Sharif was 2 years old when he was first diagnosed with Retinoblastoma. The cancer was first discovered on his right eye, and later spread to the left.
By the time Sharif was admitted to Rachel House for palliative care, he was 5 years old and had sadly lost his sight completely. Sharif’s oncologist referred him to Rachel House to help manage his symptoms at home, and to provide support for his mother so that they could both have quality time together for the remaining days of Sharif’s life.
Sharif was a very cheerful boy, who loved to talk to everyone around him, including Rachel House’s nurses. On one of the visits Rachel House’s nurses made to his home, Sharif begged to be taken to the beach. He said he wanted to feel the water on his hands.
Rachel House’s nurses quickly secured permission from Sharif’s oncologist for him to go on the excursion. With the help of a few volunteers, arrangements were made for this important trip to Ancol (a beach area in North Jakarta). Sharif was very excited, as were the nurses and the volunteers.
Sadly, shortly before the trip, Sharif’s condition deteriorated. The pain on his right eye became very severe, and he was readmitted to the hospital for a dose of palliative chemotherapy to relieve the pain. At the hospital, Sharif continued to plead relentlessly to be allowed to go to the beach, but of course this was no longer possible.
So Rachel House’s nurses and the volunteers engineered a solution to make Sharif’s wish come true. One of the nurses, Rina, brought a few goldfish from her own pond to the hospital in a Tupperware box. Ibu Lily, a volunteer at Rachel House, had fish-shaped pictures sewn on to a long sea-blue fabric (representing the ocean with fish) and hung them by his bed in the hospital.
Sharif was ecstatic! Every morning, as soon as he woke up, he would dip his little hand into the fish bowl to feel the fish in his hand and imagine himself on the beach. The fish and the “big blue sea” by his bed brought so much joy and smiles to Sharif, and to the nurses and the volunteers.
A few short days after, Sharif developed a very high fever that kept him firmly in bed with little energy to say hello to his fish.
One day, with his little voice Sharif whispered to his mom, “Ma, I am tired. I want to let go.”
His mother, who never left his bedside, replied, “Arif, please don’t worry about mama. Let go if you are tired. Mama will be alright.”
Sharif passed away peacefully in his mother’s arm the next day.