Mystery death robs baby boy of his beautiful mum
RHIANA Dunbar's first Christmas with her baby son Harrison was full of "light and laughter".
Already she was planning what their next Christmas could include, from presents to family photos with Santa.
Tragically, the young mum won't get to celebrate with her son this year.
On Boxing Day, Rhiana's family found she had passed away in her sleep.
The 20-year-old's shock death has rocked the family and the small township of Kabra where they've lived for 11 years.
A member of the Gracemere SES, Rhiana was well-known and beloved by much of the community.
There is no closure yet for Rhiana's family, with tests ongoing to determine the medical cause of her death.
But an outpouring of community support is helping the family cope.
Older sister Shenae yesterday told The Morning Bulletin this support had been overwhelming, with more than $27,000 donated to the family's Go Fund Me page.
"Words can't describe how thankful we are to everyone," she said.
"I feel like we could never properly thank and show our gratitude to every single person who has wanted to help out.
"We're just overwhelmed and amazed with how Rhiana has touched so many lives."
Spending much of their childhood in Gracemere, Rhiana and Shenae went to St Paul's Primary School and then The Cathedral College in Rockhampton.
The older of the two, Shenae was a role model for Rhiana.
Together the pair did dancing classes and horse riding, memories Shenae said she would always cherish.
"It was amazing to see her, when we became older, she really wanted to learn from me. We became closer," she said.
Four months ago, Rhiana gave birth to son Harrison.
He shares the same middle name as her father, who died four years ago.
Shenae said from the moment she found out she was pregnant, Rhiana hoped her baby would be a boy to carry on this family name.
"She loved him from the second she found out and she just couldn't think of anything better," Shenae said.
"She just loved the journey of motherhood.
"For me to see her change into this mature young woman was amazing.
"I was so proud of being her big sister. I was just so proud of who she was and who she's become and so thankful for bringing this little boy into our lives.
"He is the spitting image of her when she was a child."
Although Rhiana will not get to watch her son grow up, Shenae said the family were determined to make sure her memory was not forgotten and Harrison knew how much he was loved.
"It's just sad that at such a young age, he won't ever have memories of her or who she was," she said.
"We have to keep that memory alive and tell him every day how great she was.
"She adored him so much. She would do anything for him.
"She was so proud of him. It's amazing about how much more love she could give to someone else and we have to do the same for him now."
In 2014, Rhiana joined the Gracemere SES and, two months ago, she was back volunteering after giving birth.
Shenae said Rhiana was always happy to help people in need and, after qualifying for chainsaw and height work, believed she was equipped to handle any situation.
"She felt so happy that she would have been able to help anyone in need," Shenae said.
"She just loved the people that were there (with the SES) and it was like another family to her. She was just all about helping the community.
"That was just who she was.
"I'd love to be half the woman she was, to help and give."
As a teen, Rhiana had dreamed of joining the navy and was a cadet, but hadn't yet succeeded in joining.
She was planning to start re-applying in coming years.
Money raised through the Go Fund Me page will help cover the funeral costs, as well as create a fund for Harrison's future.
Shenae said the Kabra Country Hotel had been amazing in their support and was also collecting money for Harrison.
Shenae would often visit her sister and look after Harrison, just to give Rhiana some time to do her hair or make-up or relax.
"It just still feels like she's in that next room just taking some time out," she said.
"The support with family and friends is what is giving us strength to be able to move forward."
See future editions of The Bulletin for funeral details.
- To support the Dunbar family, head to gofundme.com/help-harrison-and-his-future or donate at the Kabra Country Hotel