ATLANTA - The mother of a 6-year-old Georgia boy who died while battling a serious form of a rare amoebic infection is grateful for the community's support during this difficult time.
"Reality still hasn't set in that he's not here with us," said Amber Shoemake Wednesday on the family's Facebook page Prayers for Leland. "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 contracted the infection while playing in the dirt several weeks ago. Friday, the family shared the devastating news of the passing of the first grader.
On Monday, Amber Shoemake spoke out for the first time following her son's death and released a heartfelt message 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 him safe. The one thing he loved most was playing in the dirt. I never imagined that would be the thing that would take him from me. He was my world. He made me a mother. We struggled so hard to have him. He was a preemie baby but came out screaming and healthy. He was smart from day one. He knew his abc's, numbers, colors, shapes and 20 sight words by the time he was a year old. He was our little nerd and we loved that about him. He loved school and loved to learn. He loved the history channel, the weather channel, documentaries and anything about history. He loved ships like the titanic and learning about things like WWII. He was perfect. His favorite movie was jaws. His favorite director was Steven Spielberg. And his favorite actor was Adam Sandler. He loved his brother and his family so much. He was the life of every party. His smile could light up a city. He was the smartest, most caring, loving little boy there ever was. He was taken from us too soon. He could have done great things in this world. We would only have a few friends in this county if it wasn't for Leland. He never met a stranger and he loved everyone. My whole life this has been my only fear and it came true. No one should ever have to bury a child. I always said I hope it's me that goes first bc I don't think I'm strong enough to handle something like this. It still doesn't seem real to me. I find myself sitting here remembering things he would say and quotes from movies he would repeat. Like "check ya later" from dazed and confused. Or "you're gonna need a bigger boat" from jaws. Or all the million things he used to say from Billy Madison. He was the light of our life and the center of this family. I count the days until I can see his sweet face again and hear that beautiful voice. When Tim and I came home for the first time to get him clothes to be buried in, this is the note we found from him on the table in the living room. We have no idea when he wrote it but you can tell he was always a special child. We will love you forever Leland. Sleep tight and don't let the bed bugs bite!”
If you would like to leave a positive message or prayer for the family you can go to facebook.com/PrayersforLeland.
Friends and family paid their last respect on Monday at Oak Hill Baptist Church in Williamson, Georgia