It probably made little difference in Smith's decision to admit Stephanie. But after she graduated in 2004, when her mother began to suffer from Alzheimer's disease, Stephanie reread the letter and realized how much it meant to her. Two summers ago, she carried it with her on a 350-mile bike ride to raise money for Alzheimer's research.
"She never went to college, and my father never graduated from high school," said Soscia, who earned a doctorate in neurobiology and now works on Alzheimer's research at Harvard. "She wanted to be part of the process but she really didn't know how to contribute."
When Stephanie rediscovered the letter, "I loved reading it," she said. "I cry every time."
"When you lose a parent either because of death or in my case a debilitating brain disease, sometimes there are things that go left unsaid," she said. "I find I can get closure through that letter. I know that during our time together her love for me was strong, and she really put her all into it."
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