamson, Georgia kid.
His bright disposition, keen mind, and inventiveness made a lasting imprint on everybody who met him.
”He knew his abc’s, numbers, colors, shapes and 20 sight words by the time he was a year old. He was our little nerd and we loved that about him. He loved school and loved to learn. He loved the history channel, the weather channel, documentaries and anything about history,” his mother, Amber Shoemake, shared on social media.
Leland’s name would never have reached our ears under different circumstances, but destiny had other intentions for him.
In 2015, Leland fell unwell out of the blue and was sent to the hospital.
His health deteriorated swiftly, and it was soon determined that he had an amoebic brain infection brought on by Balamuthia mandrillaris. It was unclear how Leland contracted the infection, but he might have picked it up when playing outside.
”The one thing he loved most was playing in the dirt,” Mrs Shoemake wrote on her Facebook post and continued:
”I never imagined that would be the thing that would take him from me.”
At first, doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong with Leland and speculated that he had meningitis. However, more testing revealed that he actually had an amebic infection of the brain.
”He has had bad headaches, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, and now his eyes are crossed and he can’t focus on anything without his eyes moving and seeing double,” his mom on the family’s GoFundme page.
Despite his best efforts, Leland passed away on September 25, 2015.
His parents were overcome with grief when they came home from the hospital where they had said goodbye to their precious kid. But even as their hearts broke, the family’s focus turned to something on the coffee table.
Leland had written a touching note for his parents, continuing his sweet tradition of giving them messages and pictures.
The note read: ‘Stil (sic) with you… Thank you mom and dad… Love.’ He also drew a red heart that contained three words: mom, dad and love.
It’s hard to imagine how much it meant to the bereaved parents and how much comfort it offered them during such a difficult time.
In the midst of their tragic loss, Leland’s note provided a bittersweet reminder of the love and connection they shared.
”We have no idea when he wrote it but you can tell he was always a special child,” his mother said.
Below, we’ve excerpted extensively from The Leland Shoemake Foundation’s article for your reading pleasure:
This is Amber. This will be my only post on here for awhile.
I was over protective of Leland and tried my best to keep him safe. The one thing he loved most was playing in the dirt. I never imagined that would be the thing that would take him from me.
He was my world. He made me a mother. We struggled so hard to have him. He was a preemie baby but came out screaming and healthy. He was smart from day one. He knew his abc’s, numbers, colors, shapes and 20 sight words by the time he was a year old. He was our little nerd and we loved that about him. He loved school and loved to learn.
He loved the history channel, the weather channel, documentaries and anything about history. He loved ships like the titanic and learning about things like WWII. He was perfect. His favorite movie was jaws. His favorite director was Steven Spielberg. And his favorite actor was Adam Sandler. He loved his brother and his family so much. He was the life of every party. His smile could light up a city. He was the smartest, most caring, loving little boy there ever was.
He could have done great things in this world. We would only have a few friends in this county if it wasn’t for Leland. He never met a stranger and he loved everyone. My whole life this has been my only fear and it came true. No one should ever have to bury a child. I always said I hope it’s me that goes first bc I don’t think I’m strong enough to handle something like this.
It still doesn’t seem real to me.
I find myself sitting here remembering things he would say and quotes from movies he would repeat. Like “check ya later” from dazed and confused. Or “you’re gonna need a bigger boat” from jaws. Or all the million things he used to say from Billy Madison.
He was the light of our life and the center of this family.
I count the days until I can see his sweet face again and hear that beautiful voice.
When Tim and I came home for the first time to get him clothes to be buried in, this is the note we found from him on the table in the living room. We have no idea when he wrote it but you can tell he was always a special child.
We will love you forever Leland. Sleep tight and don’t let the bed bugs bite!
Burying one’s own child is the most devastating experience a parent can endure. However, amidst the immeasurable pain, is our hope that we can continue to share Leland’s story, ensuring he is never forgotten.
Let us honor the great young man he was, and may his passing serve as a sobering lesson that we must seize the moment and appreciate every gift life has to offer.
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