Life is full of ups and downs. We all experience joyful as well as sad times and some people embrace more sorrowful times than others with amazing courage. But when a young person is faced with the inevitability of death, we mourn for them because we know they will never experience the fullness of their days. That young person will never know the joy of graduating from high school or college, getting married, having children or the opportunity to use their God-given talents with full measure to bless the world around them.
Such is the case with Athena Orchard, a 12 year-old who was afflicted with bone cancer at twelve years of age. She lived a year after her diagnosis, but in that year she showed amazing courage, lived life to the fullest, blessed others by sharing wisdom beyond her years, loved unconditionally and left this world with such grace and passion that she left those around her in awe of her indomitable spirit. Her courage was unwavering as she passed from life to death here on earth and from death to life on the other side of eternity into her loving Father’s arms.
She taught us about happiness and enjoying the journey and not just finding pleasure in finally arriving at one’s destination. In a beautiful letter that her father found after her passing, she stated, “Love is not about who you can see spending your future with; it’s about who you can’t see spending your life without.”
We need to treasure the insights of those who have lived a lifetime in just a short amount of time. We were blessed to be in their presence while they were with us. They served as our role models. We need to remember their courage, embrace it, and model it to those who desperately need it. Whether one is young or old, courage is a gift from God that we must seize when we are given the opportunity.