Dean and Caroline Orchard lived every parent's worst nightmare. They had to bury their child.
Athena Orchard was just 12 years old when she was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer. Athena had a 7 hour surgery to remove a tumor from her spine. Unfortunately, the cancer also spread to her head. She passed away days after her 13th birthday.
As her family went through her belongings to clean her room, they took down the full length mirror that was hanging. They knew the task was daunting, but the Orchards were never expecting what they found written on the back of the mirror.
In her own writing, Athena had left a message for her family.
“I couldn’t believe it," said Dean Orchard. "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.”
Words like "happiness depends on ourselves" and "every day is special" were left to remind her family how to live. The last line was the most gut-wrenching.
“There’s no need to cry,” it says, “because I know you’ll be by my side.”
“I started reading it, but before long I had to stop because it was too much,” her dad also said. “It was heartbreaking.”
These are some of the most touching words from Athena's 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 extraordinary and ordinary 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.
Love is rare, life is strange, nothing lasts, and people change. 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.
If someone loves you, they wouldn’t let you slip away, no matter how hard the situation is. Remember that life is full of ups and downs.
Never give up on something you can’t go a day without thinking about. I want to be that girl who makes the bad days better and the one that makes you say, “My life has changed since I met her!”
Love is not about how much you say “I love you” – it’s about how much you can prove it’s true. Love is like the wind, you can feel it, but you can’t see it. I’m waiting to fall in love with someone I can open my heart too.
Love is not about who you can see spending your future with, it’s about who you can’t see spending your life without … Life is a game for everyone, but love is the prize. Only I can judge me.
Sometimes love hurts. Now I’m fighting myself. Baby, I can feel your pain. Dreams are my reality. It hurts, but it’s okay. I’m used to it.
Don’t be quick to judge me, you only see what I choose to show you … you don’t know the truth. I want to have fun and be happy without being judged.
This is my life, not yours, don’t worry about what I do. People gonna hate you, rate you, break you, but how strong you stand, that’s what makes you … you!
There’s no need to cry because I know you’ll be my side.”