A heartbroken grandmother has opened up about losing her son to brain cancer, revealing seeing her grandson grow up to be like his father has helped her grieve.
Navar Herbert died on June 25, 2019, just a day after marrying his long-time love Maia Falwasser.
The 22-year-old had a short battle with cancer, he was diagnosed with a brain tumour eight months earlier.
His death left his family shattered. His wife and their son Kyrie moved from Queensland to New Zealand to be closer to her family.
His parents Vanessa and Cameron, who live in the Gold Coast, have been forced to watch their grandson grow up from across the ditch.
Speaking to Daily Mail Australia, Navar’s mother Vanessa said the distance has been tough.
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Little Kyrie was just one when his dad Navar Herbert died of brain tumour in June 2019 (pictured, Kyrie at the gravesite)
Maia Falwasser married Navar Herbert in an emotional ceremony in June last year (pictured) -the day before he died
‘It feels like forever since we’ve seen him. He’s very much like his father – cheeky, smart. He’s so clever.’
Kyrie, who turns two next month, buried his father on his birthday last year.
His birthday, on July 2, will be a happier occasion this year, Vanessa said. His family in New Zealand will celebrate with a dinosaur-themed party.
Kyrie was only a few months old when Navar began getting bad headaches. He was then was diagnosed with a cancerous sarcoma tumour.
The fit and healthy football player battled to survive but his condition quickly deteriorated.
His untimely death devastated his wife Maia.
His wife Maia and her son Kyrie (pictured with Navar) moved back to New Zealand earlier this year to be closer to her family
Navar Herbert, an otherwise fit and healthy Queensland-based football player, died after a short battle with a brain tumour (pictured with his son Kyrie)
Despite being surrounded by a strong support system, the past year hasn’t be easy for the young mum.
‘She’s struggling,’ Vanessa said. ‘They were together for three years. She was only 17 when they got together.
‘She thought they were going to be together forever.
‘He was built like a brick…for someone who’s that strong guy and then all of a sudden they can’t walk, they can’t talk…It’s a very hard thing for someone so young to go through.’
The couple’s young son, Kyrie, was also present at the wedding (pictured) and featured in the video with their loved ones
The past year has been a complete blur, many tears have been shed, Vanessa said.
‘I cry all the way to work, I cry all the way home. There’s songs that come on the radio that I can’t listen to because they just make me cry,’ she said.
‘He’s left a big mark on many hearts.’
Being separated from family has also made it difficult.
Vanessa said her and her husband Cameron had planned to make it back to New Zealand for the unveiling of Navar’s headstone.
After the ceremony, a group of men performed the haka (pictured) to a teary Navar, before coming up one by one to congratulate the couple on their union
Maia married her terminally ill fiance in a touching backyard wedding (pictured) days before he lost his battle with cancer
However, due to the COVID-19 restrictions they have been unable to fly over.
They’ve postponed their trip until march next year, when it should be safer to travel.
Footage of the emotional backyard wedding went viral after it was shared online last year.
Navar was assisted by his groomsmen and family to get ready for the event, as they helped put on his crisp, white button-up suit and loafers.
He was then wheeled to the event in preparation for his future wife to walk down the aisle.
Navar Herbert (pictured, right, with his partner), an otherwise fit and healthy Queensland based football player, died in June last year
Maia wiped away tears as she made her way down the aisle hand in hand with her mother, before joining Navar under the canopy.
Navar told his wife how much he loved her moments before they officially became husband and wife.
After the ceremony, a group of men performed the haka to a teary Navar, before coming up one by one to congratulate the couple on their union.
The following day Navar died.
At an emotional service at Navar’s football team’s clubhouse, Maia broke down in tears as she spoke of ‘the love of her life’.
‘You are the love of my life and father to our son, I love you with all my heart. From the first day I met you I knew I needed you,’ she said.
Nerang Bulls Rugby team paid tribute to Navar who died of a brain tumour in a touching service, which his friends shared on social media (pictured)