A dying woman's Christmas gift
A woman's act of love and selflessness from beyond the grave has reduced the staff of a radio station to tears.
Brenda Schmitz was dying of cancer in August 2011 when she wrote a letter to Star 102.5 FM in Des Moines, Iowa, which each year grants "Christmas wishes" to deserving recipients.
Station staff told Schmitz's husband, David, they were going to grant a wish for him - but he didn't know about the letter until host Colleen Kelly started reading his late wife's words live on the air.
"When you are in receipt of this letter I will have already lost my battle to ovarian cancer," the 46-year-old mother of four wrote. "I am writing this letter to have sent to you by a dear friend who has instructions to do so when it was the time.... I told her that once my loving husband David has moved on in his life and met someone to share his life with again to mail this letter to all of you at the station."
Schmitz wrote that she had always enjoyed the station's Christmas wish program, and said her husband had gone through her illness with courage.
"What a great husband and father he is," she wrote.
"I know all this is extremely hard on him. He is the one making the best decisions from here on our for my family and ultimately finding a caring, compassionate loving woman in time to help raise the boys. She must be quite a lady and I wish I could have met to take on the task of raising a larger extended family with unwavering love and devotion and a huge heart.
"We have 4 boys, Carter, Josh, Justin and my lil' Max. Max is the youngest at 2 years old. I was diagnosed right after his 1st birthday. No child as young as Max should lose his mother and it brings tears to my eyes thinking of it. God I will miss seeing him and the boys grow up to be fine men. I have relayed to David to try and not let him forget me. He is such a bright, intelligent, beautiful boy. I will miss all my boys. My favorite has always been the one standing in front of me."
Schmitz wrote that she had a wish for David, her boys, and the new woman in his life.
"I want them to know I love them very much and they always feel safe in a world of pain. I was hoping that one small act you could do for me can change and help their lives forever and they know I am with them always."
She asked for a weekend of pampering for David's partner, telling her that she knew all her boys would need a mother's love, especially little Max.
"Thank you - I love you, whoever you are", wrote Schmitz, who also wrote the woman a private letter. (The woman's name is Jane. David proposed this past summer. She has two children of her own.)
She also asked for a "magical trip" for the new family, and a night out for the cancer doctors and nurses at Mercy Hospital.
With the help of local sponsors, the station is granting all the wishes, including sending the family of eight to Disney World for four days.
"There wasn't a dry eye in the room" when the station got the letter two weeks ago, station brand manager Scott Allen told the Des Moines Register. "There was no question that we were going to do something for this wish. It was what could we do that would be deserving of Brenda's name and memory."
Schmitz died a month after writing the letter. She had to type it because she was so weak and shaky.