Just hours after losing her mother, Hannah Summers stumbled upon an emotional letter that has since resonated with people around the world.
Margaret “Peggy” Summers, of Fort Wayne, Indiana, was diagnosed with stage 4 kidney cancer in June 2016. She died Tuesday at Parkview Memorial Hospital, leaving behind four children, including 18-year-old Hannah.
After her passing, Hannah and her siblings discovered some papers on their mother’s dresser that turned out to be touching letters full of advice and above all, love, that she wrote to each child before her death.
Hannah posted hers on Twitter with a message to “please hug your parents a little closer and never take them for granted because you never know when you could lose them.”
Peggy wrote the notes in June ahead of a risky procedure she feared she would not survive.
“If you are reading this then the surgery did not go well,” the letter begins. “I'm sorry, I tried my best to beat this terrible disease but I guess God had other things for me to do. Please don't be mad, bad things happen in life and we have to learn to deal with it no matter how much it hurts.”
Peggy then tried to give her daughter a road map to grappling with the loss, and dealing with her grief.
“Be patient with dad, this is going to be hard on him and he will need time,” she wrote. “You both need to lean on each other and talk a lot which is not one of our strong points but try and don’t give up. Remember you have a lot of people who love you so talk to them often.”
A freshman at Indiana University-Purdue University, Hannah also received a few words of advice on everything from school, to her career, boys, parties and plenty of topics in between.
“I want you to be happy and use the gifts God has given you,” Peggy wrote. “You will be a wonderful nurse just as you are a wonderful person. Study hard in school, don’t worry about a job.”
“Use your common sense about things like not going anywhere by yourself and having an emergency kit in your car in the winter,” she continued. “Remember that I am still with you and still just as proud of you as I always have been.”
“If you have kids someday make sure they know how much I love them and wanted to be there to see them. You are going to do great in life and I will be smiling with you through all the important moments in your life,” the letter reads.
Hannah said it was difficult to read her letter, and that she and her siblings were very emotional – but they are grateful to have found them.
“It was really hard to read, but at the same time it brought me a lot of comfort because it helped me realize she's always gonna be here with me,” Hannah told TODAY. "I think she wanted to write it to make sure we all knew that she's with us and to give us some closure."
“I can't imagine how hard that must have been for her to write, but it shows what kind of person she was,” she added. "She wasn't thinking about herself when she wrote them, she was thinking about us."
That selflessness was how Hannah said her mom was throughout the course of her life, working as a special education teacher’s aide and constantly going out of her way to help students in need.
Hannah said she initially didn’t want to post the letter on social media, but later felt compelled to share her mother’s words.
“The more I read it, the more I felt like I had to,” Hannah told TODAY. "It has a lot of lessons people can learn from, and it really showed who my mom was."
She posted photos of the two-page letter on Twitter, where it quickly went viral – garnering more than 100,000 retweets and countless replies thanking her for sharing her mother’s wisdom, offering support, and some even revealing their own stories of loss.
Peggy ended her letter with gratitude for the time she spent with Hannah, and a few requests for the future.
“I am thankful God gave us this past year to get closer and spend a lot of quality time together,” she wrote. “Hang on to those good memories and tell everyone you love them as often as you can.”
“Enjoy life and live each day as if it is your last because none of us know if today will be the last,” Peggy’s note ended. “And most of all remember that I Love You more than you will ever know!”