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When beloved mum Carol Donnan, 55, died 10 days before her son Kevin's 30th birthday, the whole family was devastated. But the thoughtful mum had planned for every eventuality, arranging for a box of presents and a card to be sent to Kevin even if she passed away.
Carol passed away less than a month after being diagnosed with stage four stomach cancer. Predicting that she wouldn't live to see Kevin reach the milestone birthday, the devoted mum carefully collected and wrapped a box of his favourite things and arranged for them to be delivered to him.
Carol, a care assistant, also bought and wrote a year's supply of birthday cards to send to relatives when she was gone.
Kevin, from Belfast, said such a thoughtful gesture was typical of his mum, who always put others before herself.
"I wasn't even thinking about my birthday. It never even entered my head. I was still mourning," Kevin says.
"I was given the box a few days after my birthday. There was my favourite aftershave, boxers, socks and some of our favourite photos together.
"She made sure it was as real and as normal as possible. She filled it with sentimental things that I can keep forever.
"I found it mind-blowing. Mum was dying but was still thinking of other people.
"I was elated that she was still thinking of me all that time. I felt huge warmth and sadness at the same time. I am so happy to have had someone like that in my life.
"It's amazing to know she was still thinking of us when she was on her deathbed. I felt so honoured."
Carol, who was married to Paul, 50, went to her GP after experiencing a loss of appetite and heartburn. After being diagnosed with incurable stomach cancer, her condition quickly deteriorated.
"It felt like we were shoved onto a rollercoaster that we didn't want to get on," says Kevin.
"She seemed very accepting of it. She had accepted her death sentence.
"For her she just wanted to make the most of the days she had left. The cancer had spread so much by the time it was spotted there were no treatment options left.
"I was terrified that something would go wrong, and she would die alone as we slept.
"When she died it was just so unexpected. I was in disbelief that it was happening to us.
"You never think anything like this will happen to you. I always thought my mum would live to 100. She was our protector and was so strong.
"I thought she was indestructible but when she died it was like she was a blade of grass that had been cut away."
Just a few days before Carol died in April last year, she planned her funeral, sorted her finances, and with the help of Kevin's sister Alice, 21, she made up the box containing a bottle of his favourite aftershave, photos and notecards as a one final birthday gift.
Since Carol's death, her family has raised more than £2,000 for Marie Curie, which provides support for cancer sufferers and their families.
Kevin and his relatives plan to spend the first anniversary of her death together peacefully remembering Carol in private.
Kevin speaks about his mum's death on his blog, which can be found here.
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