A grieving mother who lost eldest son to cancer five months before her wedding has detailed the emotional moment her mother’s living room was transformed into a bridal shop just two days before her nuptials.
On Friday night’s episode of the TLC reality series Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta, Bridals by Lori owner Lori Allen and fashion director Monte Durham take their show on the road as they plan a surprise visit to Anna Bozman Thompson, a mother from Marietta, Georgia, whose son Lake died of Acute Myeloid Leukemia in May, just a few weeks before his ninth birthday.
And while Anna said she was completely shocked and moved by the touching gesture, she told Daily Mail Online that she felt like it was a sign that Lake was giving her his blessing to wed her longtime boyfriend Travis Thompson.
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Touching moment: Bridals by Lori owner Lori Allen and fashion director Monte Durham surprise Anna Bozman Thompson, a mother who lost her eldest son cancer, on Friday’s Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta
‘They just seriously made my day,’ Anna said of the surprise. ‘I mean I know that I would have had a wonderful day, a wonderful wedding before, but I just felt like them coming to my house… I felt like it was Lake, like him saying it was OK.
‘That dress made everything fall into place I guess and just kind of made the day better than it probably would have been just because I felt like Lake had given me that sign.’
Anna, who married Travis during a small ceremony in October, made international news in November when she shared an image from their nuptials featuring the newlyweds and their children – including a faint image of Lake next to Travis.
The mother explained that she posted the stunning photo created by photographer Brandy Angel on Lake’s Facebook prayer page because she wanted to share it with those who followed his journey for the past three years. However, she had no idea it was going to take the internet by storm.
‘After that happened I was like that is so Lake,’ she said. ‘He just had this big personality.’
Top secret: Anna’s mother (L) secret worked with Monte and and Lori to pull off the surprise just two days before her daughter’s wedding to her longtime boyfriend Travis Thompson
Amazing transformation: The two bridal experts, who were given Anna’s measurements beforehand, turned her mother’s living room into a bridal shop
Anna used to share on Lake’s Facebook page that she was afraid people would forget about Lake and his story as she worked to bring awareness to childhood cancer.
‘I felt like it was him just like, “I’m here. No one is going to forget me.”‘
Anna explained that Say Yes to the Dress had first contacted the Rally Foundation, an Atlanta-based non-profit that raises funds and awareness for childhood cancer research, looking for a family who was planning a wedding. Lake was a ‘Rally kid’, and even though he had already passed away, the organization mentioned Anna and her story.
And while she ended up doing a FaceTime interview with the show two months before her wedding, she didn’t think anything of it because she never heard from them again. However, what she didn’t know was that the show was working with her mother to surprise her two days before her wedding.
‘I pulled up to my mom’s house like I normally would, and when I opened the door Monte and Lori were standing there with a bunch of cameras, and they had set my mom’s house up like a bridal shop,’ she explained.
Unbelievable: Anna said she was shocked when Monte and Lori answered the door to her mother’s house
Mixed emotions: Anna, who is pictured with her two-year-old daughter Cambree, said it was a bittersweet moment because as happy as she was, she couldn’t help but wish that Lake was there to see it
Anna said she was had no idea they were planning this and was touched that her mom was behind such an amazing surprise.
‘I hadn’t been very excited about my wedding to be honest,’ she admitted. ‘Of course, I was excited about marrying Travis, but it was just so sad that Lake wasn’t there. I just felt like this was him being like, “It’s OK. I want you to be happy.”‘
Before the surprise, Anna was planning on wearing a simple handmade dress she ordered off Etsy years ago when Lake was in remission and she and Travis had first set a wedding date. However, when Lake relapsed, and they learned he needed a bone marrow transplant, they canceled the wedding.
‘I literally hung the dress in my closet because I was like we can’t do this right now,’ she recalled.
Understandably, Anna said her dress was the last thing on her mind when she and Travis decided to go forward with the wedding to honor her son, whom Travis had planned on adopting.
Stunning bride: Anna can be seen trying on her wedding gown for her family. She admitted that she had never tried on a wedding gown before that moment
Support system: Anna, who is pictured with her family and the show’s stars, said she felt like the surprise was Lake telling her that he wanted her to get married and be happy
‘[Lake] wanted us to get married so badly, and we’d waited so long,’ she explained. ‘He was going to be the best man in the wedding when we were going to get married before.’
Anna said Lake would make little comments about it being his fault that they weren’t getting married, and while they assured him that was the farthest thing from the truth, she knew it was what he would have wanted.
‘He wanted our last name to be Thompson so, so bad. I don’t know,’ she said. ‘I just knew it was what he would want, and I didn’t want to keep waiting.’
Anna, who had never tried a wedding gown on before, said the dress she had originally chosen was very simple and not anything like an ‘official wedding dress’.
‘I was making it a wedding dress because we were having a very casual laid back wedding,’ she said.
Heartbreaking loss: Anna’s story became international news after she shared this beautiful wedding photo of her and her husband posed with their children – including a faint image of Lake
Beautiful family: Anna and Travis are pictured with their children Lake (center), Trindon (left), and Cambree (right). Travis had planned on adopting Lake after marrying Anna
However, a clip from Friday night’s episode of the series sees Lori insisting that Anna pick out the gown of her dreams.
‘I don’t even want you to look at a price tag because it is my gift to you,’ she says.
Anna explained that the entire moment bittersweet because although she enjoyed trying on so many gorgeous gowns, she couldn’t help but wish Lake was there.
She and her eldest son even used to watch the show together when he was in the hospital.
‘We used to lay in the bed on Friday nights, and I would make him watch Say Yes to the Dress and he would make me split it up between that and wrestling. He loved WWE wrestling,’ she said.
Special bond: Anna said she and Lake used to watch Say Yes to the Dress together when he was in the hospital
Amazing strength: Anna said feared that people would forget about Lake and his story, but she believe their wedding picture going viral was him No one is going assuring her that no one was going to forget him
Special time: Anna, who is pictured with her family, said she still cries every day over the loss of Lake, but she knows she needs to get out of bed and be a mother to Cambree and Trindon
‘And so we would argue about watching it, but he would be funny,’ she continued. ‘He would start watching it too. He would never admit it, but then he would watch it and you know be talking about the dresses.’
Anna noted that she would ‘never would in a million years imagine’ that she would be on the TLC reality series, but she is so grateful for how wonderfully the show treated her and her family during such an emotional time in her life.
‘I would just hope that my story would help someone to know that there is hope and that even though it is terrible you can walk through it and come out on the other side,’ she said. ‘And I am still going through it, don’t get me wrong. It has not even been a year since Lake has passed, and I struggle every single day. Not a day goes by that I don’t cry.’
Anna credits her two-year-old daughter Cambree and five-year-old son Trindon as the reasons why she has the strength to keep going.
‘I have to get out of bed every day. I have no choice, and I have to be a mom to them too,’ she said. ‘They have lost their sibling.They have suffered a loss just like I have, and I want to protect them too.’