Paul Cowie, 29, was told he was finally ill with brain cancer just one month before his son Carter was born, and now the little boy is calling his father in his sleep, his mother says.
Image: Liverpool Echo / Carla Rawsthorne)
The infant son of a man who died before his first Christmas calls for “dad” in his sleep, his devastated mom said.
Paul Cowie, 29, had previously battled an 11-hour operation to remove tumors from his brain, and after an IVF fight with wife Carla the couple was expecting their first child – son Carter.
But just a month before their “miracle baby” was born, Paul was told that his cancer had returned and was final.
While battling the cancer, Paul and Carla welcomed their little boy, but just eight months later on November 26, 2019, Paul died.
Carter is now two years old, and Carla did her best to raise the little boy knowing who Dad is and what an incredible man he was.
Although he has no memories of the dad who loved him so much, Carter calls him in his sleep.
She told the Liverpool Echo: “It’s absolutely heartbreaking. Some days, I feel like I don’t have time to breathe, because my little boy, he’s two years old. He’s a baby now.
“It’s just awful. He was my soulmate. He was my everything.
“And the struggle to live without him is just heartbreaking to think that cancer could take a young life so quickly.”
The couple had to do what they had been waiting for all their lives when they got married on August 24 at the Village Hotel in Whiston.
They booked the wedding the day they recorded Carter’s birth, to make sure it happened on time.
Speaking of their special day, she said, “It was a beautiful day. It had been raining all week, and that particular day, the sun was shining.
“We had a very pleasant reception.”
They went to Turkey after the wedding, but three days later, “he couldn’t walk”.
She added “There was a tumor on his spine. He had spinal cord compressions from a tumor on his spine. So he was in bed from there on.”
Carla said: “I was absolutely destroyed. Absolutely destroyed.
Liverpool Echo / Carla Rawsthorne)
“Because he was an avid football player, and to see him like that – he didn’t really want to be like that.
“He just wanted to walk. He just wanted to get better, for his son.
“But unfortunately, the cancer took over.”
But Carla wants Paul to be remembered for more than cancer.
She said: “I don’t want him to be remembered as the boy who died of cancer.
“I want him to be remembered as Paul and the boy who would do anything for anyone.
“He was a remarkable dad. He leaves behind his mom, his little brother, his dad, his child. We all loved him.
“It’s not really the best time of year either. It’s approaching Christmas, and he’s going to miss Carter’s milestones.
“All he wanted to do was watch his son grow up.”
Carla struggles to get out of bed a few mornings, but she keeps going, driven by a desire to be there for Carter and keep Paul’s memory alive.
In a way, Paul’s memory lives on in Carter.
His mother: have a picture of Carter in Paul’s age. He looks exactly like him.
“He has Paul’s humorous and funny ways. He laughs at anything. He’s just Paul in every way.
“I feel like I have a piece of Paul growing up with me.”
Carter knows his dad isn’t around anymore, but at two years old, he’s still too young to fully understand why.
“We have pictures all over the house and he says,‘ It’s my dad! ’, And he yells‘ dad ’in his sleep,” she said.
“I think when he gets older, I’ll explain to Carter that this is his dad and he didn’t really want to leave him.”
She also hopes she will lead Carter to see the world as his father Paul did in his 29 years on this earth, traveling with his mother and child, and visiting Canada and the United States across the Atlantic.
Carla wants Carter to “see places Paul has seen.”
She hopes other families won’t have to suffer this tragedy like they do, and she encourages people to press for tests and scans if they feel something is wrong.
Paul’s symptoms were originally dismissed as a normal headache before scans revealed cancerous growth.
Carla said: “I just want to make people aware of who has tumor symptoms and what to look out for, and really get to know their own body, because if something doesn’t feel right, it’s usually not appropriate.”