Their using their pain to teach others about family
The holidays can be hectic for many people. You feel compelled to spend money on decorations that take hours to put up, you need to make your home spotless for visiting relatives, or you spend many frustrating hours in the car trying to make it to a relative’s home. Then you spend even more time and effort buying presents for people in crowded stores. Christmas, Hanukkah, and other winter holidays can feel more like a chore than a celebration.
A British family is working hard to remind people that you should focus your attention on your family during this time and stop worrying about decorations, gifts, and materialism. You just don’t know if this is going to be someone’s last Christmas.
The Barkers of Woking, Surrey, suffered a devastating loss two days before Christmas in 2011. Two years earlier, Rosie and Tony Barker were the parents to four rambunctious boys. That year, though, they found out that their eight-year-old son Matthias was ill. They soon found out that he had a rare prostatic tumor.
There was hope for Matthias at the time. The entire family traveled to America for proton beam therapy to kill the tumor. The boy went into remission for a few months and returned home to Surrey. However, the cancer was more ravenous than they initially thought.
“The tumor and chemotherapy were now running a race and it was becoming evident that the chemo wasn’t winning. By the end of October 2011, the tumor had become inoperable and there was no more curative treatment possible,” Rosie told Daily Mail.
Matthias’ parents knew that their son wouldn’t last long. Matthias entered Shooting Star Chase Children’s Hospice to live out the remainder of his life with Rosie sleeping at his side every night. The boy’s ability to eat and drink decreased, and he began to realize what was going to happen.
“On 28th November Matthias looked at me and said, ‘Mummy if I don’t eat or drink I will die wont I?’ whereupon I sat with him for a precious hour saying ‘yes my darling.’ He responded with ‘but I am only 10 years old’ and I said, ‘And you have given us the best 10 years of our lives,'” Rosie explained. Matthias asked his parents to give the love that they had for him to his brothers.
Matthias passed away on Dec. 23, 2011. Christmas will always be a difficult time for the family, but they came together that day and every Christmas holiday since to appreciate each other while there’s still time.
The True Meaning of Christmas
Matthias’ passing gave new meaning to the holidays for the Barkers, and they want to share that meaning with the rest of the world. They’ve come together with Mike Buonaiuto, executive director of Shape History, and Shooting Star Chase charity to create a film about putting family first during the holidays.
The short film chronicles the struggles that Rosie, Tony, and their sons went through when they lost Matthias over a year-and-a-half period, and it’s meant to rival the endearing holiday advertisements of stores like John Lewis and Sainsbury’s.
Mike Buonaiuto wanted to work on the important project because he understands that people can be suffering on the inside during these festive times because of the people they’ve lost. He said:
“Retailers are annually pumping budgets of millions into Christmas advertising and it can distract away from the true meaning of the festive period. We wanted to essentially hijack that and remind the British public that the festive period is about looking out for the most vulnerable in society and being there for your nearest and dearest.”
Rosie and Tony gave the actors real pictures of Matthias to use ― he would have been 16 this Christmas.
“The film will be hugely supportive to many people this Christmas in a similar situation to us. I truly hope this film will raise awareness about families trying to get through Christmas despite the torturous pain they may be feeling within,” Rosie said about her hopes for the project.
Do you feel that the holiday season has become too commercial? Tell us how you make memories with your family in the comments and SHARE this story!