It begins with a simple yet heartbreaking sentence: "Hello, my name is Brenda Schmitz. When you are in receipt of this letter I will already have lost my battle to ovarian cancer."
So starts a heartfelt letter, dated August 3, 2011, that went on to grant the wishes of a mother of four boys – two years after her death.
Brenda Schmitz and her husband David were a happy couple and parents to Carter, Josh, Justin and Max when Brenda was diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer in January 2011. Brenda died eight months later, aged 46, when their youngest son, Max, was two-years-old.
Weeks before losing her life, the mother wrote a letter to a local radio station’s Christmas program. Every year, STAR 102.5, of Des Moines, Iowa, grants the Christmas wishes of a handful of listeners – and Brenda had always been a fan of the generosity of the station and its supporters.
She left the letter with a friend, telling her to send it to the radio station once her husband had “moved on” and “met someone to share his life with again”. When David found new love and recently proposed to his new partner – Jane, a mother of two – the friend followed her instructions and mailed it.
The letter begins with an explanation of why the family, including her husband’s new partner, are deserving of a Christmas treat.
“I have a wish for David, the boys, and the woman and family if she has kids also. I want them to know I love them very much and hope they always feel safe in a world of pain,” she wrote.
“I was hoping that one small act you all could do for me can change and help their lives forever and they know I am with them always.”
Her first wish is for her husband’s new partner: "a day or better yet a weekend of pampering in all aspects of her life".
"She deserves it," Brenda wrote. "Being a stepmother to all those boys, and especially giving little Max a mother's love that only she can give.
"Make her smile and know her efforts are truly appreciated from me. Thank you - I love you - whoever you are."
Before her death, Brenda wrote a private letter for her husband’s new partner. It was also sent this week.
The second wish was for her entire family: "a magical trip".
"Somewhere where they all can enjoy their company and companionship as a family and create those memories that will be with them forever."
Lastly, the mother requested a special treat for the staff who treated her at the cancer centre, wishing for "a night out full of drinks, food and fun for all they do every day for the cancer patients they encounter".
"May God bless and keep all of you safe there. Thanks for this ... when you wish upon a star," the letter finishes.
The station organised for all three wishes to be granted. The new blended family of eight will be flown to Disney World for an all-expenses paid holiday – and while they are there, Jane will get her day of pampering.
The oncology unit staff members will also receive their treat.
David was told last Thursday that he would be granted a wish during STAR 102.5’s Christmas campaign, but did not know the details when he arrived at the station.
He was visibly emotional as the letter was read out on air during the segment. He described his late wife as “very down to earth, a loving mother, a terrific wife".
He said that Brenda had told him she wanted him to fall in love again and to find a new mother figure for their sons.
He also explained that he often felt Brenda was looking over their family.
"It’s not surprising, because the last year and a half she’s shown so many signs that she’s there," he said.
Watch the full segment of the radio show below.