When most people know that they don’t have much longer to live, they put down a list of things they want to do before they die. But all that Rowena Darby wanted to do was spend whatever little time she had left with her son and make sure he has umpteen number of things to remember her by.
Rowena gave birth to Freddie in June 2010. The same year, in the month of October, she started experiencing pain. “The doctors still said it was piles or a fissure and gave me strong painkillers. Six months later, I had an internal investigation that found nothing, but I was still in pain,” Rowena previously said, as quoted by the Daily Mail. “Then in May 2011, I had a colonoscopy (an examination of the colon) and I knew immediately that something was wrong because it was really painful. More scans followed. In June 2011 – a week before Freddie’s first birthday – I was told I had cancer.”
Eventually, the mother was told that she had only two years left to live. Even though she was broken by the news, she decided to not waste her time on self-pity and focused on her son’s life.
“I can’t waste any time crying,” she said. “Of course, there have been tears and the last thing I want to do is leave Freddie. But I can’t let my time be taken up by being upset because what good is it going to do? The important thing is to spend time with Freddie, give him lots of lovely memories and make sure he can cope when I’m no longer around.”
She made bracelets by herself and sold them so that she and her husband, Phil would have enough money to take little Freddie on holidays and make memories together, as reported by The Bolton News. Rowena added, “I know a lot of people in my situation create a bucket list but I just want to be a mum and do normal stuff with my son.”
At the time, Freddie was just around three years old when Rowena was putting together emails and cards for her little boy. Not only did she write cards for his birthdays, all the way till he turns 21, but she also wrote cards for all the big days in his life—his first day at school, his graduation day, his wedding day—all the days that the mother desperately wanted to see but couldn’t.
“He doesn’t know I’m going to die because he doesn’t understand what dying is yet. But the other day he said: ‘Mummy I don’t like it when you go into hospital because I miss you.’ It broke my heart,” she said.
She knew that after a while, she will no longer be around to talk to her son or comfort him with a hug when things go wrong. “That’s why I want to be able to give him these cards – so he can look at them when he wants to feel me near to him and know just how much I love him,” she said.
“When he’s ten, he’ll get one that says: ‘Life is ten percent what happens to us and 90 percent how we react to it,’ because by that stage, he might be struggling to deal with the fact that I’m not there,” the mother went on to say. “On his wedding day, he has one that says: ‘Love is a symbol of eternity. It wipes out all sense of time, destroying all memory of a beginning and all fear of an end.’ I know it’s not the same as me being there in person, but I hope it helps him know how much I love him.”
Freddie was even left with a teddy bear that he is told will directly convey messages to his mother. “I’ve told Freddie that his teddy bear has a hotline to Mummy for when I’m not there,” Rowena said. “So, he talks to him and can tell him anything he wants – and I’ve told him his teddy will pass it on to me, no matter where I am.”
At the age of 34, Rowena passed away on December 29, 2014, with her loved ones around her. “Being a mother was all she ever wanted from life and to have had that taken away from her was a particularly cruel thing to happen,” her husband said. “That’s why she was as determined as she was to be alive as long as she could and to create memories to preserve her legacy for Freddie. She was an amazing mum. I always knew she would be.”