A heartbroken mother has opened up about losing her son who died from brain cancer a day after his wedding.
Otorohanga man Navar Herbert passed away on June 25, 2019 — 30 hours and 34 minutes after marrying his long-time love Maia Falwasser at 4pm the previous day in the Gold Coast.
The 22-year-old had a short battle with rhabdomyosarcoma, an aggressive and highly malignant form of cancer which had spread to his brain — he was diagnosed with a brain tumour eight months earlier.
One year on, his mother Vanessa opened up to the Daily Mail Australia about the struggles the family has faced after Navar's passing.
After his death, his wife and their son Kyrie moved from Queensland to New Zealand to be closer to her family.
But his parents, Vanessa and her husband Cameron, have remained in the Gold Coast, which Vanessa said has been tough.
"It feels like forever since we've seen [Kyrie]. He's very much like his father - cheeky, smart. He's so clever," she told the publisher.
Vanessa said the past year has been a blur, with many tears shed.
"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."
She added said the past year has also been hard for his wife Maia.
"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."
At one year old, Kyrie attended his father's burial on his birthday, July 2, last year.
However, this year will be a happier occasion as he will celebrate his birthday with a dinosaur-themed party with his Kiwi family, Vanessa said
Vanessa added that she and her husband Cameron had planned to travel to New Zealand for the unveiling of Navar's headstone, but because of the Covid-19 border restrictions, they haven't been able to make it over.
However, they have postponed their trip until March next year, when it should be safer to travel.
Following Navar's death, Maia posted a heartbreaking video of the couple's intimate backyard wedding ceremony.
The emotional video showed Navar being assisted by his family to get ready for the event as he sat visibly ill in an armchair.
He was then taken to the ceremony in a wheelchair, greeting his wife-to-be with: "Hello my wife, hello my baby. I love you."
Navar had signalled his intentions a week before his death when he asked to be taken to the mall.
There, he picked out an engagement ring for his partner of three years, and proposed when he got home, Vanessa told the Herald in a previous interview.
She didn't think her son had gone down on one knee — he went downhill very quickly after the proposal, losing his ability to walk and, at times, see and hear.
The community, including family, friends and those from the local rugby and rugby league clubs, had pulled together what was needed for the wedding within a few hours, for which she was grateful, Vanessa said.
"Everybody just came together. We didn't have to do a thing. In the space of three hours we had the yard decked out, we had flowers, outfits, someone brought Maia a ring for Navar. It was just amazing."
Her son was struggling, but was still able to show his feelings when his bride appeared.
"Even though he couldn't really see her he was like 'whoa'. He knew what was happening and that it was what he and Maia had wanted for a long time."
It was bittersweet for his mum — she couldn't help but think of what could've been.
"You don't like seeing your son suffering. If he could've stood and said the vows it would've been amazing, but he was in a wheelchair.
"The wedding was beautiful. It's just sad, it would've been nice if he wasn't so sick. Cancer's shit."