I have known Mariel Grimm for more than six years. Even in that short time, she has filled many roles in my life, including friend, running buddy, and loving sister-in-law. In the entire time I have known her, she has always been a person of great integrity, faith, and love.
One of the most striking things about Mariel is her love for children. Besides being a mother to four amazing kids, she is also an awesome auntie to the six other nieces and nephews in our lives. That love has always been a part of her life - it drove her choices in college as she pursued a degree in early education, and also in her early career as she worked at a church preschool where she eventually served as its director. It continued to fuel her as she took the opportunity to provide childcare in her own home while being with her kids while they are young. The kids who have come through her care have become like one of her own, and I know her heart is broken to be not allowed to offer comfort and care to the little boy at the heart of this situation.
I have seen that love over and over again. It is in part what makes this entire situation so tragically ironic. Who could believe that a woman who has been so truly called to love and care for little ones could ever harm one? That anyone has been convinced of this is an utter travesty.
Mariel made me believe that my mom must have been right when she swore to me that mothers have eyes in the back of their head. I can think of plenty of times where we might be chatting at a family gathering, and she's aware of exactly what's going on at any given minute with the kiddos playing around us.
There are so many moments I wish I could share with you all so that you might know this woman as I do:
Once, when we were all together at a family friend's, Andy and Mariel asked my husband to take a new family picture of the six of them. While there was eventually a frame-worthy shot with everyone seated, smiling, and looking forward ... for me, the "money shot" was one of the earlier ones. Andy and Mariel calmly sitting on the ground, smiling happily; the kiddos spinning and whirling around them like a joyful tornado. That picture encapsulates what it is to be in the presence of their family - happiness, joy, energy.
When our youngest nephew was born a year and a half ago, Mariel was away visiting her parents. The very first "family lunch" after she returned, her very first act upon entering the house was to scoop up that sweet baby for a snuggle. Absolutely none of us were surprised by her priority :).
Or, I could tell you about a picture of Mariel holding one of our nieces on a hot summer day a few years ago. At the time, I just thought to capture a cute moment. About a month later, we found out that Andy and Mariel were expecting their fourth child, and that moment took on a new sweetness for me.
There is much I could say, and certainly, I am biased. I hope in reading this, you will consider the love and trust Mariel has clearly inspired in so many of us. She is an innocent woman caught up in a nightmare. If I can beg a favor, I'd ask for your thoughts and prayers for all of us touched by this situation. It has hurt so many, not just in our family.