The 3,000-word letter was written on the back of a mirror.
This article originally appeared on 04.15.19
On May 28, 2014, 13-year-old Athena Orchard of Leicester, England, died of bone cancer. The disease began as a tumor in her head and eventually spread to her spine and left shoulder. After her passing, Athena's parents and six siblings were completely devastated. In the days following her death, her father, Dean, had the difficult task of going through her belongings. But the spirits of the entire Orchard family got a huge boost when he uncovered a secret message written by Athena on the backside of a full-length mirror.
After removing the mirror from the wall, Dean discovered a 3,000-word letter written all the way down its backside in black pen. "She never mentioned it, but it's the kind of thing she'd do," her father told People magazine. "She was a very spiritual person, she'd go on about stuff that I could never understand – she was so clever." The moving letter revealed her deepest feelings about her fight with the dreaded disease. "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," she wrote. "Life is only bad if you make it bad."
Although Athena is gone, the mirror now serves as a powerful memory of her undying spirit. "We're keeping the mirror forever, it is a part of her we can keep in the house, it will always be in her room," her mother, Caroline, said. "Just reading her words felt like she was still here with us, she had such an incredible spirit."
Athena's full 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.
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, then 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 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… 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 just 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 by my side."
Have we witnessed the beginning of a love story?
Hallmark has produced more than 300 holiday-themed movies over the past decade and they tend to be romantic comedies or stories about families that reunite around Christmas. The movies are meant to be comfort food on a cold winter’s night, so no one seems to mind that they’re filled with predictable plot lines and cliches.
Hallmark movies have become a big part of America's holiday tradition. Last year, more than 80 million people watched at least part of one.
Each film usually begins with a single woman in a small, quaint town having a meet-ugly or a meet-cute with her love interest. In a meet-ugly scenario, the boy and girl are either adversaries in a cause or inadvertently injure one another in a freak accident. If it's a meet-cute scenario, the two randomly run into each other and have an instant connection.
Regardless of how they meet, the couple falls for each other and then a major misunderstanding drives them apart before they are brought together again
Writer Shyla Watson went Christmas tree shopping on November 27 and inadvertently found herself in a situation that resembled the first act of a Hallmark holiday movie. Her tweet about it quickly went viral, receiving more than 72,000 likes.
Christmas tree shopping day. I’m at my most powerful 🎄 pic.twitter.com/I7zJsFLqvq— Shyla Watson (@shylawhittney) November 27, 2022
I can’t believe I’m even writing this but just now I was trying to get my Christmas tree off the roof of the car. Clearly struggling. A voice calls out asking if I need help. I turn around. A HANDSOME, SHIRTLESS, TATTOOED stranger comes forward. (1/2)— Shyla Watson (@shylawhittney) November 27, 2022
\u201cOkay so I didn\u2019t get his name or number but in my defense I was very frazzled!! It\u2019s not every day a hot shirtless guy comes to your Christmas rescue (yes this would be the name of the Hallmark movie) but I\u2019m pretty sure he lives across the street so waiting for a xmas miracle\u201d— Shyla Watson (@Shyla Watson) 1669588817
Shyla didn’t get his number but that may not be such a bad thing. Liv pointed out that the movie has just begun and it was a total meet-cute situation.
No, it’s good that you didn’t get his number bc they never do in the first scenes. Please frequent your local cafe, join a local cause/protest, go Christmas shopping on a busy weekend, and walk around unaware of your surroundings for optimal results. Please update. Thank you.— liv🕯 (@oIiviacarter) November 28, 2022
Amber Picota noted that there is a surefire way to get the man's attention: gaze at the snow with a warm drink in hand.
Hear me out: during the first snow, walk w/ a mug of cocoa in hand, to the front porch. You gaze at the miracle of snow. You’re distracted by movement across the street. He too is mesmerized by the snow. Your eyes lock. There’s a softness in his eyes. He waves & walks your way.— Irreverent Reverend ✊🏼🙏🏼 (@TheAmberPicota) November 28, 2022
Shyla should also prepare herself for a meet-ugly reversal.
💯this. Also, carry in the other arm a stack of poorly organised papers and files of different colours to increase the drama of the accidental both or you not looking where you’re going collision— Natasha Guttenbeil (@tashinja) November 28, 2022
Or, she can double down on the heavy-item tactic.
You need to get another bulky thing in your car and struggle to get it out, so he'll appear again and say "We need to stop meeting like this."— Henri Hart - Querying 'Corner House' (@HenriHartWrites) November 28, 2022
Auld Anxiety knows how to find him and find out if he's single.
aight so boom, this what you gotta do...call your friends/family and get a caroling group together. Go to every door in the neighborhood till he answer. Now u know where he stay at AND if he got kids/wife cause he'll call em to the door. pic.twitter.com/FWAFqkI3Kq— Auld Anxiety (@NotFknYt) November 28, 2022
Keep an eye out for ex-girlfriends. They always tend to pop up somewhere in these movies.
And after knowing him for 1 month, he will invite you to his small town family’s Christmas party where his ex is also attending. She’ll try to make a move but don’t worry he’ll shut it down. By the end of the night, you’ll be engaged. Congrats!— cat 👽🍃💅🏻 (@CatIsFamous) November 28, 2022
But of course, problems will arise.
Make sure to tell everyone that you are not interested in a relationship this Christmas and that love is not for you and that you are busy with work or some other big project so that way you will be more shocked and surprise to see him at the office/event party.— Aries Roivas (@AriesRoivas) November 29, 2022
Nonononono! She's the brilliant designer who comes up with THEE hot Xmas ornament whose sales are going to save the company, which he inherited from his grandparents.— Angelina♣️📖📝🧶 (@MemphisBelle111) November 28, 2022
You’re going to figure out where he lives because you will see him walking out his door with a very attractive woman. You will be jealous but eventually you will find out she’s his recently widowed sister. You will feel bad and relieved at the same time.— Ann Mitchell☮️ (@saythewordmom) November 29, 2022
Pretty sure you might need to go to your local bookstore which may be closing down because a greedy real estate mogul wants the land for development. You’ll find your guy working there because it’s his family store.— Candace Stephenson (she/her) (@defcandy) November 28, 2022
So when is this going to become a movie already?
Patiently awaiting episode two of Handsome Holiday Help pic.twitter.com/OaNJeps7S9— knishiwa08 (@knishiwa08) November 28, 2022
The Take spells it out perfectly:
“The Rom-Com Formula: Two people at odds, a meet-cute, misunderstanding, or an outright lie, an adorably clumsy heroine, a red herring love interest, a whimsical job, a big apartment, zany side characters, kissing in the rain, the epiphany, the happy-ever-after… and more."
Shyla has yet to update the world on what happened after she had her meet-cute, but maybe that’s because “Handsome Holiday Hunk” is already in development at Hallmark and she doesn’t want to blow the deal.
'Do y'all have a cat?'
Maybe it's a right of passage into adulthood or maybe some landlords discriminate against pets because they can't tell people kids are forbidden in their residence. Either way, just about everyone has lived in a rental home that didn't allow pets. Most people just abide by the rules and vow to get a pet when they find a new home.
Some people, on the other hand, get creative. I once came across a post on social media where someone claimed their pit bull puppy was actually a silver Labrador. But one woman on TikTok was harboring a secret cat in her rental that had a no pets policy, and either her cat was unaware or he was aware and was simply being a jerk.
My money is on the latter since cats are known to be jerks for no reason. I mean, have you ever left something on the counter for a few minutes? They make it their mission to knock it on the floor. So I fully believe this fluffy little meow box wanted to make his presence known in an effort to rat out his owner.
Maybe the cat forgot that he doesn't actually pay any bills, so whatever qualms he has with his owner should probably stay between them. Dear Mr. Kitty, if your owner gets kicked out, so do you. The situation is hilarious and slightly terrifying for anyone who has tried to hide an unauthorized pet. It all started with an unexpected knock on the door by the landlord. Instead of letting the landlord in, the woman ran to the door to stand outside and speak to him. You know, trying to avoid the discovery of her feline companion.
The tabby cat decided he wanted to be a part of the conversation that was taking place on the other side of the door so he began to meow, loudly, to guarantee his concerns were addressed. But he's a cat, so communication was difficult. It was right after the landlord asked the tenant, "Do y'all have a cat?" that the tabby decided that was his cue.
See what he does in the video below:
#storytime #fyp #cats #catsoftiktok #cat #quickchat #countyourdays
We're the first generation to have educational programs molding our core memories.
"A loaf of bread, a container of milk and a stick of butter."
It's a simple, repeated line from a one-minute sketch, but as a Gen Xer raised on public television, it's one of thousands of "Sesame Street" segments etched into my brain. Such memories still pop into my head at random times, clear as day, well into my forties. Bert singing about his oatmeal box while playing it like a drum. Kermit lamenting that it's not easy—but it is beautiful—being green. Buffy Saint-Marie breastfeeding her baby and explaining it to Big Bird. Mr. Hooper—the sweet, bow-tied man who ran the Sesame Street corner store—dying.
I was 8 when Mr. Hooper died. It was a big deal. I rewatched part of that episode recently to see what I'd think of it as an adult. The "Sesame Street" gang of 1983 handled it masterfully, helping us all process his unexpected death through Big Bird's own experience of learning about what it means to die.
"Big Bird, when people die, they don't come back," said Susan.
Big Bird let that reality sink in, then said that things wouldn't be the same without Mr. Hooper—exactly the sentiment we all had.
Bob comforted Big Bird, saying, "You're right, Big Bird. It'll never be the same around here without him. But you know something? We can all be very happy that we had a chance to be with him, and to know him and to love him a lot when he was here."
\u201cA founding cast member, Bob embodied the melodies of Sesame Street like no one else, and his performances brought joy and wonder to generations of children around the world...\n\n2/4\u201d— Sesame Workshop (@Sesame Workshop) 1670199193
And now the always kind, always gentle Bob has joined Mr. Hooper and the original Big Bird, Carol Spinney, in whatever comes next. Bob McGrath passed away this past week at age 90, and I found myself mourning the loss more than I would have expected.
I suspect I'm not alone.
Those of us in the original "Sesame Street generation" were the guinea pigs on which the theory of educational children's television programming was tested. It was an experiment that proved beneficial for millions of us, helping us grow up smarter, stronger and kinder, according to research—but it also gave us a unique relationship with the people and characters who lived on Sesame Street.
The generation that came before us didn't have anything like "Sesame Street" or "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" or "The Electric Company," and the generations after us have had so much more educational programming to choose from. But those shows were all we had besides mostly-horrible-in-hindsight Saturday morning cartoons. For us, the people and characters on "Sesame Street" formed a core part of our most wholesome childhood memories. They weren't just entertainers, but teachers. They helped us become better humans in addition to teaching us our letters and numbers, and the emotional connection created from that mentorship during our formative years is profound.
\u201cMe eating an apple today for me friend Bob. \ud83c\udf4e\u2764\ufe0f\u201d— Cookie Monster (@Cookie Monster) 1670276094
I'm not a huge crier, but I cried when Mr. Rogers died and I cried when Jim Henson died. I didn't expect it, but I couldn't help it. And when I saw the news this weekend that Bob McGrath from "Sesame Street" had died, I had the same visceral reaction. A piece of my childhood is gone, just like that, never to come back. I didn't know him, of course, but I felt like I knew him. And in some odd way, I feel like he actually knew me, because he knew and understood kids.
Perhaps that's why so many of us feel an emotional attachment to our childhood educational show icons. We weren't just mindless consumers of cartoon entertainment to them, but precious children with the potential to learn and discover, to become more caring and more knowledgeable. We knew they saw us and understood the stages we were going through. I felt that genuine respect for me as a human being even as a young child. And as an adult, I've learned about the sincerity and earnestness of the "Sesame Street" creators and how hard they worked to create the absolute best for kids, which only crystallizes what I felt back then.
"Sesame Street" didn't just make learning the alphabet and counting entertaining. It taught us about life, about people, about relationships and about ourselves—lessons that became part of our identities. I've often thought that the world would be an entirely different place if every young child was raised on a steady diet of "Sesame Street," and the older and more experienced I get, the more I believe that. It really did make us smarter, stronger and kinder.
Rest in peace, Bob. Thank you for everything you taught us and for being such a positive part of our childhood memories.