02/26/2015 10:49 EST | Updated 04/28/2015 05:59 EDT

Lessons From the Life of Three-Year-Old Elijah Marsh

Toronto Police

There is no silver lining in the tragic death of three-year-old Elijah Marsh. We want one, oh how we want one. We want to know that the gorgeous toddler with the infectious smile didn't die in vain. We want a lesson to hold on to; This might help make sense of an accident so senseless and devastating it hurts to contemplate.

My eyes are raw from weeping. I toss and turn at night.

Like many of you, I see Elijah over and over again, the sparkle of life in his eyes, those dimpled, kissable cheeks, the spirit of a curious toddler grinning in photographs. It is easy to see how very loved he is, and how much he loved others. And we are haunted.

We see the adorable boy wandering out of his grandmother's North York apartment and into the extreme cold at 4 a.m. on a Thursday, wearing only a diaper, T-shirt and boots. We look at the video surveillance photo, with little Elijah staring up at the great, big door, and we desperately wish we had the power to turn back time and make him turn back.

But he doesn't and we can't.

We imagine the last hours of his life and cry an ocean of tears for him. Elijah's tiny body was found next to an air conditioner between two homes just a few blocks away, six hours after leaving the apartment. He was pronounced dead in hospital a short time later.

We imagine this, and we want to wrap him up in our oversized coats, collect him in our arms and hug him and warm him. We want, with everything in us, to bring this sweet boy back to life. We are saddened and sickened, riddled with what-ifs.

It is impossible to comprehend the depths of grief Elijah's mother Georgette is going through. It is impossible to understand the weight of her loss: it is a force of sorrow unlike any other.

Saying sorry won't mend the pain. Neither will money. We know this, but we want to do something -- anything we can.

This story has shaken the city to its core. An online crowdfunding campaign to help cover funeral costs surpassed its $20,000 goal, generating more than $173,000 in donations. This is because it is something we can do. But we want to do so much more.

To the family of Elijah Marsh, we are mourning with you with everything we have. Our hearts are heavy. We ache for you.


To Elijah's mother, with great sadness we look at the photograph of your son kissing your cheek. Your joy radiates. You are both beaming. This is love -- a mother's love, a child's love. And there is nothing in the world that is stronger than that, nothing that can take it away.

People often say that loved ones are still with us when they pass on, but I hope you know that in Elijah's case, it is true. Your beautiful baby is still with us. He is inspiring us live better, love better and to recognize the precious fragility of every small moment.

He is bringing out the best in people, bringing strangers together, teaching us the power of true empathy. We are collectively grieving the loss of his young life.

Elijah is reminding us to hug our children tighter and say I love you more often, for we never know when we might have to say goodbye. He is telling us that life can be short -- cruelly short -- yet so very, very sweet.

What a beautiful, beautiful boy.

He has taught us to be kinder and more conscientious, to be present and grateful, and these are no small things. We are blessed to have shared this world with him.

The family has extended an invitation to the public wishing to attend the visitation, funeral and burial services for Elijah. A visitation will be held Thurs. Feb. 26 from 2 p.m. - 9 p.m. at Vescio Funeral Home, 2080 Dufferin St. in Toronto.

The funeral is being held Saturday at 11 a.m. at St. Matthew's United Church at 729 St. Clair Ave. W., with a burial to follow at Prospect Cemetery at 1450 St. Clair Ave. W.

Meanwhile a Facebook memorial page has also been set up where condolences can be shared.