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Dying Man's Letter Of Forgiveness To Pickpocket Becomes International Inspiration

BRUSH PRAIRIE, Wash. (CBS Local) - A dying man has chosen to forgive an alleged pickpocket who spoiled his "trip of a lifetime" in a letter that's receiving global attention.

Mike Veley has been living with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma for six years. The Washington state resident decided to visit Italy and Germany with his wife while he was still in good health.

"With the cancer, it's you never know, you know, none of us really do, right? Never know how long you've got left," Veley told KOIN-TV.

While boarding a boat in Venice, the cancer patient allegedly had his wallet stolen; his money and credit cards were all gone. "I touched my back pocket and it was empty." The Washington man said his wife was heartbroken and he was angry, but Veley added that it was important to forgive the person who took his wallet. "Forgiveness was a necessity for me. I began to pray about it and I asked for help with the anger."

After a stop at a local church, Veley brought a letter to Venice police, written to his alleged thief.

In the letter he wrote:

To the person who stole my wallet: 

I know you probably won't read this and I know you may not care. We arrived in your beautiful city on 14 July at 14:00 by boat #1. I became your next victim. This is my last trip with my wife. I'm dying from cancer. You left me with no money and no credit cards. Imagine for only a moment what this does to your victim I have been praying for forgiveness. I also pray for you. Turn away from your sin which hurts innocent people.

I forgive you.

Michael Veley, USA

Although Venice police reportedly refused to post the letter, an officer sent the note to a publisher of an Italian newspaper. Veley's letter was published on the newspaper's front page on July 17, just days after the tourist's unfortunate incident.

The Brush Prairie resident told reporters the couple was flooded with offers for free rooms at five-star hotels in Italy however, Veley had to return home for more chemotherapy. Veley added that he hopes his final vacation can help people learn about forgiveness and the power of prayer.

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