We have had a long and tough week. I wanted to share a little bit about what we have been dealing with as we try to recover from everything that has been going on. I started to type this up the other day, and what was supposed to be a blog post ended up being a several-page long journal entry instead… so I hope you don’t mind that I’ve shortened it and put up just a few thoughts instead of many.
Our good friend Marina Toffanelli-Birch passed away last Saturday, October 9th. She was 30 years old.
We had the opportunity to attend both of her funeral services. The first was held in Las Vegas on Wednesday morning, which we were able to go to because I had a last-minute fill-in for my shift at work, and a funeral and burial service was held in Alpine, Utah on Friday morning. Marina and I were good friends, and I loved her very much. We are so sad for her loving husband Dustin.
We met Dustin and Marina in 2004 when Spencer and Dustin both started law school at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg. Our friends Clint and Mindy had a big party at their house the week before school started and invited all the young Mormon law-student-couples. We met them at this party. Marina is from Sao Paulo, Brazil, but speaks beautiful English. We were introduced, and before she really spoke to me, I remember thinking that I should try hard to be extra nice to this foreign girl so that she would feel comfortable with all of us Americans around her. I learned a few seconds later that this would not be necessary. She was so friendly and talkative and fluent and fun that I was instantly so comfortable around her and wanted to spend time with her.
Marina was one of the most vivacious and enjoyable people that I knew. Her laugh was infectious and her love and friendship for others was overwhelming. One of my favorite things about Marina was her honesty and her sense of humor. She is a wonderful person, beautiful inside and out, and we greatly miss her presence in our lives. Our hearts go out to Dustin that he may be comforted at this difficult time. We love you Dustin, and you always are in our thoughts and prayers.