The touching moment a dying grandma got to see her granddaughter as a bride when she surprised her with a visit knowing she wouldn’t survive to see her wedding, was captured by a photographer.
Bethany Boykin, 25, donned her wedding dress for Dot ‘Honey’ Beaman, 87, when she realised that Beaman would not live to see her wedding day in November.
As Boykin’s last surviving grandparent, Beaman had always held a hope that she would be a part of her special day. So Boykin enlisted the help of close friend and photographer, Taylor Dail, 27, to capture the emotional meeting.
The moving photos show the moment the great-grandmother opened her eyes to see her granddaughter at her hospital bed dressed in her wedding dress.
Boykin, an office clerk from Wilson, North Carolina, US, said: “My mum went into her room first and said ‘Bethany's here to see you’.
“Then I went in and said ‘Hey Honey, what d’you think?’
“She opened her eyes and that was her reaction in the picture.
“Her first words were ‘oh, it's beautiful!’ and just kept saying over and over how beautiful it was!”
Boykin says her grandma was keen to see every detail on the dress, including the hemline where it was altered.
“She was still in her right mind and she knew who I was and what I was doing, she just wasn’t her normal self,” says Boykin.
“She couldn't speak as loudly and it took her longer to get things out.”
Boykin had been holding on to the hope that even though her grandfather couldn’t be at her wedding, her grandma would be there.
But while she and her now-husband Blake Boykin, 26, were planning their wedding Honey suffered a minor stroke on 7 July.
“The doctors said they didn’t foresee her living much longer, and might have to go into a hospice for her end-of-life care,” Boykin explains.
“They didn’t give an estimated time at the beginning, it could have been from a week to six months, but the nurse was honest with us and said we probably had a few weeks with her.”
Realising her grandmother likely wouldn’t survive to see her November wedding day, Boykin decided to visit her in her dress to share the special moment.
“Even when I kind of knew that she wasn’t going to be at my wedding I still held on to the hope deep down inside that she would make it, but I knew on the outside that it wasn’t realistic,” she says.
“So I made the shoot our moment, and that was more than enough for me”.
Having picked up her dress early from the seamstress, Boykin asked her sister-in-law to do her hair and make-up, and organised the shoot for 14 July this year.
They visited Honey at home where she was being cared for by nurses.
Watch: Newlyweds recreate wedding for grandmother at nursing home.
Photographer Dail said, unsurprisingly, there was not a dry eye in the room on the day of the shoot.
“It was surreal to capture such a special moment like that,” she explains.
“As a photographer I see a lot of different and very unique moments, but this one was by far the best moment I have ever captured.
“Just being able to see Honey open her eyes to Bethany was so amazing - I really have no words for it.
“Everyone in the room was laughing and crying; happy tears of course.
“It was such a sweet and memorable moment that I'm so glad I got to capture.
“That day Honey had been more awake and alive than she ever had been since becoming sick.”
Sadly, however, Honey passed away on 22 July, just eight days after the photos were taken.
Boykin went on to wed on 14 November in Nashville, North Carolina, but still felt the presence of her grandmother on her big day.
“As I was talking to a co-worker and her daughter after the wedding about how much I wish she could’ve been there, they told me that they saw a duck at the beginning of the ceremony that came up really close, and near the end of the wedding it swam away never to be seen again,” she explains.
“We all three thought the same thing - that the duck was my grandmother giving us a little sign that she was there.”
Additional reporting SWNS.