Oh, my heart.
When Jason Halbert got the news that he had an incurable, inoperable brain tumor, his family's life took a dramatic shift. He was initially given a life expectancy of 12-15 months, but after the cancer leaked into his cerebral spinal fluid, that prognosis was shortened to 2-3 months. With two grown daughters, the Halberts had looked forward to a future that was suddenly and forever changed.
Jason's wife Nicole shared the story of telling their daughters about his diagnoses and prognosis on Facebook, along with the touching decision that came after.
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In the now viral post, she wrote:
"Jason has always been the most attentive father. He's never missed any of their events. We have raised two daddy's girls and I was about to break their hearts. Their future suddenly looked very different. The dreams they had of their daddy walking them down the aisle had come to a screeching halt. The certain songs they've played hundreds of times while imagining themselves swirling around a dance floor, in the perfect dress, in the arms of the first man they ever loved, suddenly took on new meaning. In a quiet voice, holding back tears, they asked if they could have "their" dance. Yes, YES! You will have your dance! We create memories, we recreate them, why not PRE-create a moment?"
Friends and acquaintances immediately rallied to make those memories happen. People offered wedding dresses, hair and makeup, a facility, videography, and photography, without hesitation. "These people didn't just make it happen," Halbert wrote, "They made it perfect."
"The day of the dance, the sun was shining through gray rain clouds, sunlight mixing with rain showers. I realized, afterwards, how appropriate the weather was for this day. That is what we've been doing through this whole journey, trying to find the light among the darkness, the sunshine in the rain. There was laughter and tears but in the end, there was an everlasting memory. There's a quote I love 'Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it's learning to dance in the rain.' Our girls and their daddy did just that."
The photos are gorgeous, and the love between this daddy and his daughters is palpable. Thousands of people have shared the post with comments about how much it touched them, what a good reminder it is to seize the moments we have with our loved ones while they're here with us, and how much these young women will cherish those photos the rest of their lives.
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Nicole shared the reason the family decided to share the photo shoot with the world, instead of keeping it as a special, private moment. She also requested that people research Glioblastoma Multiforme and Leptomeningeal Disease, the tumor and condition that Jason was diagnosed with.
"We wondered if sharing this private moment was appropriate and although we are keeping the video tucked away for safe keeping until the girls' wedding days, we felt it was necessary to share a few of the photos. We wanted to share for a couple of reasons. One, when you are faced with having to fit a lifetime of memories into a few months, you pray hard and you lean into the people who love you. So many of you have been there for us through this journey and we wanted to share this moment with you. Two, there may be other young girls and boys out there that are faced with losing a parent, maybe struggling with the loss of what's to come. Maybe this story can strike an idea for someone else to PRE-create their moments, so feel free to share it.
Please SHARE it! It was because someone shared a similar story that planted this seed, and we will forever be grateful for that, so we'd like to pay it forward. And the last and most important reason we decided to share is to ask that anyone reading this researches Glioblastoma Multiforme and Leptomeningeal Disease. They are both extremely rare and get very little attention. Those living with this beast need more research, more funding, and we need a CURE! Having more people fighting along side those of us in this war is what will create much needed change."
Finally, Nicole reminded us all that it's how we live our lives that matters more than how long.
"When our girls look back at this chapter, I want them to remember not a journey of death, but a journey of life. Take the trip, snap the pictures, eat dessert first, go see your friends, play games with your kids, make your days matter! When you live your life surrounded by kindness and love, you have lived your life well."
A heart-wrenchingly beautiful reminder for us all.