"Last night at 23:14, my best friend, my world, Charlie, took his final breath."
So began a Facebook post by Amber Schofield that thousands of people around the world had been dreading. She is the mother of Charlie Proctor, a cute, cuddly, and adventurous 5-year-old boy. Two years ago, he was diagnosed with hepatoblastoma, a rare form of cancer.
On Nov 10 he lost his battle with the terrible disease, cradled in the arms of his mother and father, but not before touching the lives of people around the world.
On her Facebook page, Charlie's Chapter, Amber and others write candidly about the horror of having a sick child. It's been a glimpse into a world we wish no one lived in, but millions of families do.
Almost 40 thousand people have been following Charlie's journey. Amber holds nothing back; her honesty is as heartbreaking as it is heartwarming. Few people can be so honest, but this woman is baring her grief for the world.
"You know when you first give birth you try and remember their first EVERYTHING," she wrote on Nov 7 about giving Charlie his final bath. "Now I try and remember Charlie's 'Lasts'. I really did cherish every minute in that bath because in my heart I know it's more than likely his last."
So often we focus on some silver lining of tragedy: the strength of someone fighting cancer, the cherished final happy moments of a family. Amber and Charlie have chronicled the beautiful and horrible moments that are proof we must continue to fight against childhood disease.
Amber told of a gut-wrenching final moment with Charlie that is enough to make anyone cry.
Unable to get comfortable, Charlie moved and wriggled from one position to the next, going from bean bag chair to sofa to bed.
"At one point he turned to me and said, in the most quiet, painting voice: 'Mummy, I am so sorry for this," she writes. "No child should feel the emotions Charlie is feeling. No Child!"
It's unimaginable. When we think of these situations we imagine the grief and heartache, even the pain a child must go through. This makes evident another despicable part of such an unfair situation: guilt.
Afflicted with a rare and horrible disease, Charlie apologized to his mother simply for trying to get a brief break from the pain. This is why we must do everything we can to battle against these diseases. It's why Amber and mothers like her need our help, our prayers, and our support.
To all those families who are out there fighting their own private battles, you are not alone.