Fresno man's heartfelt words for the loss of his baby girl born with rare condition

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Fresno resident Mike Harper is looking back on the short but beautiful life of his little girl, who passed away after a fight with a rare condition she was born with. Before Lily was born, doctors found she had Trisomy 18, a rare condition that causes organs to develop in an abnormal way.

Mike believed it was his calling in life to make sure Lily got the best care, not just because of his natural parental instinct, but also because this is his second chance at life. He was a troubled teenager, in and out of juvenile hall and on the verge of going to prison. To help set him on the right path, he spent time at Valley Teen Ranch in Madera County, a group home that helped shape him into the changed man he is today. Now a father of five, he's been forced to mature a lot, especially with decisions he's had to make with Lily, including the option to abort when they were told her quality of life wouldn't be very good, that she'd have a lot of conditions and doctor appointments.

Lily passed away last Thursday.

Mike says he and his wife Jessica are taking it one hour at a time and says his heart is broken and that he's trying his hardest to keep it together. Here's what he wrote to us about what he'll remember about Baby Lily:

"I'll remember how beautiful she was. Her smiles, the way she smelled, the love I felt when I held her in my arms. Her holding my finger so tightly with her light soft hands. Her mesmerizing blue eyes and her long lashes. The sweet cooing noises she would make, and how she impacted our lives in so many ways with her strength, her smile. She brought us closer to our Heavenly Father and helped us see life differently and how precious every moment is of every day that you have with your loved ones. She made us better people inside and out. A better mother, father, and parent. Having her on this Earth has been the biggest blessing we have had in our lives."

Mike has been scraping by, partly due to the fact that his checkered past has made it hard for him to find employment. In the past year, he became skilled in decorative and stained concrete, so he's tried to start his own business.

When we first spoke to Mike, he said he wasn't looking for handouts, just hoping to book clients in order to earn enough money to pay for Lily's treatments. For ways to help this family, contact Valley Teen Ranch through its Facebook page or visit the GoFundMe page setup to help with Lilly's funeral expenses.
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