Bailey refused to die until he could embrace his newborn sister

Bailey Cooper

His dying promise? To watch over her from heaven.

This is the story of a little boy named Bailey Cooper, a boy from Bristol, UK, who faced his death at the age of 9 with great courage and love.

In August 2017, when doctors told Bailey’s parents that there was nothing more they could do for him in his cancer — stage 3 Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, with which he was diagnosed in 2016 — they gave their son the news with complete honesty. He cried, but shortly took it into stride. Before they knew it, he was talking about his own funeral, and his desire not to die until being able to hold his unborn sister. He faced his suffering with fortitude and hope.

His father told the New York Post, “Doctors said he was going to go before Millie was born. He didn’t. He fought and on the way to hospital, he said, ‘We should call her Millie.’” His mother gives more details: “We didn’t think he would last that long, but he was determined to meet Millie. It got to the end of November, and Millie was born. He hugged her and did everything an older brother would do – change her, wash her, sing to her,” his mother explained to the Bristol Post. In the photos that circulated around the internet, you can see his happy smile, despite the effects of his cancer and chemotherapy.

His wish fulfilled

His parents describe what happened after Millie was born. “But the moment after he met her, he began to taper off quickly. He was slipping away … Week by week, he got dramatically worse. He would be down and sleeping on the sofa a lot, and sometimes in bed unresponsive. It was difficult.”

Having lived to see Millie, he made plans for his own funeral, telling his parents, “You’re only allowed to cry for 20 minutes.” He also specified that he wanted everyone to dress up as superheroes for the occasion.

Guardian angel

“I want to stay but it’s my time to go, to become her guardian angel,” said Bailey before going to the hospital for the last time, full of gratitude and love for his baby sister.

“By 11:45 a.m. on Christmas Eve, we were by his bedside. We knew it was not going to be long. We told him ‘It’s time to go, Bailey. Stop.’ The moment we said ‘stop,’ he took his last breath and had just the one tear come out of his eye. It was peaceful,” his parents told the Bristol Post.


His parents, friends, and acquaintances went to his funeral, heeding Bailey’s wishes — that is to say, dressed as superheroes — to say a last goodbye to the real superhero of this story. Bailey was a beloved son and doting older brother who chose a mission before he died—to watch over his sister Millie from heaven.

Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.