For Ben and Casey Daggett, their final hours with their 5-year-old daughter, Zoey, were captured in a heart-wrenching photograph that offers a glimpse into a moment that most parents hope they'll never experience. Zoey passed away July 4 after a nearly two-year battle with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, a type of brain tumor.
The photograph, taken with the family's permission by a nurse, showed a family with an inseparable bond, bound by love as they honored a life cut short. Ben held Zoey in his lap as Casey looked on, stroking her daughter's legs and holding the family dog close.
"We were crying, we were talking to her and telling her how much we loved her and that it's going to be okay," Casey Daggett, Zoey's mom, told ABC. "We were crying just telling her about memories."
Though the idea of sharing such an intimate moment with the world might be daunting to some, Daggett, who has maintained a Facebook page to keep friends and family members updated about Zoey's diagnosis, said it was important for her to offer a realistic picture of the family's situation.
"Ever since the beginning, I've always shared the good photos and I've always shared the bad photos," Daggett explained. "I didn't expect the photo to go viral. I had no idea that it was going to happen, but I felt that it needed to be shared...it was the love that we shared for her."
Daggett said Zoey was an active, vibrant child who would sprint everywhere she went. She enjoyed tap dancing, gymnastics and ballet and loved to explore her grandparents' dairy farm.
Though the diagnosis two years ago turned their lives upside down, the family was determined to make their remaining time with Zoey count. They worked feverishly to try and find spots for Zoey in clinical trials and even traveled to Germany for an immunotherapy program but also found time to travel as much as possible to help Zoey fulfill her bucket list items.
Now, they want to honor Zoey's zest for life and use their experiences from the past two years to help other families in similar situations.
They've renamed her Facebook page from "Zoey's Fight" to "Zoey's Light" and are in the process of starting a foundation to help other kids with terminal conditions have similar experiences.
"It's what Zoey loved: she loved people and she loved to travel, and we want to help other kids have the same adventures," Daggett said.
Though Zoey's end-of-life expenses have been covered, her parents continue to collect funds for their forthcoming foundation through their "Team Zoey" GoFundMe campaign.