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The Light that Never Dies: The Voice of Olivia That Continues to Roar with Life

Updated on February 3, 2014

We are living beings, but not immortal ones. From the moment we are born, our internal clocks start to tick. For some it can be as many as 100 years while for others it can be less than 100 months. Life can present a great blessing or a harsh curse that ultimately makes us wonder what we can do with the time we have.

A dying teenage girl managed to find that time. She reminded us of what a true impact we can all have long after our time is done.

On November 26, 2013 CNN posted a news report that a young girl named Olivia Wise had lost her battle to brain cancer the day before. Olivia was diagnosed with the disease in January 2012 and was told it was not operable. She was only 16 years old.

Around the month of September, Olivia had recorded her cover of Katy Perry’s “Roar.” At the time of the recording, Olivia had learned that no further treatments were available for her condition, but she did not want to live a life without hope or happiness. According to the CNN article, Olivia’s mother wrote a letter to the news agency saying that Olivia, “...didn't want people crying at her funeral, but that they should celebrate her life.”

The video was published in October and quickly generated between 200,000 to 300,000 views. As of the date of this article, the video has now generated nearly 3 million views.

Roar Cover

About a week after Olivia’s passing, Anderson Cooper interviewed Olivia’s mother, Kari Winemaker, and her sister, Kaily Wise. During the interview, it was revealed that Katy Perry had posted a video thanking Olivia for doing the cover and how it touched her deeply. By the end of her video, she told Olivia to, “keep roaring.”

When Anderson asked Kari what she wanted the world to know about Olivia, she replied: “We’ve always known Olivia was so special and now the world has seen how special she really is…Olivia never gave up fighting for her dreams.” She also remarked that Olivia was rarely negative and kept going on with school and her daily life as if all was well. Kaily made similar remarks. She also talked about Olivia’s great singing abilities and how she wrote a song titled “Simple Girl” when she was only 11 years old.

They also discussed an online fundraiser called the Live Wis Fund with the hopes of raising enough money to support the research necessary to find the cure for brain cancer.

Liv Wise Fund website

Both Kari and Kaily talked about how excited Olivia was when she saw how many people viewed her video and the personal thanks she got from Katie Perry. They also talked about how it showed the world how truly special Olivia was.

Anderson Cooper Interview

It is a natural thing for people to be afraid. When we start our school career, we are afraid on how we will do on our next test. When faced with the reality of raising a family on our own, we fear about how we will budget for it properly and build it upon love and understanding rather than discord and neglect. When we face our final hours, we fear about the unknown awaiting us.

The last fear, in particular, daunts us because we don’t know when that time will come or what will happen as a result. However, we do know it’s coming, so it leaves us a choice. Do we go on living life doing what we like doing until is no longer possible or do we find ways of keeping ourselves safe and make that passing as painless as possible?

Olivia had to make that choice. The sad thing was she had to make it at such a young age. By the time she found out about it, she only had a little over a year to live. How is it possible for a young child, who is just getting to know what the world is like, to make such a choice? Olivia should have been planning on what dress to wear for prom, what she was going to do on a Friday night and how much fun she was going to have with her friends. She was at an age where she should have had the freedom to make simple decisions rather than trying to figure out how she was going to live before she had to die.

And you know what? She did exactly that. She made that simple decision: to live as a teenager full of hopes and dreams. Despite hearing the news, Olivia did not stop doing any of the things she loved, including recording her songs. She continued with her school and she spent quality time with her friends and family. She showed the world that at any age it is never too early to declare how one is going to live.

It is natural for us to feel fear, but it is just as natural for us to feel hope too. Yes, bad things can happen, but that should never stop us from wanting to do the good things in our life as well. Olivia’s lively spirit and bright smiles is proof of that. She didn’t want to live each day dreading what would happen. She wanted to keep smiling and enjoying life with her family so they could enjoy the moments of her blessings with her. She wanted to show the world how happy she was so the rest of the world could also count their blessings no matter what. Most importantly, she wanted to enjoy happiness for herself.

She did not want to live out her days thinking about the day she was going to die. Rather, she wanted to look forward to each day as if she was never going to stop living. This is the sort of purpose we need to keep in mind for ourselves.

Before I left California when I was 15, I knew a girl named Michelle that used to come visit our home. She was my sister’s best friend, so although I didn’t spend nearly as much time with her as my sister did, I remembered her kind spirit quite well. She often came by playing board games with us and we shared many birthday celebrations together. I even remember when she had invited us to be a part of a murder mystery party...and as luck would have it, it turns out I was the culprit. :)

Sadly, Michelle left this world over 10 years ago when she was in her mid-20s. I did not find out until the time of her passing that she was dealing with numerous health issues. I only knew about it because my sister shared that with me. Michelle was always so full of life and very friendly with everyone, so I had no idea she was so sick. Instead, she always enjoyed her life, pursuing her dream career in law and SCUBA diving every chance she had. Like Olivia, Michelle had a spirit that thrived for the enjoyment of life. Michelle let nothing hold her back from being a part of it.

This is something we need to do every moment of our lives. The world is a big place, but in the end all we have is our own actions to determine how we are going to live. The fact that we live in a big world is a reminder of how much there is for us to see and do. More importantly, there are a lot of people living in it to share those experiences with us or at the very least see our passions come to life. This is what we born to do! We are meant to be an example to each other on how precious and beautiful life is.

Olivia showed us that beauty through the power of her songs. She was a “simple girl” who wanted something from her “simple world.” She found it and because of that her life not only began….it never stopped.

Neither should yours.

Simple Girl


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