The Short of It
Could 6-year-old Leland Shoemake have known that his illness would have cost him his life—and that his parents would need comforting? How else to explain his sweet note that brought hope to his parents, which says, "Still with you; thank you mom and dad; love mom and dad; it's a good day."
Six-year-old Leland Shoemake of Williamson, Georgia, loved to play in the dirt—and that passion for mud pies may have led to him contracting Balamuthia mandrillaris, an extremely rare brain amoeba that attacks the brain and spinal cord, and led to his death. As his condition quickly worsened, he was diagnosed with allergies and a sinus infection before his mom Amber's intuition kicked in and she suggested a test for parasites.
Just two days after receiving the correct diagnosis, Leland was brain dead, leaving behind his devastated parents—and a poignant note that gives them hope. When they returned home to find burial clothes for him, they found the sweet, heart-adorned note waiting for them on a piece of notebook paper. "We have no idea when he wrote it," Amber wrote in a post on the Facebook page Prayers for Leland. "But you can tell he was always a special child."
Yep, I cried when I read this touching story, which strikes a little too close to home for me. (I barely survived a run-in with an equally rare bacteria when I was eight years old.) Our hearts go out to the Shoemake family, and we hope that the note and the memories of the joy their son gave them help bring them peace.