Anastasia Cunningham, News Coordinator
"Thank you, Jesus; thank you, Lord," were three-year-old Xyhir Ince's last words to his mother Kerry-Ann Ince before giving her a high five.
Just after 10 o'clock on Monday morning, he slipped into a mild coma, following a stroke, never to recover. At 6:18 the following evening, he died at the Bustamante Hospital for Children, leaving his family and many around the world heartbroken and in tears.
Diagnosed with trilateral retino-blastoma, Xyhir was completely blind, with both eyeballs surgically removed. He also had brain tumours, which were threatening his life and causing excruciating pain. One tumour was growing at a rapid rate out of his left eye socket on to the face, while another was growing at the base of his brain, wrapping itself around two main arteries.
When the story of his faith in the midst of such agonising pain and suffering was first highlighted in The Sunday Gleaner on November 11, it touched the lives of thousands of persons around the world who responded with love, support, prayers and funds to help with his medical treatment.
"Thanks a million to everyone for the support and words of encouragement. It was over-whelming," said Kerry-Ann, her eyes red and face stained with tears.
TOUCHED SEVERAL LIVES
"I feel the whole publication of his story was ordained by God because when his story went out there, it touched so many people. I try to find comfort in the fact that he had accomplished his mission here on earth. The publication of his story was the last step because from the many responses we got, so many people's lives were changed because of this little boy's faith.
"People were saying for a baby of three to have so much faith in God, especially with what he was going through, then you had to learn something from him. The Bible said a child shall lead the way. I knew he was sent by God for a purpose and he fulfilled that purpose."
As Kerry-Ann sat with her husband, Devon, and two daughters - Devkerina, 8, and Kiaria, 5 - in the living room of their home in Willodene, Spanish Town, St Catherine, yesterday, the family was doing its best to cope with the loss.
"It is bittersweet for us because children should bury their parents, not parents bury children," said Devon.
"But when I saw the CT (computerised tomography) scan of his brain at the hospital yesterday, that's when I truly realised how much pain he was in and the magnitude of his suffering. The tumour had completely taken over his brain. As hard as it is, I know he is no longer suffering. I did not want him to suffer anymore."
With a faint smile, Kerry-Ann noted: "He is happy now."
Devon added: "Yesterday, I realised something. Jesus' ministry was three years, where he taught the valuable lessons about love, unity and faith. And Xyhir's three years with us symbolised and epitomised that. The message was delivered by the messenger and now he has gone back home."
The parents recounted the countless comments and stories they got from persons around the world about the impact Xyhir's story had on their lives and how he had renewed their faith.
They also reflected on the fond memories shared with their only son, especially his sharp memory and amazing ability to read emotions and tell everyone apart, despite the fact that he was blind.
"I never saw anything like that yet. He was so amazing," his mother shared.
The family intends to use the money donated to Xyhir's medical fund to set up a foundation, in his honour, with the aim of helping a child stricken with cancer or who is visually impaired.
"I want Xyhir's legacy to be that with faith. There is no need to be scared, whatever the adversity, whatever the illness or if you're making a step into the unknown. Each time they remember him, this is what I want them to remember," Devon said.