When a 6-year-old boy passed away suddenly from a rare brain infection in 2015, his devastated parents came home from the hospital and found something he had left for them in the living room. It was a last note to Mom and Dad, which made them break down in tears.
Little Leland Shoemake, from Pike County, Georgia, was sent to hospital two weeks after he started complaining about headaches. While he was at the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta hospital in Egleston, his mom and dad stayed at his bedside. After two more weeks, the 6-year-old passed away from his brain infection on Sept. 25, 2015.
After returning home, Leland’s grief-stricken parents, Amber and Tim, had the heartbreaking task of picking out clothes for their son to be buried in. That’s when they noticed a spiral-bound notebook on the living room table with a childish love note, written in bright markers, to Mom and Dad. Amber went to pieces upon seeing it. It read:
Still with you
Thank you mom & dad
Love [red heart] mom dad
Perhaps, somehow, their son had known he would not make it home and had left a note for his parents before leaving for the hospital. She later posted a picture of it with a caption on Facebook.
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…
“We were in shock and broke down as soon as we saw it,” Amber wrote. “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.
“We have no idea when he wrote it but you can tell he was always a special child.”
These were family pictures I did of us when he was three. Oh I wish I had these days all over again.
Little Leland died from an infection caused by the amoeba Balamuthia mandrillaris, which can cause serious infections of both the brain and spinal cord.
“Reality still hasn’t set in that he’s not here with us,” the grieving mom, who believed her son might have contracted the “brain-eating” amoeba while playing outside, 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.”
Her Facebook post bid her son a final farewell: “We will love you forever Leland. Sleep tight and don’t let the bed bugs bite!”
In February 2016, Amber and Tim initiated “The Leland Shoemake Foundation” in honor of Leland. The foundation aims to help children in need in the community, and to raise awareness of deadly amoeba.