This story originally appeared on Babble and is reprinted with permission.
Cassandra Barbour, a teenager from Virginia, was lucky enough to have two real-life fairy godmothers in her life. The 14-year-old recently lost a difficult battle with osteoscaroma, bone cancer. However, thanks to both her mom and an act of kindness from a stranger on the Internet, Cassandra's final wish -- to be buried in this gown -- came true.
Autumn Eskew Barbour, who is Cassandra's adoptive mom, provided her with safety, love, and a place to call home. She and her husband adopted Cassandra and her brother Anthony after the kids' father (Autumn's brother-in-law) passed away from cancer. They opened their home to the then 11-year-old and 15-year-old only a week after adopting a 2-week-old baby. Barbour tells Babble, "We got three kids in two weeks and became an instant family."
Image source: Autumn Eskew Barbour
After falling on some ice in February, Barbour noticed Cassandra was limping. She slipped again on the wet kitchen floor a few weeks later (she was admittedly a clumsy child), which led to a doctor's visit. Barbour recalls:
"At first they told us that she had a pulled muscle. A few weeks went by and she was still limping, so we took her back to the doctor and they did an x-ray. They said she had a mass and wanted us to go to Duke University Hospital and have an MRI and possibly a biopsy. We found out she was sick on my birthday, May 12."
Cassandra started treatment later that week, thus beginning her fight against cancer. After the diagnosis, she wasn't able to get out of the house very much. However, there was one day when she was able to get outdoors. It was on this day that Barbour brought Cassandra to "goof around" in a local Goodwill store. She noted, "I saw this dress and I said 'Cassandra, try this on.'" When the teen saw the gown, her eyes simply "lit up."
Unfortunately, Barbour wasn't able to afford it, telling us:
"She wanted it so bad, but who could afford a $100 dress? Not me. So we left the store without it. We also never had a second thought that Cassandra wasn't going to beat this battle with cancer because she was so strong and fought like crazy."
Cassandra's grandmother, Lisa Eskew, told WSET how special the dress was, saying, "She tried it on and it was just stunning on her." As Cassandra's prognosis worsened, being buried in that magical dress became her dying wish, but the family couldn't find it anywhere.
"We would find our eyes searching everywhere for the dress. Myself, I went into probably 20 Goodwills, thinking maybe I would find that dress," said Eskew.
In a scenario we're all too familiar with, Barbour was having difficulties trying to send Eskew the picture of Cassandra in the dress. She explained, "My phone kept messing up every time I would try to send it to her through Facebook Messenger. So I just posted it to Facebook and it spread like wild fire."
Image source: Autumn Eskew Barbour
From there, the family's plea to find this dress spread all over the Internet ... and that's when seamstress Karen Despot came to the family's rescue. After seeing on social media that Cassandra's last wish was to be buried in the coral gown that was nowhere to be found, Despot took it upon herself to recreate it for her. She told WSET, "She wanted to be buried in this dress. How can you not respond when you're a seamstress and you have the God-given talent to do this?"
Despot then reached out to a woman named Kristy Jones, who took it upon herself to connect her with Cassandra and her family. Despot proceeded to work on the dress for two days straight, then hand-delivered it to Cassandra. The family didn't meet the seamstress until she arrived with the gown. "She was amazing," Barbour recalls.
Despot was able to make this teen's wishes come true -- and it meant so much to Barbour and her family.
Eskew continued, "She was a princess, and she deserves a princess dress. ... It means the world to us, and it means the world to Cassandra."
While we're sure every day was a struggle for the young teen and her family, there's some comfort in knowing she had one last dream come true thanks to a special stranger who simply wanted to help.
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