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An angel left behind precious gifts to BFF

Luis Fábregas

The day before Olivia Wade went on a Florida vacation last week, the spunky third-grader gave a silver box to her best friend, Alexis.

Olivia put in the box a few small items she cherished. Among them — a pen with a cupcake topper, a stuffed puppy, a lucky penny and an angel necklace.

There was also a school picture of herself that Olivia asked Alexis to display in her locker at Acmetonia Elementary in Springdale, where the two girls attended.

“So you don’t forget me,” Olivia, 8, told her BFF before giving her a tight hug. “I’ll see you soon.”

Olivia never came home from vacation.

The little girl who loved animals and soccer died in an accident while riding a boat with her mom and other relatives. She would have turned 9 on April 26.

Olivia’s parents, Rebecca and Erick Wade, are related to my wife’s family, and we’ve spent time together at holiday and birthday parties. They are doting parents, always making sure their girls were respectful, loving and responsible.

When word spread about Olivia’s accident, we wondered if we’d heard it right. Little girls don’t die. They play with American Girl dolls, find caterpillars, sing with their friends, bake with their moms and dance with their daddies.

“It seems like it’s a bad dream,” Alexis’ mother, Sharon Arce of Cheswick, told me.

Sharon used the little silver box to explain to Alexis what happened. She sat on her daughter’s bed and, one by one, picked out each item. This box is going to be very important to you, Sharon said. She saved the angel for last.

“Olivia is an angel in Heaven with Pap Pap,” Sharon said, referring to her father, who died five years ago.

It took a few minutes for Alexis to understand her mother’s words. When she finally did, she burst out crying. “Why did God take away my best friend?”

No one will ever have the right answer. No one will ever have the right words for two loving parents who wanted nothing but the best for their little girl.

Those who knew Olivia, however, are left with precious memories no one can take away. Like her desire to set up a stand to sell artwork, charging her own special “tax” to make money for Animal Friends. Or her creativity in making a birthday card for her dog, Penny, in which she promised that her mom and dad wouldn’t yell at the dog for three days. Or her wish to sing country music like Taylor Swift.

For Alexis, it’s a song she wrote with Olivia called “Best Friends Stick Together.” They sang it as Alexis’ dad drove them to see the movie, “The Lorax.” Alexis tried to sing it this week, but her mom had to finish for her.

Olivia’s soccer team, the Harmar Cheetahs, saw their teammate one last time Thursday at a funeral home in Natrona Heights. They wore soccer uniforms, the same as Olivia was wearing in the white casket. The number 78 — Olivia’s — was stitched on their shirts.

For the rest of the season, they will wear lavender ribbons, marking Olivia’s favorite color.

And for the rest of their lives, they will remember the angel in Heaven who left a special box for her best friend.


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