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.
Going Into Remission
Soon afterward, Bailey started his chemotherapy sessions, and in February 2017, he went into remission, which gave his parents hope for the future. His condition improved to the point that he was able to resume school in Patchway, Bristol, while going for regular doctor visits and routine MRIs.
Despite the odds, Bailey told his parents he would fight hard enough to stick around until his sister’s birth.
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.
Building a Connection
Around the same time, Rachel discovered that she was pregnant, and when she and Lee broke the news to Bailey, he was thrilled. The Coopers noted that the happy news lifted their lovely boy’s low spirits and gave him something to look forward to — meeting his little sister.
Lee shared that his son became an extra special part of his mother’s pregnancy and loved staying around her all the time so that he could build a connection with his new sibling. He added:
“He’d always be cuddling her, trying to listen to the baby in her tummy. He was just anticipating meeting her. He’d read stories while resting his head on her tummy. He’d sing just so the baby would be familiar with his voice.”
He Managed to Hold On
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.
A Loving Big Brother
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 told his mom and dad:
“You’re only allowed to cry for 20 minutes. You have to take care of Riley and Millie.”
The Hardest Goodbye
When his grandma said she would happily take his place so he could spend more time with his baby sister and family, Bailey replied, “That is really selfish, Nan. You have grandchildren to take care of.” Regarding his beloved boy’s final moment, Lee recounted:
“Myself and Rachel sat by his bedside and we both knew it was time for him to go. We whispered in his ear, ‘It’s OK; we love you very much. You need to stop now. It’s time for you to go.’ At that moment he took his last breath and shed one tear.”
Keeping His Memories Alive
Rachel and Lee explained that their sweet son loved his younger siblings immensely, and while he knew he probably wouldn’t be alive till Christmas, he picked toys more suited for Riley. While Bailey was no longer with them, the couple said they would always keep his memories alive and tell Millie about her loving older brother.
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.