When a young boy was told he had a few days to live, he only had one thing on his mind — he wanted to hang on long enough to meet his baby sister. Despite the odds, he held his little sibling in his loving embrace and stayed with her until he couldn’t do it anymore.
Rachel and Lee Cooper from Bristol, U.K., were already parents to two sons, Bailey and Riley, when they discovered they were expecting a third child. The delightful news came at an incredibly challenging period for the whole family, particularly for the couple’s older boy, Bailey.
In 2016, the Coopers saw their life drastically changing when their then-eight-year-old boy was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma. It all started when he became unwell in the summer, and after undergoing multiple tests, his parents learned that he was already in Stage Three.
Everything was going well until the family’s Easter getaway to a Devon holiday park, where Bailey’s dad, Lee, received a devastating phone call—his son had relapsed and appeared breathless and drained. As they restarted chemotherapy, the Coopers were told their boy had a 70% chance of survival.
Finally, in July 2017, the Bristol parents heaved a sigh of relief after discovering their boy was in remission. Sadly, only a month later, in August, young Bailey relapsed for a second time, and his family learned that he didn’t have much longer to live.
Although seeing their son brighten up was a tranquil respite for the Coopers, they were also concerned about his health and the devastating prognosis that had turned their world topsy-turvy. Despite the odds, Bailey told his parents he would fight hard enough to stick around until his sister’s birth. And he did.
Bailey and Riley’s baby sister arrived on November 30, 2017, and was named Millie by her loving older brother, who managed to hold on just to meet and hold her. “He just managed to hang on, basically. How he did it, we don’t know,” recalled Lee.
From the moment Bailey saw his little sister, he was smitten with her and couldn’t stop smothering her with hugs and kisses. Despite his declining health, he sat in his chair, holding Millie in his warm embrace and singing to her. Rachel said he even helped feed her, bathe her, and change her diapers.
Then, one day, he became so weak that he couldn’t do it anymore. After fighting bravely and fearlessly for almost 15 months, nine-year-old Bailey passed away in hospice care on December 24, 2017. His family said he planned his own funeral and asked everyone to wear superhero outfits. He also told his mom and dad: “You’re only allowed to cry for 20 minutes. You have to take care of Riley and Millie.”
Lee noted that they had photos of Bailey all around the house, and every time Millie heard his name, her face lit up as she pointed to one of his pictures. We are sure that Bailey will always watch over his family and smile at his baby sister from the heavens. Fly high with the angels, dear boy.