Nobody should ever have to look at the face of a parent at their child’s funeral. It’s not something you will ever forget and it’s not something anyone should ever have to experience. Yesterday, I was among hundreds of mourners who watched as two broken parents, Danielle and Richard, said goodbye to their beautiful little boy Millar.
Millar had just turned seven. For almost a year exactly, he battled brain cancer.
And his mum Dan and dad Rich battled alongside him, with the ferocious love of the devoted parents they are. Every moment, when he was awake and when he was asleep, they were there and he was surrounded by love. From his mum and dad, his sister and brother, his grandparents and friends and extended family and the extraordinary nursing and medical and support staff at the Sydney Children’s Hospital.
There were many unforgettable things about Millar’s funeral. The music. The children – his friends – who sat quietly next to their parents. The composure of his father to deliver a beautiful tribute. The bravery of his mother being even able to stand upright. The cheeky smile of that beautiful boy illuminated on giant screens in photo after photo. The slideshow and videos that reminded everyone of how much life and joy he packed into his shockingly too-short years.
The way his community banded around his family to hold them up, sometimes literally, with arms and love and the brightly coloured clothes everyone wore. Red was Millar’s favourite colour. The Sydney Swans his favourite team.
The dozens of nurses and medical professionals from the hospital where Millar has spent this past year. Their presence was incredibly affecting. They shed tears with everyone else and their grief was palpable. Of the hundreds of people who gathered to say goodbye to this little boy, it was the nursing staff who had a unique insight into turbulence of Millar’s struggles and triumphs, along with his broken parents and big sister and brother.
He has a starfish on his tum-tum! This beautiful little man’s name is Millar. He’s not with us anymore. Brain cancer got him. His funeral was today. Two months ago he put his thumbprint (inset) on our LYS ‘Her Heart Will Go On’ art installation – the brainchild of villager Marie Ramos, who is collecting 2,000 thumb-hearts to hang at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, to raise 100K. Millar’s family have contributed 80 thumb-hearts off their own bat, and today at the funeral, another 100 were added. I just got a message from Millar’s family, saying ‘they were honoured to be making a difference in their darkest days’. I think us villagers would agree that the honour is surely shared.
Let me be absolutely clear. I want us villagers to honour Millar, as he was by those who attended his service today, by purchasing a thumb-heart to hang along with his.
We’ve got to stop this madness. This one is ruining me. I always present giving as an option, but I’m saying please this time. Please help us vanquish ALL cancers, so that these stories don’t have to keep being told. He was six for fuck’s sake.
We stand with the Munro family and their friends during this totally crap time.
Please support the ‘Her Heart Will Go On’ campaign by buying a heart, as Millar and his family did, during those darkest of days. You can also donate via Love Your Sister. The Munro family’s days are darker still now, now that Millar is gone.
But that cheeky little smile of his will never be forgotten. And we all need to band together to support those fighting cancer, those we have lost and make sure that we find a damn cure for this rotten disease as soon as is scientifically possible.
Listen: For anyone going through grief…