Devoted daughter organises premature father-daughter wedding dance for cancer-stricken dad – realising he won’t be around for her special day
This devoted daughter organised a premature father-daughter wedding dance for her cancer-stricken father after accepting he wouldn’t be around for her big day – and tragically he died less than 48 hours later.
For as long as Meredith Parnell has dreamed about the day she would get married, she always looked forward to the moment she’d get to dance with her dad, Lynn, in front of all her family and friends.
However, a heartbreaking diagnosis threatened to jeopardise her loving plans.
In 2003, while his daughter was studying in her senior year of college, Lynn, from Cornelius, North Carolina, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of prostate cancer, and it was an affliction he’d have to endure for more than a decade.
As her father’s condition began to drastically deteriorate – with the cancer metastasizing all over his body and bones – the Parnell family were told there was nothing more doctors could do, and Lynn was given just weeks to live.
Coming to terms with the idea that she’d one day have to tie the knot without her father by her side, a then-32-year-old Meredith, who was single at the time of Lynn’s prognosis, was determined not to be deprived of her dream dance – so she took matters into her own hands.
Borrowing a wedding dress from a bridal shop-owning friend, Meredith emerges through the doorway of her parent’s living room adorning a stunning white gown, which instantly reduces Lynn to tears, as he gently struggles to elevate himself from the seat of his wheelchair.
Slotting into hold, the duo squeeze one another tightly as they sway silently to John Mayer’s song “Daughters,” both noticeably overcome with emotion in the moment.
Too weak to last the duration of the song, Lynn is lowered back into his chair as Meredith spins beneath his grip, then leaning in for a final hug.
Captured on April 3, 2015 – but only just released publicly by Meredith – tragically just two days later, Lynn passed away after a 12-year battle with prostate cancer.
Now married, Meredith Kavanaugh, 35, a photographer, said: “From the moment I found out about his diagnosis a million questions ran through my head.
“Eventually my mind wandered to the day I’d get married, and the fact he had to be there for it – he had to walk me down the aisle, he had to dance with me at my wedding; he has to be okay.
“At the time I wasn’t even dating anyone, and as the cancer came back each time it was one of many worries in the back of my mind.
“I think any unmarried girl would have that thought about her father, especially when you were as close as me and my dad were.
“But since my father was battling cancer, I wasn’t sure if it [the dance] would happen, so I spontaneously decided to borrow a wedding dress.
“I don’t think he realised how special the moment would be until I walked through the door – you can see it on his face in the video.
“That moment is priceless, the whole experience is priceless to me.
“Dad rested all day in order to have the strength to dance with me, and he dance as long as he could before the strength gave out – what a gift.
“I originally planned to film the dance with him on the Sunday [April 5th] but instead, for some reason, I moved it to the Friday.
“Had I waited till the Sunday, it would have never had happened, as he passed away in the early hours of Sunday morning.”
Told the cancer had spread to his liver on May 2015, for Lynn, despite more than a decade of fighting the disease, the damage was deemed irreversible and his diagnosis was terminal.
Drastically deteriorating over the following 30 days, Lynn passed away at 2:20 am on April 5th, 2015, but he still managed to make an appearance at his daughter’s wedding, three-years later.
Solidifying a lifetime bond with her partner, Bryan Kavanaugh, on January 6, 2018, Meredith and her mother, Sue, took turns to dance with each of her brothers – Jared and Jason – to the same song, as the video of her and Lynn played in the background.
Leaving not a dry eye in the room, Meredith said: “After my father passed, all of the dad-daughter dances I photographed were always so difficult, because I no longer had mine.
“But I still had my dance and I knew I’d be able to incorporate it at my wedding in my some way and that game me indescribable strength.
“When my Dad and I were dancing, he told me how proud he was of me and how beautiful he looked – it became very much what it’d be like at my real wedding.
“Having this moment to look back on is more incredible that I could ever put into words.
“At the wedding, there were a few people unable to watch it and excused themselves because it was too emotional.
“It’s a true miracle that I was able to have this moment.”