"We have the gift of time, but what are we going to do with it?"
That's the question Nicole Halbert, 41, posed to her daughters when they found out that their dad, who's been living with brain cancer, only had a few months to live.
“I want to have my dance,” her daughter Kaylee, 18, said, referring to a father-daughter wedding dance.
She and her sister, Ashlee, 16, picked out their first dance song with their dad, Jason Halbert, years ago. Nicole knew how important this was to her daughters, so she took to Facebook asking friends how she could make it happen.
A friend quickly volunteered her time to execute the plan and soon, the girls received dozens of donated wedding dresses to try on, along with the services of a videographer. One of the family's friends also agreed to be the photographer for the special occasion.
It all came together on Oct. 14.
"It was wonderful," Nicole told TODAY Parents. "It was really the community that pulled together to make it happen for us. It was just a little request that my girls had."
They held the dance and photo shoot at the Olde Dobbin Station in Montgomery, Texas, and the venue even donated full use of their facilities for the day.
Jason, 51, was diagnosed with grade 4 glioblastoma multiforme, an aggressive type of brain cancer, in April. But a few weeks ago, his prognosis took a turn for the worse when MRI results showed that the cancer had spread to his spinal fluid, and he was diagnosed with leptomeningeal disease.
“We were lucky, because a lot of kids lose their parents suddenly and aren’t able to recreate a memory," Nicole explained. "We were lucky that we knew."
"Find the joy in the journey."
She said that's the perspective she wants her girls to have, and she wants them to see this time as a journey of their father's life, not a journey to his death.
Nicole adds that it was a "really weird feeling" watching her daughters dance with their father. "I went into it nervous," she said. "I wasn’t sure if it was the right thing to do."
But the minute it started, she knew it was exactly what they needed to do.
"It was heartbreaking but joyful. I hated that we had to do it, but I loved that we could do it," she said.
Nicole said she was proud of both of her daughters, as well as her husband.
"I was so proud of him because he fought through feeling miserable to do this for them," she shared. "He was not going to get to see them in a wedding gown or in that moment. So now he has kind of that image. So, it was important for him to be able to know that that's what it could be."
The Halberts hope their story inspires others who may be in similar situations to take the time to do something like they did.
"Our hope is that it inspires someone else to be able to take the time to change their perspective of something awful and make it beautiful," she explained. "Find the joy in the journey."
The girls and their mother have other plans, including getting matching sound wave tattoos of Jason saying, “I love you girls.” He’s also been making recordings and writing them letters to open and listen to on other special days in their lives. The video that they took when they staged their wedding photos will also be saved for the girls to watch on their respective wedding days.
"When you have to fit a lifetime into a few months, you make sure you get it done."