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Tearjerker of the Day: Eight-year-old "marries" his childhood sweetheart the day before he dies.

Grab the tissue box before you read this one:

An eight-year-old boy who had set his heart on 'marrying' his school sweetheart achieved his final wish the day before he died of leukaemia.

Given only weeks to live, Reece Fleming proposed to his 'special friend' Elleanor Purgslove at a laser tag party.

After she accepted, their parents arranged a make-believe wedding at Reece's home in Mackworth, Derby. He died the next day with his family.

Reece's mother Lorraine Fleming said he told her, "I can go now" after his wish had been granted.

The 28-year-old said: ""He was so proud of her, and we were proud of them both."

Reece was diagnosed with leukaemia in July 2004, when he was aged just four.

He fought the disease for four years until May when doctors told him he had just weeks to live.

Ms Fleming, said she and his stepfather Mick Thompson had tried to help him achieve as much as possible before his death, including marrying his sweetheart.

"When we found out that we only had a few weeks with him we tried to do absolutely everything with him that we could.

"Him and Ellie had been 'special friends' for a couple of years but then they broke up.

"We said we'd have a pirate party, and Ellie came. She went to visit Reece a few times in hospital as well.

She added: "We also had a football and laser quest party, apparently that's when he proposed to her."

The pair went out to dinner in the mayor's limousine and the families organised a 'wedding', complete with rings, a stand-in vicar and a certificate.

The ceremony was carried out on July 4 and the following day Reece died at home with his family and a Macmillan nurse.

At his funeral, mourners followed a horse-drawn hearse on foot.

Ms Fleming added: "Even on the Saturday that he died, he got out of bed and walked to the sofa.

"He always tried walking, right to the end, so we thought if he walked for us then we would walk for him."


Such a sad, sweet story. I cried, partly because I know firsthand just how awful leukemia is. A friend of mine was diagnosed with leukemia at two years old and died from the disease at twelve. We went to elementary and middle school together. In fourth grade, I remember we had a party because Bobby was in remission. I had no clue what that meant. In sixth grade, when Bobby went out of remission and was out of school for quite some time (in the hospital, it turns out), returning with a completely bald head, I figured it out. He died not even a year later.

Leukemia represents 27% of all cancers that will affect people 20 years old or younger. ALL, or Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia, is the most common cancer in children 1 - 5 and 7 years old. It's estimated that in 2008, over 4,500 children will be diagnosed with leukemia. The survival rate for ALL is 91.2% for children under 5, but it's 66.1% overall for anyone over that age. The death rate for children under 14 has declined 67% over the past thirty years, but it still causes more deaths than any other cancer for children and young adults under the age of 20.

Reece Fleming's story is a tearjerker because it is so touching, so sweet. It's also sad because children like Reece have more compassion and understanding for the opposite sex than many of us adults do... and yet children like Reece won't have the chance to carry that compassion on. Why is it children can grasp concepts that are so difficult for adults to understand? Stories like this should remind us just what exactly it is that matters in life. Love is something that I think we too often take for granted.

But you know what, I'm not going to politicize this story. Please keep Reece's family in your thoughts and prayers... and remember to cherish your own family and the people you love. Tomorrow is guaranteed for no one, so make sure to appreciate every second you get with those you care about.

Hat Tip: Hot Air Headlines


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Comments (6)

This is a very sad story. I... (Below threshold)

This is a very sad story. I felt deeply as I read through it. It's also a very sad day for me as well, as my own father died on this date one year ago of a massive stroke, and it led to my mother's health only worsening, and I lost her as well as the loyal family dog within just over 90 days later, leaving a huge hole in my heart and my life. Death is very sad, There's no way around it.

It is bad enough when a person loses their life after living a long and full life. But even more heartbreaking when a young child losses their life.

It always broke my parent's heart to see all the little graves at the baby section of the cemetary of small children who died, and said something like my "Little Angel" on them. Yet there are also millions of mothers who also freely chose to end the lives of some little life through abortion as well. Which my parents could never comprehend as the loss of a small child seems so tragic and unjust. Life sometimes just isn't very fair at all, and sometimes small children are the saddest of all victims of this unfairness. More than 27,000 children will die each day of poverty, disease or starvation as well as wars such as Iraq. This all has to break the heart of God as well.

"But you know what, I'm not... (Below threshold)
Herman:

"But you know what, I'm not going to politicize this story." -- Cassy

Thank you so very much, Cassy

Yeah, we'll let Paul do it ... (Below threshold)

Yeah, we'll let Paul do it instead.

Thanks, Paul. Why, it might almost have been a simple, classic, aw-inspiring (as in "Aw, damn...") heart-wringing human interest story without your tender and considerate and relevant input.

JLawson, my views were more... (Below threshold)

JLawson, my views were more reflective of my Christian faith and religious background than anything, where the suffering of children whether through disease, poverty, starvation, war or even abortion are all confronted by religious organizations on a daily basis to help end the suffering of children of all sorts. Don't you believe that I was deeply touched by the story?

Why are many hospitals or social service organizations founded by religious groups? To work towards ending the suffering of children. And when a cure is found for a deadly illness such as leukaemia, it will likely be because of the research at some children's hospital founded by a religious organization.

JLawson, it is people like you who want to view politics into everything. When someone like a Mother Teresa or the Pope, or some Protestant religious leader condemns the evils of disease, poverty or war, or abortion, and how it impacts the lives of children, it is not for some political, but for a basic human morality reason. For example, Mr. Bush didn't mind when religious leaders such as the Pope endorsed some views he holds, but when they questioned the morality of war bringing about death to so many civilians and children, then he wanted to turn a deaf ear. I suppose when a person endorses a certain sort of grave sin, then they just don't like hearing what a moral evil it is.

Like I said, yesterday was the one year anniversary of the death of my father, and it helped to bring about the death of my mother and dog in just over 90 more days. With so much suffering I had to endure, I just had to state a few thoughts on the meaning of life and the meaning of faith to me here as well. But the death of a child, who has't even lived as full of a life seems so much more sad on so many levels. That's why this story touched me. I'm very sorry you had to politicize this very personal part of my life or question how deeply I was touched by the death of the child with Leukaemia.

Thank God for Ellie. Imagi... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

Thank God for Ellie. Imagine being able to make that kind of difference to someone.

Sometimes the best thing to... (Below threshold)

Sometimes the best thing to say is nothing at all, Paul. You seem incapable of that.




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