How does a parent bear welcoming a newborn into the world, while at the same time, planning their oldest child’s funeral? In a story of heartache and bravery, a family from Bristol, England, shared the intimate moment their son passed away on Christmas Eve, after cuddling his baby sister for the last time.
Lee and Rachel Cooper said their 9-year-old son, Bailey Cooper, smiled and laughed all through his cancer treatments.
Despite the pain, young Bailey remained positive throughout his roller-coaster 15 months as a cancer patient.
In 2016, doctors diagnosed Bailey with stage 3 Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. After a series of treatments and a brief respite in remission, Bailey’s aggressive cancer returned in the fall of 2017.
Doctors told the grieving family that Bailey likely wouldn’t live to meet his baby sister, due in Nov. 2017. But Bailey fought to stay alive, and when his sister was born, he got to choose her name — Millie.
“We didn’t think he would last that long, but he was determined to meet Millie,” Rachel Cooper expressed. “It got to the end of November, and Millie was born.”
“He hugged her and did everything an older brother would do — change her, wash her, sing to her,” Rachel said. But shortly after Millie’s birth, Bailey’s strength began to fail, as he grew weaker each day.
With Christmas approaching, Bailey’s parents encouraged him to make a wish-list, even though Bailey initially didn’t want to. The items he did request, his parents said, were toys that Bailey knew his little brother Riley would enjoy the most.
It was Christmas Eve when Bailey’s parents gathered around his bedside for the last time. Bailey was slipping away, and they knew their son’s earthly suffering was about to end.
Bailey’s parents told him it was okay to stop fighting. His time had come, it was time to stop.
“The moment we said ‘stop’, he took his last breath and had just the one tear come out of his eye,” Rachel shared. “It was peaceful.”
Just weeks after their son’s death, the family is in the throes of grief, all while tending to their newborn Millie. “We are numb, but in a way also happy he is no longer in pain,” Lee Cooper explained.
With Riley and Millie to care for, Lee and Rachel are determined to carry on as Bailey instructed.
Their son didn’t want his parents to spend much time at all feeling sad, leaving the most beautiful sentiment for how they should carry on.
“He told us in our last family meeting: ‘You’re only allowed to cry for 20 minutes,” Rachel recalled. “You have to take care of Riley and Millie.”
The family has been wrapped in the loving arms of their community, who are doing what they can to honor Bailey’s life. Bailey has inspired an entire town with his brave fight, and now, his memory continues to inspire people across the world.