Losing a parent is hard at any age. But to lose a parental figure suddenly when you’re younger is a hard thing for any family to accept. That’s why small remembrances of a mom or dad who has passed can mean so much in the weeks, months and years following their death. Bailey Sellers expressed that sentiment in a 2017 post about her deceased father that has since gone viral.
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Sellers was just 16 when her father, Michael, was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer. At the time the Knoxville, Tennessee, student was a high school sophomore, but she dropped out to help her mother take care of her dad.
“I became home-schooled so that I could help my mom out … because he couldn’t work anymore,” Sellers told ABC News. During that time, the bond between father and daughter grew tighter. Then, he died six months to the day of his initial diagnosis. He was 56 years old.
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Three months later, Sellers received a bouquet of flowers from her late dad for her seventeenth birthday. “I loved you first… happy 17th! Love, Dad,” the card read. According to the publication, Sellers also received another letter from her dad saying he had arranged to send her flowers on her birthday every year until she turned 21.
“We were sitting on the couch — and it was about a month before he passed away — and he said he had already done it,” Sellers’ mom, Kristy, also told ABC News.
This was what his plans were. He said, ‘I’m going to do it until her 21st birthday.’ And if she’s married, ask her significant other to send her flowers in remembrance of me.
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Sellers, who graduated and went on to enroll as a psychology student at East Tennessee State University, received her final bouquet a few days before her 21st birthday in November 2017. “Bailey, This is my last love letter to you until we meet again. I do not want you to shed another tear for me, my baby girl for I am in a better place,” her dad wrote in the accompanying card.
“Be happy and live life to the fullest. I will still be with you through every milestone, just look around and there I will be. I love you Boo Boo and Happy Birthday!!!! Daddy.”
Sellers shared the story on Twitter and it went viral. “My dad passed away when I was 16 from cancer and before he died he pre-payed flowers so I could receive them every year on my birthday,” Sellers shared, along with a photo of the purple flowers on Twitter. “Well, this is my 21st birthday flowers and the last. Miss you so much daddy.”
Since then, the post has been liked more than 1.2 million times and shared around the world. News outlets, radio stations and many others picked up the heartwarming story.
“He would be very proud,” Sellers told the New York Post about the reaction to her story. “He would honestly say it was God. He’d be very proud that it touched a lot of people.”
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At the time, Sellers revealed her 21st birthday was a tough day because she always dreaded her birthdays and knew this would be the last delivery she would receive from her father. “Ever since my dad passed away I’ve hated my birthday and I dread it every year because he always made it so special,” Sellers also told The Post.
“I broke down,” she continued. “That letter was very, very awesome and sad all at the same time.”
The woman also revealed to ABC News that she’s kept all the notes her father left her, including a journal. She is thankful for having the time she did with him. “He was just an overall great person,” she added.
He was my best friend. I looked up to him so much.
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How many of us who have lost a loved one have wished we could hear from that person just one more time? By pre-paying for those flowers and writing notes, Sellers’ father made sure he could continue to make his daughter’s birthday special for the next five years. It’s the kind of foresight many of us hope to have one day if we’re even in such a situation, which is one of the reasons the story has resonated with so many people.
It makes you think about how to approach your final days if you are diagnosed with a terminal illness, at any rate. But it also makes you appreciate the loved ones who are still in our lives. As Michael Sellers wrote, it’s important to live life to the fullest. And while that means getting out there and taking risks and doing what makes us happy, it also means taking the time to be with those we love while we still can.
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If you’ve been meaning to pick up the phone and call your mom or dad, make sure you do it this week. Or if you’ve been putting off a sibling, a cousin, a friend, or someone else in your life until things settle down, maybe stop waiting and just seize the moment. After all, we never know how long we truly have with those we love. And you’ll never look back and regret the time you did spend with your loved ones in the future, once they’re no longer here.
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“We often forget time is of the essence! It never stops or slows! Cherish today! Cherish loved ones! Cherish time spent!” – Anonymous
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