When Jason Halbert learned he had just weeks to live after his doctors found that his cancer had spread significantly into his spine, his family was suddenly faced with trying to figure out how they wanted to spend their last few weeks together.
His teenage daughters Ashlee, 16, and Kaylee, 19, both brought up their father-daughter wedding dance, which they were now going to miss out on when they eventually get married. So their mom, Nicole, set about making that happen.
“These girls have had this song picked out and have had their weddings planned since they were just 7 years old. This has been something my oldest has talked about and wanted her whole childhood — she’s a little romantic and a daddy’s girl and the thought of all the things she wouldn’t get to do, like dance with her daddy at her wedding, I think that’s what bothers her the most. Kaylee knows her wedding is years down the road and the chances of her father being here for it are slim to none,” Nicole tells Good Morning America on Friday (Nov. 15).
She adds that her “initial thought” was that they could “just do it in the living room,” but the family reached out to their community in and around Houston, Texas, and were touched to discover that many people wanted to make this a truly special experience for the Halbert family.
People volunteered to do hair, makeup, make floral arrangements. Nicole says they were able to get a photographer, a videographer, a wedding venue, several donated wedding dresses to choose from and their first-grade teacher even created their bouquets.
So on Oct. 14, each daughter danced with their father, which was captured on video and in still photos. Each of them also has a video message that Jason taped privately and which will be shared publicly on their future wedding days.
“I was so happy that I got to do my dance and he got to see that image of me in a wedding dress,” says Kaylee, “but having done it at 18-years-old and nowhere near my real wedding day felt weird. I hated that we had to do it but was grateful that we got to.”
Nicole adds, “I think it’s exactly what they needed,” Nicole added. “During the dances, the tears came and it was tough but I tried really hard to engrain it in my mind to remember it later. I had to make sure he was doing okay — I’m being caretaker and mom all at the same time — it was just tragically beautiful.”
Jason gave each daughter a blue topaz anklet for their “something blue” to serve as a reminder that he’ll always be with them. And they were able to surprise him a little — he didn’t know that they had found actual wedding dresses to wear.
“Jason said his favorite part was when the girls came out and surprised him looking like brides,” says Nicole. “He will always have that vision and moment with him forever.”
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