A girl named Athena Orchard who lived in Leicester, England. She was very active in sports, particularly boxing. She was fun-loving, pretty, and very dependable, so much so that her parents trusted her with the care of her younger siblings – six sisters and three brothers in all.
Sometime before Christmas one year, Athena discovered a bump on her head, which she opted to ignore. That is, until she collapsed in the kitchen of her home one day.
Her parents took her to the hospital and after several tests, the doctor presented the family with a heart-wrenching diagnosis; Athena had bone cancer. You can just imagine how shocking the news was for the family, more so for Athena who was barely starting to live her life.
Athena had to undergo surgery to remove the tumor from her spinal column. The operation lasted for seven hours, followed by grueling chemotherapy sessions that caused Athena to lose her hair. The once active Athena, who seemed to overflow with energy, became too weak to leave her bed. Shortly after Athena’s 13th birthday, she passed away with her family surrounding her.
“She always remained optimistic and told me not to cry,” said her mother Caroline. “We knew that the cancer was very aggressive…She fought for as long as she could.”
Dean, Athena’s father, took to packing her belongings a couple of days after her death. He decided to take down the mirror hanging in Athena’s bedroom, and to his surprise, he discovered a long message inscribed at the back. It was from Athena.
“I couldn’t believe it. It was almost 3,000 words long,” Dean said. “It totally blew me away. I started reading the words, but I had to stop after awhile, it was simply too much – it broke my heart.”
It was Athena’s handwritten goodbye; a heartfelt message full of wisdom and comfort for the loved ones she left behind. Below are some experts from the message:
“Happiness depends upon ourselves. Maybe it’s not about the happy ending, maybe it’s about the story.
The purpose of life is a life of purpose. The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra.
Happiness is a direction not a destination. Thank you for existing. Be happy, be free, believe, forever young.
You know my name, not my story. You have heard what I’ve done, but not what I’ve been through. Love is like glass, looks so lovely, but it’s easy to shatter.
Every day is special, so make the most of it. You could get a life-ending illness tomorrow so make the most of every day. Life is only bad if you make it bad.
Love is rare, life is strange, nothing lasts, and people change. Life is a game for everyone but love is the only prize.
If someone loves you then they wouldn’t let you slip away no matter how hard the situation is. Remember that life is full of ups and downs, without the downs the ups don’t mean anything.
I’m waiting to fall in love with someone I can open my heart to.
Love is not about who you can see spending your future with it’s about who you can’t see spending your life without.
There is no reason to cry, because I’ll know you’ll be by my side.”
For someone who went through what she did, it’s amazing how Athena found the strength to compose her message.
“She never mentioned it, but it’s like her,” her father knew. “Athena was very profound. She loved to write, that was a part of her and had always made her happy.”
Even with her lingering illness, Athena was still able to see the beauty in life. Her handwritten thoughts were a manifestation of her optimism, and the words probably gave her the courage to face her condition without giving up. That alone should inspire all of us to acquire the mindset and strength of this young girl.
“We will keep the mirror forever. Just reading her words makes it feel like she is still with us,” her parents declared.
Indeed, she may be gone but her last words immortalized Athena in the hearts and minds of people who loved her.