Athena Orchard comes from Leicester, England. She's a happy and cute girl who into sports. Her favorite hobby is boxing. She's very caring and protective, especially towards her six sisters and three brothers. Right before Christmas, Athena find a lump on her head. She was 12 years old back then. She doesn't care about the lump – until she collapses in the kitchen. The doctors gave Athena and her family a nightmare notice: Athena suffers from skeleton cancer.
The cancer comes as a shock to the 12-year-old Athena and her family.
During a seven-hour long surgery, the doctors fight to remove the tumor from Athena’s spine and after that she goes through her first chemo. She loses all her hair and Athena, who once bubbled of energy, no longer can get up from her bed.
Despite this, Athena tries to be strong and optimistic:
”She was positive all the time and told me not to cry”, her mother Caroline explains.
”We knew that the cancer was very aggressive… She fought for as long as she could”.
Right after her 13th birthday Athena passed away, surrounded by her family. A couple of days after the tragedy, Athena’s father Dean goes through her belongings. He moves Athena’s mirror off the wall and discovers something in the back of it. It’s full of characters, from top to bottom.
”I couldn’t believe it was true. The letter was almost 3 000 words and I was stunned. I started to read but had to stop after a while, it was too much. It broke my heart”, Dean says.
Athena’s handwritten goodbye is full of wisdom and comforting encouragement to those she left behind. Here are extracts from the emotional letter:
”To feel happiness is completely up to ourselves. Maybe it’s not about the happy ending, maybe it’s about how we treat our way going there.
The meaning of life is to find a life with meaning. The difference between the ordinary and the extraordinary is the little extra. Happiness is a way, not a destination.
Thank you for existing. Be happy, be free, believe and feel eternal youth.
You know my name, not my story. You’ve heard what I’ve done but not what I’ve gone through. Love is like glass, it looks so beautiful, but it’s easy to break.
Every day is special, so make the best of it. You can be hit by a life threatening disease tomorrow, so make the best out each day. Life is only bad if you make it bad.
Love is rare, life is strange, nothing last forever and people change.
Life is a game to everyone, but love is the only price. If someone love you, they don’t let you go, no matter what. Remember that life is full of ups and downs, without the setbacks the success is worth nothing.
I’m waiting to fall in love with someone who I can open my heart to. Love is not about who you can spend your future with, it’s about who can’t live without.
There’s no reason to cry, cause I know you’ll be by my side.”
No one knows how this 12-year-old girl found the strength to write this letter.
”She never mentioned it, but that’s who she was. Athena had a depth. She loved to write. It was a part of her and that always made her happy”, the dad says according to Hefty and continues:
“Even if Athena passed away, she is immortal through her words. We will keep the mirror forever. Just by reading her words it feels like she’s still here”.
Despite her disease, Athena never lost her ability to see the beauty in life. Her optimism expresses in her last thoughts, the things she wrote on the back of the mirror. With her attitude and strength she’s such an inspiration and everyone should read her words!