“Mommy I love you.” Those were the final words of one of God’s strongest warriors, Nolan Scully. As his battle reached its end, the 4-year-old talked about his impending death with unshakable faith, telling his mom he’d just wait in Heaven for her. And though his time life was short, it had a huge impact on the hundreds of thousands who followed his story.
Only God could put so much love into such a tiny person. Little Nolan was bursting at the seams with it. Love beamed from this little boy’s smile, drawing hundreds of thousands of followers to his NolanStrong Facebook page.
Nolan’s family started the page when he was given his diagnosis of rhabdomyosarcoma — a rare soft-tissue cancer — at only 3 years old. The Facebook page tracked the ups and downs of his journey over the next year.
The little warrior’s amazing spirit stole the hearts of his local community, along with thousands upon thousands of strangers online.
“Every battle he’s had, he just bounced back, unbelievably,” stated Mark Bell, a family friend and Chief of the Leonardtown Volunteer Fire Department. “You knocked him down, he just came back and ran.”
Little Nolan desired to serve the community, just like his firefighter dad, Jonathan. Jonathan was the Chief of the Leonardtown Volunteer Fire Department. He stepped down once his son was given his cancer diagnosis.
The little boy really wanted to become a police officer. While in the hospital, the city’s Police Commissioner made Nolan’s dreams come to life, swearing him in as an honorary police officer. From that day on he became “Sgt. Rollin’ Nolan.” Several local fire departments did the same.
Everyone was pulling for Nolan. From strangers across the internet, to the doctors trying with all their strength to make him well. Nolan’s mom, Ruth, recalls the heartbreaking day they realized the end was near.
“We were sat down with his ENTIRE team. When his Oncologist spoke, I saw the pure pain in her eyes. She had always been honest with us and fought along side of us the whole time. But his updated CT scan showed large tumors that grew compressing his bronchial tubes and heart within four weeks of his open chest surgery. The Mestatic Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma was spreading like wild fire. She explained at this time she didn’t feel his Cancer was treatable as it had become resistant to all treatment options we had tried and the plan would be to keep him comfortable as he was deteriorating rapidly.”
Nolan’s family had been dreading this kind of an announcement all along. Ruth gathered the courage to go tell Nolan. But his reaction showed the strong faith this little angel had. Not only did Nolan have absolutely no fear of death, he told his mom he’d wait in Heaven for her!
“I sat down with him and put my head up against his and had the following conversation:
Me: Poot, it hurts to breathe doesn’t it?
Nolan: Weeeelll…. yeah.
Me: You’re in a lot of pain aren’t you baby?
Nolan: (looking down) Yeah.
Me: Poot, this Cancer stuff sucks. You don’t have to fight anymore.
Nolan: (Pure Happiness) I DONT??!! But I will for you Mommy!!
Me: No Poot!! Is that what you have been doing?? Fighting for Mommy??
Nolan: Well DUH!!
Me: Nolan Ray, what is Mommy’s job?
Nolan: To keep me SAFE! (With a big grin)
Me: Honey … I can’t do that anymore here. The only way I can keep you safe is in Heaven. (My heart shattering)
Nolan: Sooooo I’ll just go to Heaven and play until you get there! You’ll come right?
Me: Absolutely!! You can’t get rid of Mommy that easy!!
Nolan: Thank you Mommy!!! I’ll go play with Hunter and Brylee and Henry!!”
Nolan and his family spent the next few days — which would be Nolan’s final days — enjoying the time they had left.
“We laid in bed together and he sketched out how he wanted his funeral, picked his pall bearers, what he wanted people to wear, wrote down what he was leaving each of us, and even wrote down what he wanted to be remembered as… which of course was a Policeman.”
Nolan loved having his mom next to him. He always wanted to be able to see and hug her. On his last day of life, she got his permission to run away for a quick shower. No sooner than the bathroom door clicked, “he shut his eyes and went into a deep sleep, beginning the end of life passing.”
When Ruth came out of the shower, Nolan’s entire medical team was around him with tears in their eyes. He’d slipped into a coma — his lung had collapsed and his oxygen levels dropped.
Ruth wrote about those heartbreaking, yet miraculous final moments with her son:
“I ran and jumped into bed with him and put my hand on the right side of his face. Then a miracle that I will never forget happened….
My angel took a breath, opened his eyes, smiled at me and said ‘I Love You Mommy’, turned his head towards me and at 11:54 pm Sgt. Rollin Nolan Scully passed away as I was singing ‘You are My Sunshine’ in his ear.”
When Ruth told this gut-wrenching memory online, she included a side by side photo of the bathroom floor. Nolan loved his mom tremendously and used to lay on the bathmat outside the shower. His sad mom writes:
Two months. Two months since I've held you in my arms, heard how much you loved me, kissed those sweetie "pie" lips. Two…
“Now I’m the one terrified to shower. With nothing but an empty shower rug now where once a beautiful perfect little boy laid waiting for his Mommy.”
If it weren’t for Nolan’s and his family’s strong faith, the goodbye would have felt final. But Nolan knew without a shadow of a doubt that, because of the price Jesus paid for all of us, the goodbye was only a temporary one.
Now that Nolan’s incredible spirit had left earth to wait in Heaven, it was time to put his body to rest. And the whole town rallied together to give him the best possible send off!
Thousands of people came out to offer condolences. Upbeat songs that Nolan picked out himself played — like “This Little Light Of Mine.” Per Nolan’s wishes, most of the attendees wore either his favorite color (red) or a NolanStrong T-shirt.
“He wanted everyone to smile and be happy,” Diana Rogers, Nolan’s grandmother said. “So even in the end, he was not thinking of himself.”
Firefighters and police officers took turns watching over Nolan’s red casket at the service -a privilege usually reserved for officers who passed away in the line of duty. The funeral procession started at the Hollywood Volunteer Fire Department. The casket was carried outside where roughly 100 first responders stood saluting the tiny officer. Nolan’s casket was transported atop the fire truck, and he was honored with his very own End Of Watch “last call.”
“He made unbelievers believe. He brought the community together in such positive way,” his grandmother told the crowd.
To have touched so many lives shows that God had a special purpose for Nolan. And we pray God’s grace will bring tranquility to his grieving family.