Six London children pull together after parents’ deaths
After an unthinkable family tragedy, a family of six siblings found themselves without parents and with only each other to rely on.
They are 24-year-old Keegan, 15-year-old Riley, 13-year-old Carrington, 11-year-old Jackson, eight-year-old Avery, and five-year-old Nevaeh.
These brothers and sisters always played games together, reflected together and above all supported each other, but likely never thought it would be so important.
Two months ago, their mother Yvonne Strickland died of cancer, only 18 months after their father Wayne's life was claimed by the same disease.
Carrington says "I always wonder, why did this happen to us? Why both our parents? Why does this have to happen to anybody?”
It's a reality, both parents fought hard to prevent. Yvonne was featured on CTV News twice during the cancer survivors’ walk and spoke of her children.
Just four months ago she said "We are going to win this. I’m here with my family and my six kids, and we are going it for my husband too, which I lost in January 2012."
Even two days before she died, Yvonne’s kids and family were convinced she would continue to beat cancer.
But when her oldest son realized his mother would not pull through, Keegan, a software developer, promised he would step up.
"She was saddened she was leaving us. She did not want to leave us. But, I think she accepted it, knowing I was going to take care of the kids."
So, at 24, Keegan is both father and mother to his siblings, using his parents’ teachings as his guideline.
It's a challenge that allows him little time to for himself, instead he worries about his brothers and sisters, especially Avery and Carrington.
"Carrington is 13, so being a teenage girl, it's hard enough as it is – and all this as well."
To cope, Carrington keeps her parents close. She believes photos, and a ceramic art piece, spiritually tie her to her mother.
"I sometimes talk to her at night when I’m alone.”
Despite dealing with her own pain the 13-year-old finds the strength to takes on her role as mom to her young siblings.
"I am going to be with them their entire lives. We have so many pictures I’ll be showing her, and I will probably constantly talking about how amazing they were."
And the story of how much love and guidance Yvonne and Wayne gave them will live on in their six children.
Their parenting and compassion, is clear in the words Carrington has for her father and mother.
"I'm just glad she's not suffering anymore. And they are both together now, so I think that's good."
Coming up in part two: A look at those who are helping the children stay together and how they manage the challenges of daily life.