It’s hard not to remember such a remarkable little girl as Mari. I know that I might be a tad bit biased, but I also know how this one little girl touched so many people’s lives in ways I never could have imagined.
In the two weeks prior to Mari contracting E. coli, she was in a special summer school program as well as a camp for special needs children. She went to summer school Monday through Thursday until around 1pm and then a bus picked her up and took her to camp. On Friday’s she got to go to this camp all day. It was a really neat program because they also had bus service so she was picked up in the morning and also dropped off this way.
At camp she had a very special aide by the name of Lillian. I had only met her once or twice at camp. This young woman loved Mari and also loved working with her. Lillian seemed to always be smiling as Mari smiles were contagious I think.
The reason I remember Lillian so well now is because Mari impacted her life in a way I never imagined before. Lillian came both to the wake and the funeral along with several others at the camp. She cried hard over our loss at both the wake and funeral. She even got up and spoke at the funeral when I asked people to share their special memories of our little girl.
Lillian told me later how much Mari truly impacted her life. I asked her to write a dedication for Mari’s memoir. I hadn’t planned to share this as it’s part of the book, but I feel lead to share it here with you to show you how just one person can impact another. The truly beautiful part about this is due to Mari’s autism, Mari had now way of knowing she was doing this.
“Every day was an adventure working with Mariana at day camp. I remember trying to keep her clean throughput the day, saying the “pledge of allegiance,” playing with her on the gymnastic mats, and trying to keep up with her. The best times were when we were both laughing or when she would smile. I never would have thought one little girl would have impacted my life so much. She opened my eyes to a whole new world where I realized I wanted to work with kids just like Mariana. There still isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of her and miss her terribly. When I look at her picture, I think of all of the wonderful memories we have and remember that one day we will meet again.”