Every little girl dreams about her wedding day, complete with visions of a big beautiful white dress and, of course, the perfect man. But 9-year-old Jayla Cooper doesn't have a lifetime to wait for Mr. Right. The Southlake, TX, girl has been battling leukemia for two years, a battle that could end in just a matter of weeks.
But what Jayla does have is a groom. He's her best friend, Jose Griggs, a fellow patient at Children's Medical Center in Dallas. "He is very cute," Jayla giggled, "And I love him."
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Nine-year-old Jayla Cooper, who suffers from late-stage leukemia, married her best friend in a celebration of life and friendship. "We didn't expect to do this when she was nine years old, but she has taught us all how to love each other and to be strong," said Lisa Cooper, Jayla's mother.
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"Will you take Jose to be your friend, forever and ever?" the pastor asked a tiara-topped Jayla.
"I will," she replied.
"We didn't expect to do this when she was nine years old," said Lisa Cooper, Jayla's mom. "But she has taught us all how to love each other and to be strong." The children aren't legally married, of course. In fact, the ceremony itself celebrated their intent -- to always be friends, no matter what.
"Of course I was shocked to find out that her big request would be a wedding, but it was, so that is what she got," Tina Kirkpatrick, a planner with the catering hall, Paradise Cove, told ParentDish. Jayla organized it all, from the colors, menu (chicken enchiladas), cake and song for the father-daughter dance -- "It's Your Love" by Tim McGraw and Faith Hill. "She's already on morphine but I have never seen her look so good. She was shimmering."
As for Jose, "He's brighter, happier and more content with all that they go through in the hospital," said his father, Lawrence Griggs. "She changed that, brought it all out [and] opened up a side of him I hadn't seen."
What the Cooper's are facing in the coming weeks is what every parent hopes they'll never have to endure. But when they look back at the video of Jayla and Jose's special day, let's hope they'll find a little comfort in their daughter's smile, beaming bright on her wedding day.
Photography, catering and all the other services for the wedding were donated. Jayla's father, Jerry Cooper, is on family leave from work. If you would like to make donations to help the family, go to GRACE.