The parents of Leland Shoemake, a 6-year-old boy who died from a rare brain infection, found a touching note left by him when they returned home from the hospital.
Tim and Amber Shoemake were preparing clothes for Leland’s burial when they came across the note in the living room, according to a Facebook post written by Amber.
“Stil with you,” the note reads. "Thank you mom [and] dad."
"We have no idea when he wrote it but you can tell he was always a special child," Amber wrote. "We will love you forever Leland."
“He was a preemie baby but came out screaming and healthy,” she wrote earlier in the post. “He was smart from day one. He knew his abc’s, numbers, colors, shapes and 20 sight words by the time he was a year old. He was our little nerd and we loved that about him. He loved school and loved to learn. ... He was the smartest, most caring, loving little boy there ever was. He was taken from us too soon. He could have done great things in this world.”
Leland died from an amoeba known as Balamuthia mandrillaris, which is found in soil and causes infections in humans.
“The one thing he loved most was playing in the dirt,” Amber wrote. “I never imagined that would be the thing that would take him from me.”
Leland became ill approximately one month before his death and was in critical condition in the hospital for two weeks, the Daily Mail reports.
One of the infections caused by the amoeba is granulomatous amoebic encephalitis. Symptoms of GAE include eye problems, seizures and other serious neurological problems.
Ten days before Leland died, his mother wrote: "He has had bad headaches, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, and now his eyes are crossed and he can't focus on anything without his eyes moving and seeing double."
It is not known whether Leland died from GAE.
There have been only 100 reported cases of GAE in the world, and half of those were in the U.S., according to the medical journal Clinical Infectious Diseases. Only two people, a 5-year-old girl and a 64-year-old man, are known to have survived GAE.