Real Life

My dead mum saved my daughter

oeet the very lucky five-year-old who owes her life to the grandmother she never knew

When she saw her little girl Alysha lying in a pool of blood after being struck by a car outside their home, Cherie Anania was convinced she was going to lose her only daughter. But the gorgeous five-year-old beat the odds and Cherie believes her recovery is down to the love and support of Alysha’s grandmother, Suesan Hetaraka.

The strange twist is that Suesan died eight years before Alysha was born, and there are few surviving photographs of her, none of which Alysha had ever paid much attention to. Yet when Alysha finally opened her eyes and squeezed her mum’s hand after nine days in hospital, she whispered the words Cherie will never forget: “oummy, I can see Nanny. She told me that I needed to be a good girl and to be strong.”

Alysha then went on to describe Suesan, who died of blood poisoning at only 38 years of age, in perfect detail. Cherie was even more amazed when Alysha smiled towards the corner of the hospital room and explained that her nana was looking over at her.

When Cherie (29) looked, there was nobody there. “But I could suddenly feel my mum smiling, making sure her granddaughter was okay,” she says.

Alysha was hit by the car while playing outside with her big brother D’angelo (9). Cherie was sitting inside the house with other family members when she heard D’angelo’s piercing screams. When she saw Alysha’s crumpled body and blood pouring from her head, the mum-of-two was convinced her daughter would die.

“It’s every parent’s worst nightmare to see their child in that situation,” recalls Cherie. “I rushed to my daughter and tried to keep her calm and still until the ambulance arrived. I didn’t want her to move and make her injuries worse.”

Alysha was taken to hospital in critical condition with serious head injuries, and Cherie feared that the family was about to face its third tragic death in the space of just three years. A three-year-old nephew was killed by a truck in a driveway accident three years ago. And last year, an uncle died when he was trapped in machinery at a timber yard.

“It was awful,”” Cherie says. “I honestly thought this was going to be another tragedy.”

Drifting in and out of consciousness, Alysha would mumble to her mum about someone else being in the room. It wasn’t until Alysha was well enough to explain to her mother who the mysterious presence was that Cherie felt everything was going to be okay after all.

“I told my mum that Nanny was with us, and I could see her,” says Alysha. Knowing her mother was watching over them gave Cherie a renewed sense of hope and she felt they were protected. “Before that, everything was up in the air. I was terrified for my daughter,” says Cherie.

Today, the bright pink plaster cast on Alysha’s leg and the wheelchair she is currently using to get around are the only reminders of the accident, and doctors are very happy with the chirpy youngster’s astonishing recovery. Alysha is now back at school and will have to undergo physiotherapy once her cast is removed.

The female driver of the car was not charged by police, because Alysha ran on to the busy road. Cherie says Suesan always wanted to be a grandmother, but the dream was never fulfilled in her lifetime. She now believes that her mum appearing to her daughter in a time of need means that, although Suesan died before any of her seven grandchildren were born, she is looking over them, proud and protective.

“Knowing she is still around and watching over her family is very special for all of us,” says Cherie.

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