Riley Hughes was just 32 days old when whooping cough fatally ravaged his tiny lungs last March. It was a devastating tragedy that changed the lives of his parents, Greg and Catherine, but could end up saving those of other children.
The couple have worked tirelessly in the wake of the little boy’s death to ensure that people don’t succumb to vaccine-preventable diseases via government lobbying and the establishment of a new research foundation. And the birth of their new daughter, Lucy, is spurning them on.
On Monday the “energetic” little girl reached the 32-day mark, a day that was bittersweet for the Perth family.
“I think I spent most of that day cuddling her and watching her, just thinking about what awful things Riley was experiencing at that age,” Catherine told Kidspot.
“I now think of her as Riley’s ‘little big’ sister – she’s technically his little sister but is now older than him.”
Lucy Hughes. Via Light for Riley.
While Catherine says she coped well during Lucy's birth thanks to the support of hospital staff, a whirlpool of emotions swallowed her as she walked out the door.
“The last time we’d left a hospital, we were leaving a baby behind," she said. "Sometimes I stare at her and feel guilty that she’s alive and Riley isn’t. I know these aren’t very rational thoughts or feelings, but I just feel so bad that he’s gone.”
Their eldest, Olivia, who turns 5 in November, also feels and understands little Riley's loss more deeply than her years might suggest.