The parents of Sunshine Coast schoolboy Daniel Morcombe are preparing to say a final goodbye to their determined, strong-willed boy.
Denise Morcombe's simple words speak of the grief she carries in her heart, nine years after she last saw her determined, strong-willed and sometimes mischievous boy.
On Friday she'll finally get her wish, a wish no parent should ever have to make. To bury her son with dignity.
Nine years ago to the day, her blue-eyed, cheeky-faced boy left their Sunshine Coast home, dressed in a red t-shirt on a mission to buy Christmas presents for his family.
He never came home.
Mrs Morcombe won't speak at Friday's service for her son.
She'll leave that to his dad Bruce and older brother Dean, who are preparing to share a very personal tribute to a boy who has united so many Australians in the mission to keep children safe.
About 3000 people are expected to gather at a Sunshine Coast church to honour Daniel, who was 13 when he went missing on that Christmas shopping trip on December 7, 2003.
Denise and Bruce Morcombe say it will be a fitting tribute to their son and his short life - his loving, loyal nature, his strength, his love for animals and his talent for mischief.
Ahead of the service, the couple has shared some of their most precious memories of Daniel and his legacy.
'All of us have gained strength from Daniel,' Mr Morcombe told The Courier-Mail.
'I think the Australian public have taken and embraced that little boy because of his eyes and his smile. In every photo they pick up, there's that happy kid.
'They have always wondered what happened to that boy in the red t-shirt.'
Mrs Morcombe spoke of the last present he gave her before he disappeared.
'In Year 9, Daniel made a wooden box at school and gave it to me,' she told the newspaper.
'One day he said: 'Are you going to use it?'
'I said: 'Yes, one day I'll put some special things in it.'
'Little did I know. It's now filled with his special things.'
They include drawings, letters and a toy motocross bike.
The Morcombes are determined Friday's service should not be mired in sadness. They've asked mourners to wear a hint of red, and a smile.
But their grief is palpable.
Mr Morcombe spoke of having to choose a casket for his son.
'It's still bad preparing a funeral for an elderly parent but you know that's part of life's cycle,' he said.
'For a kid, it's not the way it should be.'
Friday's service will begin at 11am (AEST) at a church at Daniel's old school Siena Catholic College. A private burial will follow.
A committal hearing for Brett Peter Cowan, the man accused of murdering Daniel, is due to resume in February.
Witnesses have told the first part of the hearing they saw a man approaching Daniel under the Kiel Mountain Road overpass on the Sunshine Coast the day he disappeared.
Queensland Premier Campbell Newman is in Canberra for a COAG meeting but says his thoughts are with the Morcombe family.
'I wish I could be there with them today,' he told reporters.
'But I know that all Queenslanders, indeed all Australians, are thinking of them on this very sad day. They have been amazing people through this terrible ordeal, they have shown incredible stoicism.'
Police Minister Jack Dempsey will represent the Queensland government at Friday's service. Opposition police spokesman Bill Byrne will also attend.