Love knows no bounds and we have come across stories that are passionate enough to overwhelm us and also make us rip our hearts out. Parents, particularly, harbor deep emotions towards their children to try their best to keep them safe, satisfied, and fulfilled.
In a series of unfortunate events, we come across the story of Andy Barnard and Poppy-Mai who got married despite a drastic age gap between them.
Who is Andy Barnard and Poppy-Mai?
Andy Barnard was a happily married man with three children and an endearing wife, Sammi, with Poppy-Mai being one of his children and Rylee and Jenson–Jay are his two sons.
Andy serves with RAF 27 squadron regiment and is based in Thetford, Norfolk, and was overjoyed to learn that Poppy-Mai was a girl and she was considered a blessing and joyful addition to their family of four.
The parents promised to give their little princess a dream wedding, but then the family came crashing down when they learned that the 16-month-old Poppy-Mai was diagnosed with brain cancer.
What went wrong with Poppy-Mai?
Poppy-Mai, a cheeky toddler stopped taking her food and drinks and was constipated with a distended tummy, and initially, their general practitioner wrote off the symptoms as the child teething and prescribed laxatives.
The mother, however, soon noticed a lump under the child’s rib cage and when the baby was observed by a different practitioner, she had been again prescribed laxatives but a stronger one this time.
But, the concerned mother drove the daughter to their local A&E and she was immediately admitted as she had started to vomit.
The child’s health kept deteriorating and it was beyond normal constipation.
An ultrasound revealed that the little girl had a mass in her stomach and was now diagnosed with a very rare and aggressive type of cancer in her kidneys and lungs, a malignant rhabdoid tumor.
The devastated mother had kept the father informed of the painful ordeal she went through over the phone as the father was serving in America then.
A CT scan also revealed that the mass on her kidney had spread and speckles were detected in the little girl’s lungs.
Her survival rate was very slim and the parents were grief-stricken beyond words as they tried to wrap their heads around the pitiable situation of the family, especially of Poppy-Mai.
She started chemotherapy but the cancer found in her brain was the last blow to the family and given the size and position of the tumor above the little girl’s right eye, surgery was out of the question.
The Brave Decision
It was arranged for the father to fly back to the UK to be with his daughter during her last moments.
The child was happy to see her father but the once-proud father was devastated in the face of such adversity.
The mother regretted their times in the gloomy hospital room as nothing was adding to the child’s improvement and the late detection of the brain cancer ate up most of the precious times that they could have spent as a family.
Poppy-Mai was back at home as her parents decided against her treatment which also comes with its painful side effects. Her parents were told she would live through only two days, and the treatment could extend her lifespan by a couple of weeks.
But, the selfless parents could not agree to subject their child through more pain. With utter shock and disbelief, the family of five proceeded with one last happy moment for the child: her dream wedding.
The dream wedding
The couple sat their sons down and broke the tragic news to them. The young minds failed to grasp the concept of death as the parents explained that their sister was soon going to be a star in heaven.
Andy’s RAF colleagues arranged a special wedding ceremony for the family.
The arrangements were made just like in any other wedding, with ribbons and balloons and one thing was missing; the happy faces.
Poppy-Mai was dressed up beautifully in her cousin’s christening gown and walked down the aisle with her heartbroken mother.
It was unfathomable for the mother to lose her child within two days and the family clung to the dearest memories as much as they could because their little angel was soon leaving them.
The mother had said, “She looked so beautiful. But nobody could say the vows that had been written because everyone was crying too much.”
The one-year-old managed to stay awake throughout the ceremony. But, she had grown to be more sleepy throughout her disease in the subsequent weeks, as she passed away in the hands of her father while her mother stroked her gently.
Many had reached out to the family in their time of distress, through the power of social media.
And the family could not be more grateful. The death of their daughter left the family distraught and in great grief, but the living must go on.
The parents have taken it upon themselves to raise awareness and educate people on child cancer as they hope the other parents would not go through the pain of losing a child.
Her parents are more than determined to raise £100,000 to build a retreat and a charity foundation to fight cancer to commemorate Poppy-Mai’s memory.