Rest in Peace, Dear Elijah

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At 2:04 PM on February 19, 2015, the Toronto Police tweeted the following impossibly sad news:
We regret to announce that 3yr old #Elijah has died. Our thoughts are with his family, and all affected by this tragedy #PrayForElijah.

Ten hours earlier, at around 4:00 AM, little Elijah March had snuck out of his family’s apartment wearing only a T-shirt, diapers, and boots. A security camera in the building snapped a grainy picture of him at the big glass door that separated the safety of the bright, warm lobby from the deadly darkness outside. The temperature was -40°C with the wind chill.

ElijahBy the time his family woke and a search was launched, it was six hours later. The police and frantic volunteers scoured Elijah’s neighborhood. Dogs were brought in to help. The family was inconsolable. People tweeted that they were praying.

Elijah was found in a corner of a yard about a block away from his home. He had no vital signs. Nonetheless, with sirens blazing, an ambulance raced him to a nearby hospital. We all held our breath and hoped.

Didn’t some small children recover from such tragedies, from literally freezing to death? Didn’t Elijah’s Biblical namesake himself return from the dead?

What was happening in that emergency room? For several hours, there were no updates. What little hope we had evaporated in the clear, frigid air like the plumes of steam rising above the Toronto skyline, from the warm buildings, our safe havens.

The day is turning to night as I write this, and I wonder who will be outside in the cold tonight. What child…or homeless person? The only comfort I can find is in knowing that I cared about Elijah’s suffering, that I mourn his death. And that for the one who sees even a little sparrow when he falls, his life mattered and his death has not gone unnoticed.

2 Comments
  1. tucsonmike says

    A sad story, well told.

  2. Maya Kavita says

    From Canada’s CBC network on Sunday, February 22:

    The mother of Elijah Marsh is thanking those who have donated to an online fundraiser in support of funeral costs for the family, saying it means more to them “than anyone can imagine.”

    The heart wrenching story has touched not only Toronto residents, but people across the country, and beyond.

    “Thank you to every single person who has thought of Elijah during this time,” Georgette Marsh said in a statement released Sunday. “Your love has shone a light on us and his memory lives on through all of you.”

    Elijah’s death prompted Justin Kozuch, a Toronto man who has a three-year-old son and nine-year-old daughter, to start a campaign on Tilt.com to help raise money for Elijah’s funeral. “I cannot thank Justin enough for taking it upon himself to create this trust fund in memory of my baby boy,” Marsh said. “His actions have led an entire country to band together in support of Elijah and that means more to my family and me than anyone can imagine.”

    More than $172,000 was raised in the online campaign by mid-Sunday afternoon, which started with an initial goal of $20,000 and was to end at 5 p.m. ET on Sunday. “All of the money being raised is being donated to the Marsh family. I’d love to see them use the funds to start a scholarship or a grant in Elijah’s name, but I’ll leave it to them to decide how they want to use the funds we’ve raised,” Kozuch said. Kozuch said the money will be put into an account for the Marsh family before being transferred to a location of their choosing.

    A second fundraiser started by Maria Petrov and the Toronto Mommies Facebook group has also raised more than $4,100 as of Sunday to “lessen the financial burden” for the Marsh family.

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