Little 6-year-old Leland Shoemake began to complain about headaches, his parents, Amber and Tim, thought that something was wrong but they didn’t realize how severe this situation was.
Doctors revealed to them that Leland had been contaminated with Balamuthia mandrillaris, which is a free-living amoeba that can cause brain and spinal cord damage. While this illness is somewhat rare, it can enter the body when dirt containing the amoeba comes into contact with cuts or wounds.
Wanting their child to feel his best, they allowed doctors to treat Leland immediately at the hospital. However, Leland’s condition was only getting worse.
A Facebook page was made by the family to keep everyone updated. One post written by Amber stated, “He’s being kept sedated but his pressures keep spiking. They did a CT and it shows swelling in the brain and decreased overall quality of his brain. Also, it looked like the infection has gotten worse. I’m broken.”
Sadly, not too long after that, Leland died.
“Reality still hasn’t set in that he’s not here with us,” Amber wrote. “We miss him terribly. Today we go to pick out his headstone. I’m not ready for this either. I’m not sure how I’m going to go on without him. How do you not only say goodbye to a child but your best friend.”
Leland’s heartbroken parents came home from the hospital for the first time to try to do something they never thought they would have to do – pick out the clothes for Leland’s burial. That’s when they noticed something that stunned them – a spiral-bound notebook sitting on the table in the living room.
When Amber saw what was written on it she broke down in tears. Perhaps somehow knowing he would never make it home, Leland had left a note for his parents to find.
“We were in shock and broke down as soon as we saw it,” Amber said. “He was amazing in life and still is after his passing. He touched everyone he met and we are amazed at how many lives he’s touched since he left us.”
After Leland’s passing, Amber set up a foundation in his honor. The proceeds go to helping underprivileged kids at Christmas, which was one of Leland’s favorite holidays.
“My hope is to spread awareness and help spread Leland’s love throughout,” she said. “Everything I do will be in his honor. Please join Leland’s pay it forward movement and do a good deed for someone in honor of him. Tell them Leland’s story and ask them to pay it forward in his name and continue to tell everyone about him.”
Were you touched by the sweet note Leland left for his parents? If so be sure to share, like and comment!