When you’re facing the heartbreaking prospect of death at the age of just 27, it would be natural to feel anger and a sense of injustice from being cheated out of life, but for Grafton woman Holly Butcher, confronting her mortality brought peace and clarity.
In a touching open letter posted to Facebook after her death from Ewing’s sarcoma on January 4, Holly shared “a bit of life advice”, and it’s touched the hearts of people all over the world, garnering over 25,000 reactions and almost 40,000 shares at the time of writing.
“I always imagined myself growing old, wrinkled and grey – most likely caused by the beautiful family (lots of kiddies) I planned on building with the love of my life. I want that so bad it hurts.
“That’s the thing about life; It is fragile, precious and unpredictable and each day is a gift, not a given right.
“I’m 27 now. I don’t want to go. I love my life. I am happy. I owe that to my loved ones. But the control is out of my hands.”
She implores those reading her message to forget petty worries and instead focus on the joys of life.
“I just want people to stop worrying so much about the small, meaningless stresses in life and try to remember that we all have the same fate after it all so do what you can to make your time feel worthy and great, minus the bullsh**.
“Those times you are whinging about ridiculous things (something I have noticed so much these past few months), just think about someone who is really facing a problem. Be grateful for your minor issue and get over it. It’s okay to acknowledge that something is annoying but try not to carry on about it and negatively affect other people’s days.
“Once you do that, get out there and take a freaking big breath of that fresh Aussie air deep in your lungs, look at how blue the sky is and how green the trees are; It is so beautiful. Think how lucky you are to be able to do just that – breathe.
“You might have got caught in bad traffic today, or had a bad sleep because your beautiful babies kept you awake, or your hairdresser cut your hair too short. Your new fake nails might have got a chip, your boobs are too small, or you have cellulite on your arse and your belly is wobbling.
“Let all that sh** go. I swear you will not be thinking of those things when it is your turn to go. It is all SO insignificant when you look at life as a whole. I’m watching my body waste away right before my eyes with nothing I can do about it and all I wish for now is that I could have just one more Birthday or Christmas with my family, or just one more day with my partner and dog. Just one more.
“I hear people complaining about how terrible work is or about how hard it is to exercise – be grateful you are physically able to. Work and exercise may seem like such trivial things... until your body doesn’t allow you to do either of them.
“I tried to live a healthy life, in fact, that was probably my major passion. Appreciate your good health and functioning body – even if it isn’t your ideal size. Look after it and embrace how amazing it is. Move it and nourish it with fresh food. Don’t obsess over it.”
In the moving letter, Holly reminds us that, in the end, material possessions mean nothing. Instead, she says we should focus on becoming more generous and respectful of the people we love the most.
“Give, give, give. It is true that you gain more happiness doing things for others than doing them for yourself. I wish I did this more.
“Buy your friend something kind instead of another dress, beauty product or jewellery for that next wedding … Take them out for a meal, or better yet, cook them a meal. Shout their coffee. Give/buy them a plant, a massage or a candle and tell them you love them when you give it to them.
“Value other people’s time. Don’t keep them waiting because you are sh** at being on time. Get ready earlier if you are one of those people and appreciate that your friends want to share their time with you, not sit by themselves, waiting on a mate. You will gain respect too!
“Use your money on experiences… Or at least don’t miss out on experiences because you spent all your money on material sh**.
“Tell your loved ones you love them every time you get the chance and love them with everything you have.”
Holly ends the message with one final plea. “If you can, do a good deed for humanity (and myself) and start regularly donating blood. It will make you feel good with the added bonus of saving lives. I feel like it is something that is so overlooked considering every donation can save 3 lives! That is a massive impact each person can have and the process really is so simple.
“Blood donation (more bags than I could keep up with counting) helped keep me alive for an extra year – a year I will be forever grateful that I got to spend it here on Earth with my family, friends and dog. A year I had some of the greatest times of my life.”
What an inspirational woman. Rest in peace, Holly.
To read her full letter, click here.
Image credit: Holly Butcher/Facebook.