When 2-year-old Beckett Burge was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in April 2018, his sister Aubrey had to give up gymnastics.
It sounds like a small sacrifice, but Aubrey was 3 at the time, and many kids her age would have pushed back.
“We had to put a lot of things on hold because we didn’t know what life was going to look like,” Beckett and Aubrey’s mother, Kaitlin Burge, told TODAY Parents. “It turned our whole world upside down and Aubrey never once complained.”
If Aubrey felt neglected, she never said so. She understood that Beckett was very sick and needed Mom and Dad by his side at the hospital. She also understood that Beckett — her favorite playmate — no longer had the strength to run around in the backyard.
Burge recently paid tribute to the remarkable little girl in a Facebook post that has gone viral with more than 30,000 shares. In the powerful photos that were taken in January, a rail-thin Beckett is seen leaning over a toilet while Aubrey rubs his back.
“My two kids, 15 months apart, went from playing in school and at home together to sitting in a cold hospital room together,” the 28-year-old from Princeton, Texas, wrote. ”My then 4-year-old watched her brother go from an ambulance to the ICU. She watched a dozen doctors throw a mask over his face, poke and prod him with needles, pump a dozen medications through his body, all while he laid there helplessly. She wasn’t sure what was happening. All she knew was that something was wrong with her brother, her best friend."
Anticipating backlash, Burge added, "Why did we take his sister with us and why did she see all of this at a young age? Children need support and togetherness, and should not be kept at a distance from the person who is ill."
It’s a common occurrence to find Aubrey in the bathroom with Beckett. “He prefers her to us when when he throws up,” Burge revealed. “Aubrey has always been mature and nurturing. When Beckett throws up, she’s right there with him or running to get him water. Last night, she asked if she could help me sort his medication.”
The siblings have separate bedrooms, but insist on sleeping together. Aubrey helps Beckett into his PJs and tucks him in. She brings him snacks. “If Aubrey wakes up and Beckett isn’t there, she starts crying,” Burge said. “She needs to know where he is at all times.”
Aubrey, who is now 5, started kindergarten in the fall. Beckett, 4, will hopefully return to school school next year.
"At the moment, it’s all about protecting him and keeping him in a bubble,” Burge told TODAY Parents. “Aubrey is teaching Beckett to hold a pencil and gives him pretend homework. He never learned those things because he’s been sick.”
Beckett is set to finish chemotherapy in August 2021. Burge said his prognosis is good.
Well-wishes for Beckett continue to pour in Facebook, with many sharing images of their own children supporting a sibling through an illness. As one mom wrote, “She held his hand, rubbed his head, and watched as he fought the fight of his life.”