I can’t stop thinking about Marjorie.
Never has a child been so wanted, so loved, so completely cherished by her parents and everyone around her. There may be equally beautiful, charming, spunky two-and-a-half year olds, but none more so.
And there could be no greater grief than burying that exquisite, radiant little girl.
I’m angry. This isn’t the way it was meant to be. When I first heard the news, I argued with my friend. Told her she must be wrong and should call me back when she had the correct story. And then, I called her back and cried.
So very many people prayed Marjorie into this world, so many people adore her. If you read her mother Mary’s blog, every entry speaks of her gratitude and love for Marjorie and baby Teddy who joined their family last August.
If fact you should read her blog or follow her Instagram account to witness the most beautiful sort of parenting. Mary delights in every moment, every giggle, every word, every dance class, celebrating every holiday with her little family. Daddy Derek snaps photos of Marjorie running to greet the ocean, splashing in puddles, videos where we hear her voice and her cute hand gestures. Derek and Mary care nothing about accumulating things, pride or prestige– they simply revel in spending time with family and friends.
How can I explain how much she means to all of us? Marjorie is a one name moniker at our house– no last name required. The boys and Mary look at my Instagram account or Mary’s blog and say, “Did you see Marjorie fall in the puddle?” “Did you see Marjorie and Teddy on Santa’s lap?” etc. Although we didn’t see her in person nearly enough, we kept up on her life on an almost daily basis. Every time I talk about Marjorie with her Grandma Jane and Grandpa Roger it is with a sense of wonder. Named after Jane’s mother, Marjorie Pay Hinckley, Mary and Derek stenciled her name on the wall before she was born: “Marjorie The girl of our dreams.”
Nothing, nothing could have prepared us for this. Not that a lingering illness or injury would make the loss of a child any easier, but everything about Marjorie radiates health, life, twirling in the kitchen, racing into the ocean. My kids they had the same reaction I did. “No. No. No.”
Two years before Marjorie was born, we mourned baby Amy with Derek and Mary– a little girl we never met or knew– and then, a series of miscarriages. We prayed and prayed for a healthy baby for our darling young friends. Do you see? Do you see why this seems especially wrong? Mary and Derek don’t need to be humbled or to learn what’s truly important. They already know. They’ve always known. Fairly often, in the past 2.5 years Mary ended a blog post with, “Pinch me. I must be dreaming.” as she rejoiced in mothering her babies. And it’s what we all wanted for them– to be deliriously happy with all the simply joys of family life. Taking Marjorie to ballet class, chocolate on her birthday, introducing her to every tiny wonder and vast mountain view.
With complete surety, Mary and Derek know they will hold both their baby girls again. Through the Atonement of Christ we will all be resurrected and if we choose, spend eternity with those we love. They know this. I know this.
But a lifetime is such a long time to wait. So so many years missing her laughter…
How can we help? My friend Lisa, Jiggy’s mom, said, “I know but I don’t know how to survive such unimaginable grief.”
I certainly don’t know. But I’ve learned a little from my friends:
1. The only words you need are “I love you.” and “I’m sorry.” No grieving parent needs preaching, platitudes or your ideas on why it happened.
2. Don’t be afraid to cry. “Your tears are a balm t0 my wound.”
3. Actions speak louder than words. Don’t ask what you can do; just find something and do it.
4. When sending messages, refrain from using phrases like, “I know we’ve never been great friends.” Those words create distance; this is a time to draw closer.
5. As time goes on, keep talking about the one they love. A parent never stops thinking about their child. You won’t make them sad. You’ll delight them.
6. If you have photos or videos, share them. Write down any tiny memories or stories and share those too.
The cruel truth– even though we’ve stopped in our tracks with sorrow– for Marjorie’s family that grief will go on and on. And while we must go back to work, to birthday parties and play dates, we increase this tragedy if we don’t let it change us. For me, I will hug my children a little tighter, delight in the every day, let go of my ambitions and relish the beauties in front of me.
I promise Mary and Derek, we will never forget your beautiful Marjorie, we will keep her in present tense, sit beside you in the dark, we will cry an ocean of tears with you, and when you are ready to laugh, we will laugh beside you. Together we’ll await the glorious day when Christ comes again, your babies run into your arms, every heart will be mended, every tear wiped away.