Margaret Olivia Murphy arrived in the world in the typical manner on December 30, 2004, and she drowned on a float trip on May 24, 2009. Although dreadfully limited in quantity, Margot’s 1,972 days on earth had a special velocity to them as she made an enduring impression on countless people and places.
Her curled fire-red hair, beautiful blue eyes, contagious smile, unbridled joyfulness, outsized confidence and natural strut turned heads wherever she went. Margot’s loving nature was a gift beyond description to those blessed to know her well. There was something electric about Margot – like you could see the music in her, and it was as contagious as her smile.
Some time after Margot’s death, I began thinking that I had a responsibility to tell her story, and after six months or so, I decided it was no longer acceptable to continue postponing the effort. I decided I’d entitle each chapter of Margot’s story with a song reference, and I began typing some of my favorite lyrics.
Given Margot’s love of singing and dancing, these musical references seemed like a fitting way to attempt to illustrate her story. One of the first lines I wrote down on that Saturday when I began drafting the book came courtesy of Neil Young’s great song, “Walk On.”
Sitting alone watching football highlights later that night, I received a friend’s text message that read nothing but: “Sooner or later, it all gets real. Walk on.” I noticed the coincidence but didn’t think too much more of it until a couple weeks later.
As background, after visiting a friend’s horse stable some time before her death, Margot and her sister had determined that if I would not buy them a horse, I had to become a horse. Because it was virtually impossible to say no to Margot, I did as instructed and the girls climbed my back each night as I transported them down the hallway to their room for bedtime. As they had been taught, their daddyhorse was trained to respond to only two commands: “Ho” and Walk on.”
After May 24th, the thought of a daddyhorse ride had not even come close to crossing my mind, but walking alone down that same hallway a couple weeks later, I stopped dead in my tracks as I recalled the command an always laughing Margot had used to compel me to move forward each night. “Walk on.”
Could Margot have inspired one of her earth-bound angels to help deliver a critical message to her dad? I don’t know. Murphy’s Law dictates that where one stands on an issue depends upon where one sits, and I think it’s appropriate to view with caution this concept of reality as relative.
However, if I believe that those gone before us still exist, which I do, then it seems reasonable to me to speculate that it is at least possible that they have some means to say hello to us, or to invite us to learn something from a connection we had not previously made, or to simply lift our spirits somehow. While that may sound crazy, I think it is an equal stretch of logic to conclude it’s not possible.
As I progressed with the attempt to tell Margot’s story, I continued to perceive these instances, often at times when I was nearly paralyzed with sadness. Because it kept occurring, I began incorporating the happenings into the story.
I tried to explain each instance accurately, perpetually attempting to guard against merely describing nothing but a desperate imagination perceiving reality that had not so presented itself. However, even armed with a naturally skeptical attitude, I believed that there were signs for which mere coincidence simply was not the best explanation.
After Margot’s funeral, a friend gave us a frame with photographs of everyday items such as a tree branch, telephone pole, or wrought-iron bench forming the six letters of Margot’s name. Although not at all clear to me at first, I believe this was a most profound and vital gift that has helped to me to seek and observe evidence that Margot is still with us.
Patrick J. Murphy 2011