Former Bosmansdam High School pupil Mish-ka Petersen was laid to rest on Saturday after a two-year battle with leukaemia.
Diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia in September 2015, Mish-ka died on Thursday September 14.
The 20-year-old from Richwood has left a gaping hole in the lives of his parents, grandparents, siblings and the scores of friends he made during his short life.
About 400 people gathered at Bosmansdam High School hall on Saturday for Mish-ka’s funeral service.
His mother, Natasha Fourie, said they had planned to hold the service at her father’s church but soon realised it would not be big enough.
Ms Fourie said the school had packed out 400 chairs, which she thought was too much, but by the time the service started at 10am, they had to pack out more chairs.
She said the high turnout was testament to her eldest son’s lovable character.
“He made friends easily. He was the kind of child that wanted everyone to be happy. One of his friends said he was the bubbles in champagne, and that’s exactly who he was,” said Ms Fourie.
Mish-ka was diagnosed with leukaemia during his matric year, but he persevered with his studies despite being bitterly ill.
He wrote four of his subjects in hospital and managed to pass with good marks, said his mother.
During the last two years he endured chemotherapy, a bone marrow transplant and numerous visits to hospital.
Ms Fourie said he had never shown his pain to the world but she “knew better”, as did his best friend, Chasney Jasson.
Chasney described Mish-ka as a brother who had pushed him and believed in him. Knowing Mish-ka was now free of pain made his death a bit easier to swallow but it still felt like he was “swallowing glass”.
Mish-ka had been very weak and unresponsive the day before he died, said his mother.
“He kept saying, ‘Mom, I love you.’ And he took my father’s hand and said, ‘Oupa, pray for me.’ There was an urgency in his voice. After my dad prayed, I kissed him on his forehead and told him I loved him. He tried to say it back, but he couldn’t form the words.
“He never said anything again,” said Ms Fourie.
Mish-ka lapsed into a semi-coma and was taken to N1 City hospital, where died at 3.05am.
Ms Fourie said although the doctors had prepared her for all the steps leading up to her son’s death, for her it had still happened very suddenly.
“I miss him. I have my moments when I just sit and cry,” she said.