A little less than three and a half years ago young Riley Hughes passed away after contracting whooping cough.
He was just 32 days old.
On Monday his father Greg Hughes, from Western Australia, shared the heartbreaking letter he wrote to his young son after his passing and bravely read out on the day of his funeral.
The father explained that from the day his boy was born, he felt like his world had been completed and said he wasn’t the only one to be smitten with Riley.
“After your birth, our daughter became a maniacal 3-year-old who was hell-bent on telling everyone how perfect you were. Whenever I’d go to sit on my couch, I’d be greeted with “Girls only! …And Riley too…!” the letter read.
“I’d have been upset if it weren’t for the fact that you were just so perfect that I understood why she made exceptions for you.”
Following Riley’s death he wrote about his “beautiful baby boy who reinstated the balance of power in a distinctly female dominated household”.
Mr Hughes said all his hopes and dreams came true on the day Riley was born, but his world was thrown into chaos after he passed away.
The letter continued: “Life was perfect. Our family of four was complete.
“And then…. you were gone.
“I stand here completely bereft of words suitable to convey the enormity of loss I’m currently experiencing. I’m devastated, angry, heartbroken, empty, lost, confused, bewildered.”
He added: “The name Riley means courageous or valiant, and in 32 days you’ve achieved more than I ever could have dreamt to achieve in 32 lifetimes.
“I want to be mad at you for leaving me behind; my house empty, my three year old bossy, my wife likewise. But I find an inner comfort in the fact that you were put here with a purpose.”
‘He’s still such an important part of my life’
Riley was a healthy boy when he came into the world on February 13, 2015, but at three weeks old he started to display cold-like symptoms. A doctor initially assured his parents he was fine.
But his condition did not improve, and his parents, Catherine and Greg Hughes, knew something was wrong when he barely woke for a feed during the night. Riley was admitted to hospital that afternoon.
On his fourth day in hospital tests confirmed he had whooping cough, and sadly Riley passed away the following afternoon.
The family will never stop missing the little boy they lost and Mr Hughes said he just wanted to post a picture of his face and share his words to his beloved son.
He found the moving letter the other day.
“I was looking through his box of memories I have and just having a bit of a down day,” Mr Hughes told Yahoo7.
“I felt like sharing a photo of him because I miss him terribly and sometimes I just want to acknowledge that he’s still such an important part of my life.”
The Hughes family, who have since had another daughter, have shared Riley’s story online and said they want to ensure his passing was not in vain by educating families on the importance of vaccination.
The devastated father also speaks openly about the “honest truths of parenting as a dad who has lost a child”.
He hopes to inspire others to speak freely about their tragic losses also.
Other parents and Facebook users have supported Mr Hughes and his family following his heartbreaking post, saying their hearts ache for them.
“Never need an excuse to post a picture of the ones we miss,” another grieving parent who said her beautiful girl had also grown her angel wings wrote.
“Thank you for sharing beautiful words for a beautiful boy,” another Facebook user wrote.
Another added: “What an amazing legacy he has left behind.”