Monday, June 14, 2010

Notes Left Behind

This book could make you cry, motivated and inspired, all at the same time.

I bought it some months back. Each time I picked it up, I could not read on. Writing about it is even harder.


'Notes Left Behind' is a true story of a brave little girl who left this world too soon. In her last days, 6-year old Elena Desserich fought an incurable brain cancer and left behind a big lesson for all of us to learn.

Elena Desserich, Dec 2000 - Aug 2007

I first learnt about her story in the news about a year ago. I was greatly saddened by her passing but very much inspired by her courage.
Due to her illness, Elena lost her ability to talk but she did not lose her ability to love. She was still able to write and so she did to let her parents know that everything was OK.

During her last days, Elena also fulfilled some of her wishes and one of them was to paint a masterpiece which now hangs in Cincinnati Art Museum.

Elena's notes

Elena's notes

Doctor gave Elena 135 days but she made it 255 days. After the cancer claimed her life in Aug 2007, her parents discovered a note left behind by Elena. They soon discovered in the following weeks and months, more notes hidden by her in places such as within CD covers, in book cases or under vases. Her parents have discovered hundreds of them and no one knows for sure if there are any more in the house.

Her notes would carry a simple message such as "'I love you Mom, Dad and Grace." or drawing of many hearts. These notes were no doubt simple but looking at them wrenched my heart.

Elena's drawing

According to her parents, they never spoke of death to Elena. Somehow, Elena probably knew that she wouldn't be around for long and starting writing notes, drawing pictures and hid them everywhere. Perhaps she wanted to ease the pain for her parents after she left them.

In some ways, Elena's parents are lucky to have received notes left behind by their little girl. I wish I too could get such notes from loved ones whom I will never see again.

Photo By Vanilla

A book with a big message

The book was written by Elena's parents as a memoir for her younger sister Gracie so that she may reflect on the strength and courage of her big sister.
It wasn't the initial intention of the Desserich family to publish the book. However, they later decided to do so as they wanted to channel the money to their cancer foundation, "The Cure Starts Now".

Elena's parents urge the readers "to take time to listen and not to get caught up in the days' rush".

Photo By Vanilla

Normalcy is a gift

Many of us are guilty of not counting our blessing but are busy getting upset over triviality. Elena's story sends a reminder to the readers that today is not here forever whether we choose to live it well or not.

At some point in time, there are pains in each of us. Very often, much of these pains are unduly amplified. We would have thought that our pains are unjustifiable. We feel that way because we have little awareness of people around us. Many of them are going through pains which put ours next to nothing.

Compared to their lives, ours are 'normal'.

Normalcy is a gift and I have learnt not to take that for granted. I have also learnt that normalcy comes from seeing things in perspective (See Perspective of Life) and filling our days with happier thoughts (See Happiness is a Choice).

For me, I choose to make today the best day of my life. Make it your choice too.

Watch this video about the book and the notes that Elena has left behind.

Official website of "Notes Left Behind".

"Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you ought to set up a life you don’t need to escape from."
~ Seth Godin ~

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