Loving father and husband Mitchell Whisenhunt battled Marfan syndrome — a rare genetic disorder that affects the body's connective tissue — his entire life.
Knowing there was a strong possibility he could die from the disease, the 26-year-old decided to write letters to his wife, Ashley Whisenhunt, and the couple's 18-month-old daughter, Brynleigh, so they could be comforted by his words in case he was no longer around.
On Saturday, Oct. 18, his battle came to an end. Left behind were the letters that were found by his widow.
"It just blows my mind," Ashley, 22, said of finding the 30 letters her husband had secretly written to his family. "He thought about everybody else instead of himself."
Related Story: Couple of 65 Years Dies 40 Minutes Apart While Lying Next to Each Other
Part of the collection included specific instructions for his wife to give their young daughter a letter every year (starting on her second birthday) on a specified date until she turned 18. Mitchell explained it's to show how much he unconditionally loved her despite the short time they shared together.
Mitchell and his daughter Brynleigh on her first birthday. (Photo Credit: Facebook)
He also left Ashley another special surprise. In a spiral notebook that Ashley used before dropping out of college to care for her ailing husband full-time, he wrote a letter to his wife asking her to publish a book of poetry he had written.
"He is all I ever had," Ashley said of the man she fell in love with as a teenager. "We have been together since before we knew what love and life was about."
Related Story: Dying Dad Dances with His Three Daughters at Faux-Wedding
Mitchell also planned his own funeral. And according to Ashley, it will surely include more surprises for their grieving family.
"There are ones we still don't know about," she said. "The funeral director said he couldn't tell me. It was Mitchell's plan and secret."
Good Morning America first reported Mitchell and Ashley's story.
Your life just got exponentially better and more stylish now you've signed up for our newsletter. Fabulousness awaits!