But for Elana and Carl Berry that nightmare became their reality on April 10 when their son Leo suffered a fatal asthma attack.
He was just 12 years old.
This Christmas will be their first without their little boy.
The devastated family won’t be celebrating like normal, instead they are buying all the presents Leo would have loved and sending them to children in need.
“Christmas is when family all comes together and it will just never be the same without him,” Elana, 23, and dad Carl, told The Sun Online.
“He was so happy and very bubbly and cheerful when Christmas came, and not even for the presents but to be around his family eating and just rolling around in his PJs.
“We can’t ever see any holiday without our boy as a happy time because we will always have the feeling of being incomplete and not whole.”
It was an ordinary Tuesday back in April when tragedy struck.
Elana was downstairs looking after Leo's three brothers and sisters, Robin, eight, Beau, two and Adeline, 12 months, while Carl, 44, was hoovering.
The 12-year-old, who had suffered asthma since the age of five, started to struggle to breathe and so took his medication. But it didn't help.
“All of a sudden Leo had one of his asthma attacks,” step-mum Elana told The Sun Online.
“He’d had a few before, he had problems breathing all the time and he’s had to borrow my puffer before.
“For that reason we didn’t think much of it but then it got serious to the point where he was gasping for breath.”
Desperate, Elana called 999 and Carl began gathering Leo’s things to take him to hospital.
By this time Leo’s attack was so severe he accidentally kicked Elana down the stairs as she tried to put his shoes on because he couldn’t control his reflexes as his body went into overdrive.
“He was screaming and pounding on his chest, clutching his throat as well,” Elana added.
“By the time we were ready to go my husband went to pick him up and he just went limp.”
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During this time a neighbour, who was an ex-nurse, saw the family struggling to help Leo and began CPR.
The ambulance arrived half an hour later, all the while the 999 operator was guiding them through CPR and how to help Leo.
“I was trying to empty his airways but vomit was just coming out,” Elana added.
“I knew then that he was gone.
“Before they took him out the door was the last time I saw him.
“They said to us that it doesn’t look great.
“I can’t imagine the pain he must have been through.
“He passed out really quickly but those few minutes of his attack, the pain he must have been in because he couldn’t breathe.”
Elana stayed at home to look after their other children while Carl went to the hospital.
“I wanted to be there but I couldn’t,” Elana said. “They [our other children] saw everything.
“Seeing your brother on the floor and not moving… I’m glad the youngest one won’t remember it.”
Leo, who loved gaming and Nottingham Forest football club, died a few days before his 13th birthday.
Doctors ran tests, but the cause of his asthma attack wasn’t determined.
“He died from lack of oxygen to his body,” Elana said.
“He hyperventilated so much there was CO2 all around his body and it stopped his heart, his body just couldn’t cope from the asthma attack.”
Now the heartbroken family are facing their first Christmas without their “loving, cheeky and caring” boy.
Leo, who was best man at Elana and Carl’s wedding in 2016, has left behind a lifetime of happy memories for his friends and family to remember him by.
“He was so much older and wiser than his years,” Elana said.
“He was very caring and loving, cheeky, he loved making jokes and making people happy.
“He loved his dad and I and his brothers and sisters so much. He was such a bright kid. He had lots of friends.
“I asked him what he wanted to do when he was older and he said he wanted to get married at 26 and she had to be a redhead and would have no more than five kids.
“He used to tell us that it didn’t matter what school he went to because he was going to Cambridge or Oxford anyway, he was so confident and knew what he wanted.
“I feel very privileged to have had him in my life.”
Elana is urging parents to be aware of the signs of asthma in their children so they don’t have to live through the same fate.
“I just don’t want anyone else to go through what we went through,” she added.
“It won’t bring our boy back but it can stop someone else going through it.
“The only thing that kept us going was the determination that we didn’t want anyone else to go through our heartbreak and lose their child to an asthma attack.
“We started working with Asthma UK to raise awareness about asthma and encourage people to fundraise to find a cure.”
Elana is supporting Asthma UK’s Christmas appeal, to find out more visit the website here.
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