Zaykeese, a young man serving in the US military, knew that him being at his mom's upcoming wedding was beyond important to her. She'd raised him and his brother as a single mother, and although he wanted to be there for her as she'd been there for him all his life, he'd already shipped out to attend basic training.
"On the day my mother was going to get married, I hadn't seen her in six months," he said in a video posted by the Facebook group Military Kind. "I'm serving in the United States Army, and I was at basic training. So when my mother found out that I was not going to be able to make it to her wedding, she was devastated."
Still, he convinced her that his love for his country meant that it was a sacrifice he had to make.
"I really, really want to serve and be willing to sacrifice everything for this country because I love it so much, so she understood that and she was very proud of my decision," he said. "She knew that it was the right decision for me."
"Every moment that you have with your family . . . means something. I feel for my fellow soldiers who are in Afghanistan or in Iraq who go months or sometimes years without seeing their family."
Still, it weighed on him. His grandmother advised that he write a long, sincere letter to his chain of command asking for a short reprieve to attend the wedding. "They just loved the letter," he said. "It was very heartfelt, and they said, 'OK, we don't usually offer special leave for things like this, but since this means so much to you, we're going to be able to do something for you.'"
From there, Zaykeese's family helped him pull off a perfect wedding day surprise. As his mom was getting ready to walk down the aisle, Zaykeese took hold of her veil before walking forward and standing at her side.
The look on his mom's face when she turned to see the man standing beside her was truly priceless.
"As soon as she saw me, she just broke down," he said. "It was something else. I was not expecting that."
Adorably, as they walked down the aisle, arm in arm, his crying mom called out for Q-tips — a trick from her videographer so she could wipe her tears without messing up her makeup.
"Whenever she saw me, those Q-tips had no effect," he said with a laugh.
Although being there on his mom and step dad's day was "very meaningful" to him, Zaykeese recognized the gift he was given.
"Every moment that you have with your family . . . means something," he said. "I feel for my fellow soldiers who are in Afghanistan or in Iraq who go months or sometimes years without seeing their family. It's very tough. So it was a big blessing to be able to take a break and be reminded of what I'm fighting for, which is my family."