Bailey Cooper had been diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma in 2016.
Rachel and Lee, of Bristol, U.K, told their sons Bailey and Riley that were going to be big brothers to a little girl, Millie. The news got Bailey especially excited as it was a pick-me-up for the 9-year-old who had been diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma in 2016. “When we told him, it completely lifted him. He was completely over the moon,” Bailey’s dad, Lee Cooper, 31 told PEOPLE. “He was amazing. He was adamant on being around Rachel. He’d always be cuddling her, trying to listen to the baby in her tummy. He’d sing to her. He was just anticipating meeting her. He’d read stories while resting his head on her tummy. He’d sing just so the baby would be familiar with his voice.”
Mom Rachel, 28, had Millie on November 30, 2017, and Bailey was determined to meet his baby sister. Although his health was deteriorating, he kept fighting so that he could see the little one. “He just managed to hang on, basically. How he did it, we don’t know,” Lee said of his courageous son. “He’d come into the hospital, he sat down. He was getting quite frail, but he’d come straight in as quick as he could, shuffling his feet. We had to pass Millie to him. He just sat in the chair with Millie in his arms and he wouldn’t let her go.” The youngster spent his final month tending to his baby sister. “It was amazing, but it was hard to see as well. He was completely smitten by her,” Lee said. “The short time he was with her, he would hold her every day. He’d be by her side. He fed her. He bathed her. He changed her. He sang to her every day until he physically couldn’t do it anymore.”
Bailey passed away nearly a month later on Christmas Eve of 2017. “It’s been really hard without Bailey. It’s been wonderful having Millie around. She’s been helping us deal with what’s happened. It was so hard for [Rachel], her daily routine had completely changed without him,” Lee shared.“[I miss his] presence, his cheeky banter, his jokes, the laugh, his company. It’s such a difficult time, but at the same time, you look back and we were lucky to have nine-and-a-half great years with him.” The family is determined to keep the brave little boy's spirit alive, especially for Millie, so that they can tell her everything about the love of her big brother. “We tell her about Bailey every day. We show her pictures of him. We’ve got pictures around the house of Bailey. Every time we mention Bailey’s name she points up at a picture,” he said. “She knows who he is already. Her face lights up every time she sees a picture of Bailey on our phones. We show her videos. There’s no way she’s ever not going to know who he is. We talk about him every day.” The brave boy's determination and brotherly love is a story that not only inspires his family but also the rest of the world.