It was a hearbreaking sight when a 9-year-old boy stricken with cancer lived only long enough to see his baby sister. He fought terminal cancer in his short lifetime and cradled his baby sister in the hours before he died.
Bailey Cooper, of Bristol, England, had battled non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a kind of cancer that originates from the lymphatic system. In this form of cancer, the tumors form lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell. For 15 months, Bailey fought the cancer and was determined to live for as long as it took to meet his newborn baby sister. With his last breaths, he told his parents, who were already filled with remorse for their son's declining health: "You’re only allowed to cry for 20 minutes."
Rachel, his mother, gave birth to her daughter, Milie, in November and Bailey gifted his baby sister with her name. The family later said the deep love of the brother for his sister was evident when they saw Bailey cradling Milie for the first time after she was born and just before the day that he had died, on Christmas Eve.
Bailey's parents, Rachel and Lee, held his hands as he passed away, both having smiled bravely as their older son fought this battle from cancer since he was diagnosed in summer 2016. Bailey’s mother said, "We didn’t think he would last that long, but he was determined to meet Milie." She continued: "It got to the end of November, and Milie was born. He hugged her and did everything an older brother would do -- change her, wash her, sing to her."
To this, his father, Lee added: "Doctors said he was going to go before Milie was born. He didn’t. He fought, and on the way to hospital, he said we should call her Milie. But the moment after he met her, he began to taper off quickly. He was slipping away."
Although the family was aware that Bailey wouldn’t last long enough to enjoy Christmas Eve with them, they encouraged his to jot down his wish list for Christmas. His parents noticed that the gifts were chosen with his younger brother, Riley, aged 6, in mind.
Bailey was a strong kid and already knew that he wasn’t going to survive for long. He planned his own funeral, and as heartbreaking as it may sound, he wanted all the guests to be dressed as superheroes. He was adorable.
"You’re only allowed to cry for 20 minutes. You have to take care of Riley and Milie," he told his parents in their last family meeting. "He knew he was not going to be here for Christmas, but we tried to get him to put together a Christmas list."
Rachel said, "He said he didn't want to, but we encouraged him to. By 11.45am on Christmas Eve, we were by his bedside. We knew it was not going to be long. We told him 'It's time to go Bailey. Stop. The moment we said 'stop,' he took his last breath and had just the one tear come out of his eye. It was peaceful."
On January 6, hundreds of people showed up to pay their homage to Bailey, who was not only a good brother, but a good human and a good soul.