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