Watch: Student’s haunting last video
A Beenleigh State High School student, who died last week after a two-year battle with brain cancer, left his family and friends a poignant Christmas message they will never forget.
Beenleigh High year 11 student Nehemiah Faleolo made a profound video to farewell his family and friends before the summer Christmas holidays.
But little did they know, it would be his final goodbye as two weeks later, the 17-year-old would succumb to the disease.
"Not long to go before summer holidays start but before we go, Beenleigh State High, stay strong to the end, do your best in exams, make the most of all opportunities - I miss you guys, hope to see you soon."
More than 1000 people gathered on the school oval this week to pay their respects and form a guard of honour for Nehemiah, who had made a name for himself across the school as a wise, calm and respected student.
His friends performed a haka dance and read out tributes of his essays as the hearse drove him out of his school for the last time.
It was not just students who poured out their grief.
Teachers at the school also comforted Nehemiah's mother, Ruth Faleolo, a long-time teacher at the school with a PhD in Social Sciences, who this year started teaching Beenleigh's Special Education program.
His father, Thom, also a teacher and his siblings walked behind the hearse on his final journey through the school on Friday, December 4 before he was laid to rest at the Beenleigh cemetery on Yugambeh land.
"He was so wise and must have realised well before any of us that his time was coming to an end when he made that video," Mrs Faleolo said.
"It was supposed to be a message to those who were finishing exams - but instead it was his final goodbye to his friends."
Mrs Faleolo said her son's dying wishes were to excel in his year 11 assessments, to return to school and to be buried in the Beenleigh cemetery close to home and his friends in Eagleby.
In a sad twist of fate, his year 11 report card arrived a week after his death, showing he had three As and two Bs.
"He achieved all of those wishes," his mother said.
"He finished his last assignment before it was due - even though he had lost movement in his right hand and had lost some of his short-term memory, he continued to hand in his work.
"A colleague and English teacher at Beenleigh High recently read his English assignment and said that it was of university-level standard, which made him very happy.
"We brought him back to school for the guard of honour, which was uplifting and inspiring and unusually quiet, considering many of these students can naturally be noisy, but I could see they were being very respectful of my son and the loss."
"He said: 'I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith'," she said.
His year 11 co-ordinator teacher Steph Sudmalis said Nehemiah was adamant he would complete his senior assessment.
"His goal of finalising his work to the highest standard was a trait that he carried with him throughout his life," she said.
"He chose not to tell his friends of his final diagnosis, because he wanted them to also embody the school value of 'we achieve' during their exams."
As a proud Maroons supporter, he also enjoyed seeing Queensland win the State of Origin series and even exchanged emails with the school's Deputy Principal George Bartlett about the great win.
Family, teachers and friends flocked to his bedside during his final days, drawn by the video he made to say Happy Christmas.
Principal Matt O'Hanlon said the Beenleigh State High Community supported the family and his mother said she planned to publish a series of excerpts from his diary which shed light on his feelings and musings about the world.
Mr O'Hanlon said Nehemiah was an outstanding student who pushed himself to complete all of his year 11 work to a very high level.
"His many friends at school will miss him. Our thoughts go out to Ruth, Thom and the family."
Nehemiah died at home in Beenleigh on December 1 with his family at his bedside.
Originally published as Watch: Student's haunting last video