Rachel Wolf made sure her late father James could be with her in spirit — and on video— on her wedding day.

You have to make do with the best you have. Even when it’s terminal.

In the summer of 2013, Dr. James Wolf of Auburn California had but a few months to live. He was dying of pancreatic cancer and decided to cease chemotherapy and other treatments to focus on palliative care.

Dr. Wolf described himself as unafraid of dying and confident he would always be there in spirit with his beloved family members, including his daughter Rachel, who was 25 years old at the time.

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But for Rachel, the prospect of losing her dad was almost more than she could bear. She thought of all the things she would miss sharing with her father — but then she realized the dad and daughter didn’t have to miss out on one of them.

A Plan Hatched and a Community’s Support

Rachel Wolf had always looked forward to the moment she and her dad James would share a first dance at Rachel’s wedding. During that summer, Rachel was not engaged and there were no wedding plans in the near future so, with her dad’s time growing short, Rachel decided to stage a fake wedding and dance with her father anyway.

Word got out about the charmingly heartbreaking plan and soon an outpouring of help and support began across the community.

Nearly a dozen local businesses got on board, donating everything from a wedding dress and a rental tuxedo to a DJ, a limo ride, flowers, makeup, and even a lovely gazebo where the dance could take place.

And when it did, a crowd of more than 60 people had assembled to watch and celebrate the father and daughter having their first dance.

A Beautiful Yet Tearful Moment

The moment Rachel got out of her limousine, James — overwhelmed with emotion — rushed to her and embraced his daughter, while weeping openly. Radiant in a shimmering gown, Rachel too wept, but there were plenty of smiles as well.

The father and daughter danced to the song “Cinderella” by Steven Curtis Chapman.

Looking at just a few of the lyrics of that song, it’s little wonder why Rachel chose it — consider this part of a verse and part of the chorus:

“It’s been a long day and there’s still work to do | She’s pulling at me saying, ‘Dad, I need you | There’s a ball at the castle and I’ve been invited | And I need to practice my dancin’ | Oh, please, daddy, please’ | So I will dance with Cinderella | While she is here in my arms.”

The dance was captured on video in order to be played whenever Rachel did get married in the future so that her dad could be part of his little girl’s special day.

The Wedding Day James Watched Over

Dr. James Wolf passed away in 2013, but he was still indeed a part of his daughter’s big day. That day came three years later when Rachel got married to a man named Randy Todd.

She had vowed never to watch the video until it played during her wedding reception, so when the moment came to share the dance with those assembled, Rachel saw the dance with her beloved late father for the very first time.

And just as James had intended, he was there in spirit with his little girl on her big day.