Trying to capture the life and essence of such an extraordinary person seems impossible. Though that’s somewhat fitting, given how many times Mallory and her incredible family did the impossible. From providing a life that she described with gratitude as “incredible and fun and filled with awe and surprise” despite the challenges CF posed, to finding treatment options that defied medical knowledge and training, including breakthroughs that may very well change medical science forever. Mallory came from a family of miracle workers, who are ensuring that her legacy of helping others is continued.
Every aspect of my life is changed for the better for having known Mallory, as I’m sure is true for so many of us. I wouldn’t have met my fiancé Tyler if it weren’t for her, and she was the first person he confided in for relationship advice. Mal encouraged Tyler to “just go for it” and ask me out, though she never betrayed his confidence by relaying any of this to me. She was an incredible listener and friend.
Tyler suggested that I talk directly to Mal today, so that’s what I’m going to do. But Mal, I’m going to need your help if I’m to come close to capturing the life of the strong, brilliant, and kind person you were.
We talked about the creative ways to ensure you’d be a bridesmaid in our wedding regardless of where you were—even suggesting getting your hair and makeup done if you were in the hospital in Pittsburgh and piping you through on an iPad—but had no contingency plan for capturing your memory instead of your beautiful smile.
You wrote in one of your blog posts, “With constant adaptation comes a remarkable resilience. When my original goals become unrealistic, I compromise. When those new goals become unrealistic, I compromise again.”
And Mal, that’s what all of us who love you are doing now. Our original goal was for you to live a long, healthy, happy life with the family and career you’d always wanted. When that became unrealistic, we compromised, clinging to the hope of stealing a few more precious years with you. Since that’s now unrealistic, we compromise again. Keeping you present in our hearts, enriching our lives through the thousands of things that remind us of you everyday.
Those things that keep your memory so vivid are different for all of us, though I suspect many overlap. There are things that are just characteristically you—like yoga, the beach, volleyball, iced coffee with soymilk, and your love of dogs and the environment. And then there are the little bits of Mallory-isms that are unique to all of our relationships with you. Every time I have a “fall on the floor laughing” moment--especially over something that no one else finds funny--I think of you. Like that time Ari concluded a story with, “I’m not trying to be profound or anything,” and I replied, “Don’t worry, you weren’t” and the two of us proceeded to laugh so hard it cleared mucus from your lungs.
You had this incredible way of proving support to your friends, coupled with a beautiful honesty that made you one of my closest confidants. Like this time when we were at a bar and I lamented that a guy I’d been talking to had called me Type A, and you sagely replied, “You are Type A…but sweet!”
There are “bigger things” that remind me of you often, whether they be recounting stories from our summer in Hawaii with my sister Ari, playing our Hozier theme song on repeat, or recalling how we’d go back and forth between our favorite acai bowl spots because we liked the gluten-free granola from The Health Bar but the contents of the acai bowls from Bogarts better. Even Marriott hotels remind me of the time we hid out from Hurricane Iselle with Ari and Natasha to ensure we didn’t lose electricity .
And then there are the daily reminders that keep you top of mind everyday, like table salt, tight parking spots, foam rollers, and Whole Foods--to name only a very few. I even think of you every time I eat salsa, because of that time you picked up a tub of salsa and asked, “What's this salsa called? Medium?”
I told you on my final visit to Pittsburgh that the true reason you were an inspiration to me wasn't just because of what you endured and overcame with such grace and optimism, but because you were still so interested in other people and the world around you. You were always selflessly interested and supportive of the people in your life, so devoted to their success and happiness regardless of the challenges or uncertainties you were experiencing.
Before transplant, I used to worry about texting you too late on Eastern Time. Now I worry about all of the texts we’re both missing out on--the moments that make me want to text you and realizing that there’s no beautiful smile receiving them.
At the beginning of your final hospital stint, we were still optimistic that this was just a bump in the road. I had a barrage of questions, then worried that I’d be causing you more stress by asking you to relay the details of your battle. You replied in the most characteristically Mal way, saying “Never! You’re a source of light, not stress!” I love you for your ability to understand the intention in your friends’ hearts, knowing how strongly your squad had your back. We know that you would do anything in the world for us, as we would for you.
And now, we’re left cherishing the memories and contributions you gave us. Including this piece of wisdom, which I hope brings everyone who loves you the same comfort it brings me. “I don’t want to be happy every moment of my life — I truly believe we are more capable of experiencing deep joy when we’ve also experienced the contrast of deep pain.” I’m clinging to the hope that the deep pain we’re all experiencing from the unfairness of your promising life cut short will make the beauty of your memory that we carry with us even stronger.
We love you, Mal. We will feel your presence forever.
Scratch Notes--Stories I love that didn’t quite flow in the speech but wanted to remember anyway <3
Your mom wrote in the book Mallory’s Garden, which my sisters and I read incessantly as our favorite bedtime book for years, that one day CF will stand for “Cure Found.” Thanks to you, that’s closer than ever to coming true.
Or that time in Hawaii when we met some other 20something recent college grads staying in a hostel. When they called later that night asking to meet up, the only thing Ari and I heard on our end was you excitedly saying, “Oooh..a party? Let me consult with my cohorts.” And then we all laughed at the way you’d chosen to word that...before agreeing that we’d rather stay in that night and watch “Weeds” and eat the coconut peanut butter we’d bought at the Kailua Farmer’s Market.
Daniel climbing over the car and prompting me to call 911 because I didn't know you’d told him he could borrow a surf board
Mazda sedans, t-shirts with French writing on them that we don’t understand. Like that time you bought a shirt that says
And we decided that you’d have been better off walking around in a shirt that said “I like idiots,” because at least that could have been sarcastic, while this was fairly literal.
Our Mark Smith book club—some fantastic recommendations of which are currently on my nightstand—and how I decided to return the favor by sending you a copy of my favorite childhood book Watership Down.