WELLINGTON, New Zealand — A 3-year-old girl comforted herself with her favorite toy and ate cheese, leftover lasagna and milk for two days after her mother died unexpectedly in their New Zealand home.
The girl's uncle, Pete Silbery, told The Associated Press on Friday that Shylah Silbery managed to open the fridge and comfort herself with a teddy bear named "Possum" after Lauren Silbery, 28, died.
The family last spoke to Lauren Silbery on Oct. 19, he said. Two days later, they were worried enough to call a friend who lived near her Wellington home. The friend could see the girl inside the home, but not the mother, prompting the family to call police, Pete Silbery said.
Police coaxed Shylah to drag a coffee table to the door so she could reach the lock and unlock the door, before she told them, "Mummy won't wake up," Silbery said.
"I can only imagine her in there for that long, trying to wake Mum up as well," he said.
Shylah spent several days in a hospital recovering from dehydration and diaper rash.
"She's doing OK now. She's still bubbly," he said. "When we lowered the coffin into the grave at the cemetery, though, she pointed at it and said 'Mummy's in there.' It was pretty heartbreaking."
According to the Taranaki Daily News, the girl's grandmother said she knew Lauren Silbery was dead as soon as she walked into the house with the authorities.
"I knew exactly what had happened — mother's instinct. You can't be as close to somebody like Lauren and not know. I pushed one of the cops back. He said, 'No, don't go up there'. I pushed him aside and I got upstairs and there she was," Heather Silbery said.
Authorities are awaiting the results of an autopsy but don't believe Lauren Silbery's death was suspicious, Wellington police spokesman Victoria Davis said.
The New Zealand Herald reported that Silbery was found face down near her bed, which indicates she may have died from a stroke or a heart attack and fell out of bed.
Shylah Silbery was in the care of Child, Youth and Family, but her family was hoping to get custody, the Herald said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.