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On her first ever episode of The Project, Lisa Wilkinson made everyone cry.

After announcing she was leaving Channel Nine’s Today show in October, Lisa Wilkinson has made a triumphant return to TV on Sunday night’s episode of The Project.

Her first act? To turn the audience into balls of blubbering mess with a beautiful story about a man who lost his wife, and months later welcomed their baby boy.

As Lisa explained, young Queensland couple Bec and Gareth Arena wanted to have children, but realised Bec’s cystic fibrosis diagnosis would make it difficult, even life-threatening for her to carry a child to full-term.

Then Jessica Brockie, who already had two children of her own with New Zealand soccer player Jeremy Brockie, had an idea.

“I asked her, ‘what is it, Bec, is it eggs, what’s the issue?’,” Jessica said on The Project. “She said, ‘yeah with my lung capacity, you know, it’s going to be risky, I’m not going to be able to carry.’ I said, ‘well, I carry babies, I could probably carry a baby for you.'”

Bec and Gareth accepted and Jessica fell pregnant with the couple’s first child in May.

“Bec rang me and said, ‘We’re going to be parents.’ I was at the front of work, just pacing up and down the front of the workshop. We just couldn’t believe it,” Gareth said.

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Listen: Lisa left her job and it worked out fine. But is walking away always the best move? (Post continues.)

But in September, Gareth’s joy turned to the worst kind of heartbreak. Bec, a much-loved member of her community, died as a result of complications with her illness.

“It was quite a quick deterioration really. Things started getting really bad… There was never a thought in my mind that the worse could actually happen. And we never really spoke about the possibilities of her not seeing her son,” Gareth recalled.

“The house has just been empty, not just the same without Bec. Any decision I have to make, I always think what would Bec do? If he wants to ballet, or motor-cross, he’s open to do whatever he wants. It’s always in the back of my mind, to make sure everything I do is exactly what she would do.”

Gareth didn’t have long to process his new reality as a single parent. Last week Jessica gave birth to his son, Rixon James, who was placed on Gareth’s chest for immediate skin-to-skin contact.

“I felt there was definitely a part of her watching over, yeah. She would never have missed it,” he said.

Jessica, meanwhile, told Lisa she was proud of her role in Rixon’s life.

“Yeah, I do. I never thought that I would feel that way, but I definitely do that we this little guy in the world because the world deserves a peace of Bec and I’m really proud that I got to be a part of that.”

As if their story wasn’t heartstrings-pulling enough, after the pre-recorded package ended, Lisa gave a detail that made us sob.

“And to give you an indication of just how deeply loved Bec was and remains in Townsville,” Lisa said, “when I was getting off the plane in Townsville, this guy came up to me, heard me talking about this story, very gently to our producer and he said, ‘Please, do Bec justice. She’s so loved.'”

We think she did just that.

The moving moment left her fellow panelists declaring, “Better not make us cry like that ever again.”

Lisa replied with an important message: “Sorry about that. Research into cystic fibrosis is horribly underfunded and it was Gareth’s greatest wish that in sharing Bec’s  story he could help raise awareness and much-needed dollars.”

To help, you can go head to the Cystic Fibrosis Australia website and donate.

Bravo Lisa. What a debut.

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