Simon Langston, a British father with terminal brain cancer, has been preparing for his departure in a loving, heartbreaking way: by writing a series of letters to his 3-year-old son Alfie.
They are to be opened on various special occasions — birthdays, the day he passes his driving test, his wedding day — throughout the boy’s lifetime. “Alfie’s still a little too young to understand what is happening,” Simon’s wife Kelly tells the Daily Mail. “We both want to make sure that he knows how much his daddy loves him, and how he’ll always be watching over him.”
In June, doctors told Simon, 32, from Evesham, Worcestershire, that he had a cancerous tumor in the middle of his brain that was inoperable, giving him less than six months to live. The prognosis followed his return from a night out, when he felt dizzy and sick, and when one side of his face began to droop. As a result of a biopsy, the formerly active dad was left with limited speech and unable to walk. Then, after two weeks of radiation, he was told his blood count was too low to continue the treatment. “The doctor told us that continuing radiotherapy would not make much difference, so we both decided that he would be more comfortable at home, where I could look after him, and where he would be able to spend as much time with Alfie as possible,” Kelly says, adding that they have frozen Simon’s sperm so that she can one day have another child through IVF.
In the time since his diagnosis, Simon has renewed his wedding vows with Kelly, hosting a special cancer fund-raising party on Halloween complete with spooky wedding wear. He’s also spent much time writing to future versions of Alfie.
Simon’s efforts echo those of another terminally ill father, Mitchell Whisenhunt of Longview, Texas, who died in late October of Marfan syndrome, a connective-tissue disorder. Shortly thereafter, his wife discovered a collection of letters he’d written to their 1-year-old daughter, meant to be open on birthdays all the way through her 18th. And last year, 12-year-old Taylor Smith of Tennessee died of complications from pneumonia, leaving behind a heart-wrenching collection of letters she had written to her future self.
As for the Langstons, they continue to hope that a memorable family holiday will add to the legacy of Simon’s letters. “We are sincerely hoping that he makes it to Christmas, but for now I’m grateful to have him at home, where I can look after him and make him feel comfortable,” Kelly says. “Simon really has been given the worst diagnosis, but there’s no point being sad. I just feel so lucky that we get time to say goodbye.”