Athena was the princess of the Orchard household. Young and vibrant, with an inspiring and passionate outlook in life, 13-year-old Athena Orchard never failed to bring her family smiles and laughter.
That is why when she recently passed away from bone cancer, the Orchard family was extremely devastated. A week after Athena’s passing, the Orchard family had to struggle with one of most painful things to do after a family member’s death – sorting through the departed’s belongings. However, this otherwise depressing activity turned out to be one of the most touching moments that the Orchard family shared with Athena.
While sorting through Athena’s room, the family discovered that their daughter had left a 3000-word message to her parents and siblings, written in black marker on the back of a mirror.
In her message, she writes about her incredible outlook in life and her courageous take on death. A significant part of her message wrote about her illness and how the family must cope with it.
“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.”
33-year-old Mr. Orchard was not able to finish the message. According to him, reading Athena’s final words was heartbreaking
“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.”
Athena Orchard was diagnosed with osteocarcoma, a type of cancer that hits a person’s skeletal system. Her family was alerted of her condition shortly after she collapsed during a dinner at her grandma’s house, just before Christmas.
She had to have a tumor removed from her spine, which involved a seven-hour surgery. Her surgery was followed by numerous chemotherapy sessions and medications. Although Athena lost her hair and much of her usual strength, her positive outlook in life remained.
Despite the extensive treatments she received, Athena Orchard lost the fight to cancer last week. During her death, she was surrounded by close family members.
Mr. Orchard, who was a landscape gardener until he quit to take care of Athena, was blown away by the inspiring message. He said:
“I couldn’t believe it, I saw all this writing, it must have been about 3,000 words. It’s so touching. When I first saw it, it just blew me away.”
“She never mentioned it, but it’s the kind of thing she’d do. She was a very spiritual person, she’d go on about stuff that I could never understand – she was so clever.”
[Images from Caters News Agency via Daily Mail]