MomZette

Little Boy Bids Farewell at His Dying Sister’s Bedside

As a dad speaks of faith through tragedy, eternal bond of siblings shines through family's sadness

A photo of a little boy, Jackson Sooter, age six, saying a last farewell to his dying sister as she lay in her hospital bed has gone viral. In the photo, the little sister is grasping her brother’s arm, and her eyes are closed.

Adalynne “Addy” Sooter, just four years old, was suffering from an aggressive tumor, and all treatments had failed, sadly.

“A little boy should not have to say goodbye to his partner in crime, his playmate, his best friend, his little sister,” wrote dad Matt Sooter of Rogers, Arkansas, June 2 on his Facebook page, “Hope for Addy Joy — Fighting DIPG.”

“This isn’t how it’s supposed to be,” he added. “But this is the broken world we live in. Addy’s symptoms have progressed rapidly over the past day and a half. Yesterday she woke up as her spunky playful self. While we still see short instances of our girl, she can no longer eat or swallow without difficulty, and she’s sleeping most of the time now and we’ve admitted her into inpatient care. Most likely she doesn’t have much time left.”

Sooter added, “For our family and close friends, if you feel you need to tell her goodbye we recommend you contact us and do so soon. Pray for Jackson. He doesn’t want to leave her side, and we won’t make him. Pray for us. That we have the right words and can make the necessary arrangements in time. Always remember: God is in this situation, He’s up to something, and He’s up to something GOOD.”

Little Addy was diagnosed in 2016 with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), Yahoo Lifestyle reported, an aggressive tumor at the base of the brain that is difficult to treat.

The brave child underwent experimental treatment in Monterrey, Mexico, last year — trips Sooter told People magazine would last 12 days at a time. The family spent over $200,000 in medical expenses, the publication also noted.

The family was open about their young daughter’s battle from the beginning. “The fact that she’s survived over 18 months now is purely incredible,” Sooter told People. “Her doctors have grown to love her and have been amazed by how well she has done. While we’re doing everything we can to change the outcome, we don’t expect to win this fight. We haven’t given up, but it seems we are losing the war.”

Sooter shared a devastating update to Facebook on May 10.

“I know you’ve all been waiting for MRI results. I wish I had better news,” he wrote. “Addy’s MRI shows that her tumor has spread. It has moved down the brain stem into the cerebellum, which is likely what caused the need for her shunt. There is also a large mass in her spine that is placing pressure on her spinal cord … Our doctors here have no options for us, and it seems the treatment in Mexico is no longer working.”

He continued, “We’re out of options. We are shattered. Everything within us screams to keep fighting, but we’ve run out of weapons … Addy is losing ground quickly. We don’t know how much time we have her for, so we’re going to make the most of it. Thank you for your prayers.”

Then — heartbreak. Addy lost her battle on June 3. “She wasn’t in any pain at the end,” her father wrote on Facebook. “For those who were wishing to say goodbye, I’m so sorry. This all happened so much faster than we expected, but that in itself is a blessing because she suffered so little at the end. We will let you all know once services are scheduled. Thank you for being a part of our little girl’s miracle. While this is only goodbye for now, we miss our baby girl terribly.”

One mom who has observed the pain siblings go through knows the young brother — as much pain as he’s surely experiencing right now — will always have warm memories of his beloved sister.

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“My dear friend lost a little girl in a sudden accident years ago, and her other children did eventually heal,” the 53-year-old Gainesville, Florida, woman told LifeZette. “The kids, as they matured, often talked about her, and their grief turned to fond memory as they grew older. But only time can do that; there is no magic cure but to just go through the grief. They eventually came to think of their sister as their angel.”

Related: ‘Darkness Comes, but So Does the Morning’

Sooter’s Facebook post with the touching photo has been shared some 1,500 times and has hundreds of comments, including one directed at the grieving older brother.

“Hang in there, Jackson!” the Facebook commenter wrote. “I was in the exact same position 23 years ago. It will get easier, buddy! Take comfort in knowing she is no longer sick and don’t worry about not being able to protect her as a big brother. The Lord has that under control until [you’re] reunited in heaven.”

“My prayers are with the whole family! You ALL will be reunited someday. God bless you all!”

“She will never be forgotten!” he continued. “But still carry on with your life and enjoy it! Because she would want you to, and she is having the time of her life waiting for you in heaven! That is something that took me years to understand! It’s ok for YOU to still enjoy your life! My prayers are with the whole family! You ALL will be reunited someday. God bless you all!”

Deirdre Reilly is a senior editor with LifeZette. Follow her on Twitter.

(photo credit, homepage and article images: Hope for Addy Joy, Facebook)

meet the author

Deirdre Reilly is a senior editor for LifeZette.