TORONTO — “Everything is numb, and when it’s not numb, it’s just pain.”
Those were the words Georgette Marsh used Saturday to describe her aching sorrow over the loss of her three-year-old son Elijah.
The toddler died Thursday after wandering away from his grandmother’s Toronto apartment building in the middle of a bitterly cold night dressed only in a shirt, diapers and boots.
The heart wrenching story has touched not only Toronto residents, but people across the country, and beyond.
A light snow fell Saturday, slowly blanketing a makeshift memorial of flowers and stuffed toys where mourners gathered outdoors to pay their respects to Elijah and his grieving family.
Speaking publicly for the first time about the tragedy Georgette Marsh said her son was a loving little boy, always asking her if she was OK, and offering kisses if he sensed something was wrong.
She told Toronto television station CP24 she knows that Elijah would want to comfort her now.
“I’m hearing it now. ‘Don’t cry mommy,'” she said.
Claudette Marsh, Elijah’s grandmother, spoke to CTV News about the happy, caring child who would offer to rub her tired feet when she got home from work.
“Elijah was my world, he made my day,” she said.
Elijah’s father, Curt Barry, was also struggling with his emotions, telling CP 24 “All I can do is thank God for the blessing of Elijah.”
Toronto Mayor John Tory was among the mourners at the memorial, expressing his grief as a father and grandfather, and acknowledging that a tragedy such as this could happen to anyone.
Elijah’s death prompted Justin Kozuch, a Toronto man who has a three-year-old son and nine-year-old daughter, to start a campaign on Tilt.com to help raise money for Elijah’s funeral.
As of late Saturday night the fund — which will stop accepting contributions today — had topped $150,000.
There was also a development Saturday in the case of another Toronto toddler who wandered away from home in the city’s west end in minus 14 Celsius temperatures.
Police said the naked four-year-old boy was found on Friday by a neighbour just in time, and appeared to be all right.
On Saturday the boy’s 23-year-old mother was granted bail after being charged with abandoning a child under 10.
One of the bail conditions indicates she will be unable to see her child.
Police say the identity of the woman is not being released because the child is currently under the protection of the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto.