A Daughter’s Legacy: A letter discovered

A Daughter’s Legacy: A letter discovered


Not long after Athena Orchard, then 13, lost her short battle with cancer, her family uncovered a hidden message of over 3,000 words written on the back of her bedroom mirror. The Orchard family’s story was featured in the Daily Mail.

“Happiness depends upon ourselves. Maybe it’s not about the happy ending, maybe it’s about the story.” she wrote. “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.”

Athena was diagnosed with osteosarcoma at 12. The malignant bone tumor was discovered after she collapsed one day just before Christmas. Tumors were discovered in her spine, left shoulder and her head. After more than seven hours of surgery, she began chemotherapy.

Although Athena was always athletic, she became very weak and could hardly get out of bed. Athena died at the young age of 13, on May 28, 2014.

In the days following Athena’s death, her parents Caroline Orchard, 37, and Dean Orchard, 33, went through her belongings and discovered inspirational writings on the back of her mirror.

“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,” said Dean.

Athena wrote about love, happiness and about being stricken with the disease.

The family says that they will hold on to the mirror forever. Just having her words left behind makes them feel like she is still with them, and makes her legacy live on.

“‘Every day is special, so make the most of it.” – Athena Orchard.

Do read the entire story of Athena and her family at the link above.

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  • Mike Hughes

    July 15, 2014

    Most times, the gaining of wisdom takes time. Sometimes the allotted time is foreshortened. Athena adapted to her timetable, and succeeded in gaining a good part of wisdom quite admirably.

  • Janice

    July 15, 2014

    Wow – that is incredible! What amazing insight for such a young person. You lost a very special daughter – my condolences. She left you quite the gift on that mirror.