Weddings — though joyous affairs — can be the hardest days if you’re missing a loved one who has passed away.
Which is why one dad, James Jeynes, wasn’t going to let his wedding come and go without the most important person in attendance — his son.
Lewis is just 13 but suffers from a rare terminal disease, reportedly a variant of Batten disease; doctors didn’t expect him to live beyond the age of 12.
And since he may not be here for much longer, James, who is due to tie the knot with his second wife, Emma Starkey, next year in Portugal, decided to hold a “wedding” early so Lewis could be there. Not just to join them, but to be his dad’s best man.
Jeynes and his ex-wife, Samantha Tolmie, split in 2008 when Lewis was just 4. Lewis was diagnosed with the disease when he was 2 and had up until then developed normally. According to Jeynes, Lewis used to walk and talk, chase the cat around the house, and cheerfully greet everyone.
But one day he began limping and steadily lost use of his legs and arms, until he couldn’t swallow. Now Lewis relies on machinery and caretakers to aid him.
“Lewis can’t travel, so we wanted to make sure he had a chance to watch us get married,” Jeynes explained.
For that reason, the special ceremony will be held in Lewis’s mom’s garden.
“We really want to share the day with Lewis because the reality is he probably won’t be here next year. We didn’t want to risk waiting,” Jeynes said.
And even though it’s James and Emma’s wedding, James says it’ll definitely be “Lewis’s day.” “He’s going to be my best man and that’s what it’s all about. We love him so much. It’s not about his illness at all. We want him to be right at the heart of our wedding. My fiancée’s 6-year-old daughter, Poppy, is a bridesmaid and Lewis’s mum will make a speech from him, and he’ll help carry the rings.”
Tolmie, Lewis’s mom, said: “James and Emma really want Lewis to be there, but he is not going to be able to be there next year — that is why they’re having wedding part one.”
“He is too ill to be able to talk about it, but he adores everyone, and he will really enjoy this. You can’t help but love Lewis. He’s adorable. He is cheeky and has the most wonderful smile,” she said. “We’re so happy that we can do this for him.”
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