In early October, Jason and Nicole Halbert received devastating news. Jason’s cancer had become more aggressive, giving him a prognosis of just two to three months.
“Your heart stops, you can’t hear, your breath becomes shallow,” Nicole recalled on Facebook. “How were we supposed to tell our daughters?” she wondered. “How were we supposed to plan our future?”
At 51, Jason was diagnosed with grade IV Glioblastoma Multiforme, the most aggressive and deadliest form of brain cancer. In April, doctors gave the father-of-two 12 to 15 months to live. Now it looked like he’d be lucky to make it to Christmas.
“We have raised two daddy’s girls and I was about to break their hearts. Their future suddenly looked very different,” Nicole’s now-viral Facebook post continued. “The dreams they had of their daddy walking them down the aisle had come to a screeching halt.”
So, 18-year-old Kaylee made a request. She wanted to have the father-daughter dance that she would have had at her wedding. Ashlee, 16, did too. Both girls had picked out the songs they wanted to dance to with their dad long ago.
That’s when Nicole got the idea to “pre-create” their wedding dances with Jason, as something their daughters could look back on when he was gone.
Family and friends spring into action, offering up wedding dresses, hair and make-up services, you name it. Olde Dobbin Station in Montgomery, Texas, even gave them full use of their facilities. Shalonda Chaddock, a professional photographer and friend of Nicole’s, agreed to document the dances.
“I have photographed a lot of difficult shoots … but this one was by far the most difficult to photograph because I know this family personally and I have watched these girls grow up,” Chaddock, who runs Chubby Cheek Photography, told Fox News. “Having two young daughters myself, I wanted so badly to capture the perfect images for them. But, as the tears fell, I realized that these [photos] didn’t have to be perfect, they just needed them.”
The photos, which show Jason twirling and embracing his daughters and walking them down an “aisle” while the sun breaks through the clouds above, are profoundly bittersweet. Kaylee and Ashlee undoubtably treasure them forever.
“When our girls look back at this chapter, I want them to remember not a journey of death, but a journey of life,” Nicole concluded her emotional post. “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.”