"I can't waste any time crying," the mother said. "...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."
When most people know that they don't really have a lot of time to live, they spend the rest of their time trying to do whatever it is that they really wanted to do. Rowena Darby was dying of cancer and all she wanted to do was spend whatever little time she had left with her son and make sure he had countless 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, she was given the devastating news by her doctors that she only had two months to live. Even though the news left her broken, she decided not to let it affect her or waste her time on self-pity. Instead, she 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 began to make bracelets and she sold them so she'd have enough money to take Freddie on holidays along with her husband, Phil, 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." When Rowena was busy putting together emails and cards for her little one, he was only three.
Not only did she write cards for his birthdays, 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 death 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 she will no longer be around to talk to her son or comfort him with a hug when things go wrong, after the time she's been given to live.
"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." On December 29, 2014, Rowena passed away at the age of 34. Her loved ones were around her to bid their final goodbyes.
"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."