Facebook donations fund wedding

By Julia Proverbs

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Two months after losing their little girl, Sativa, to cancer, Sheree Roose and Tim Eagle have something to look forward to.

The Tauranga couple are getting married and going on a three-day cruise, after being inundated with offers of help from around the world.

Sativa Eagle, 2, died at home on October 3, having captured the hearts of thousands.

Her journey was courageously charted by Ms Roose on Facebook, amassing more than 6000 "likes", and now those who followed Sativa's story want to give her parents the wedding they could not have when she was alive.

"Some are friends and family but most I don't know," Ms Roose said.

"I am surprised, overwhelmed, grateful. Lots of emotions."

Mr Eagle proposed soon after Sativa and her twin sister, Indee, were born on September 2, 2010, and the couple hoped to marry the following October.

But their plans were put on hold when in January 2011 Sativa was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

"Quite a few people offered, when we found out she was dying, to throw a wedding so she could be part of it, but we didn't want people to say we were using our dying child to get a free wedding. We also didn't know how Sativa was going to be. It was too unpredictable, so we said no."

Ms Roose said people started approaching them again after the family featured in an article in New Idea magazine last month, in which they said they were planning their wedding.

"It was probably a year or two away," Ms Roose said.

But, with the kindness of strangers, they have been able to set a date much sooner - May 16.

It began with donations of a cake, make-up, photography and a heavily discounted wedding dress, and snowballed from there.

When Ms Roose posted her thanks on Facebook, more people came to the fore, including the staff at the Shortland Street branch of Flight Centre in Auckland, who donated the $400 deposit needed for a $1300 cruise.

Further donations are expected to cover the balance of the three-day cruise.

But Ms Roose wanted to make it clear the donations were unsolicited, after receiving criticism from some Facebook followers.

"We didn't ask for anything ... but I'm not going to say no to people's generosity. I'm sorry for upsetting people, that's why we said no in the past. We don't want people to think we are asking to give to us. We don't want to feel like a charity," she said.

"We don't like being portrayed as bad people because we try to be the best people we can be."

The couple will be married at their church, Greerton Bible Church, where Sativa's funeral was held.

"To start nice memories," Ms Roose explained.

"I said it could be quite hard and he (Tim) said it could be quite good too."

Without giving too much away, Indee said her mother's dress was "perfect".

"I want to have a tiara and everything ... princessy, go over the top," Ms Roose said.

Tim and his son Bailey, 4, will wear white suits and Indee will wear a white dress with a purple sash, Sativa's favourite colour. The bridesmaids will also wear purple.

"I'm so excited," Ms Roose said.

"It's going to be an amazing day, but it's also going to be a hard day. So are many others ... Christmas, birthdays, Mother's Day and some days in between," Ms Roose said.

The family moved house two weeks ago because living in the shadow of Sativa's death was too much to bear.

Ms Roose and Mr Eagle had been sleeping in the lounge because it was too painful to sleep in their room, where Sativa died and where she lay in her casket lay for three days after.

"There were too many memories and not good memories. That's about all we had in that house. We were only there about four months and most of that time she was quite sick."

They hope to build happier memories in their new house, and planning a wedding is the start.

"We're getting there. We're starting to get our lives back together. We have our days, just not as many as before."

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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