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Welcome to the memorial page for

Marisa McDowell

February 17, 1978 ~ December 14, 2017 (age 39)


Marisa Star McDowell - February 17, 1978 - December 14, 2017.

Memorial: Sunday 12/17/17 @ 4:00pm: Red Lion Hotel - 161 West 600 South - Salt Lake City

Can a mother even ever imagine how to write an obituary for her first-born child. In order to write this with any consciousness whatsoever, I will frame this mentally as a Tribute and not an obituary.

Marisa was a whopping 6# 6oz when she was born at Allen Memorial Hospital in Soda Springs Idaho, where I was living at the time. I was 23 years old & knew we needed to be independent so we moved to Salt Lake City when she was 2 weeks old and we started our life together as a single Mom with the cutest baby in town.

During this era, I married Scott McDowell and quite frankly I believe he married me to be able to claim Marisa. She was his little doll and he pushed forward with adoption proceedings as soon as he could legally do so. Marisa’s soulmate was born 2 days short of Marisa’s 2nd birthday (you’re welcome Natalie) and she took her new role as Big Sister very seriously. Marisa schooled anybody who tried to discipline her baby Nat and as a result was seriously idolized by her for life. In the following 5 years, 3 more siblings joined the family and Marisa was the rock that was always there for me as a Mom and for them as a steward. Ryan Scott was followed by Amanda Leigh and finally Mathew Harrison. Marisa was literally my right hand as I was swallowed by a cloud of baby-dom for several years.  

The pivotal moment in her abbreviated life happened when she was a mere 3 years old. We had an unusually wet spring, complete with extreme flooding and she became very sick with breathing issues. I rushed her to Primary Children’s hospital and we soon discovered she had asthma. My prayer has been continuous since this one episode; please help her breathe. Our family was very familiar with midnight rushes to the ER, Marisa sitting with a nebulizer at her side, giggling like she always did. I could talk about all kinds of pain here as memories flood my mind - but I’ll say this instead. She LOVED to tease and joke…. Loved it. And for the past 35 years has blamed me for her disdain for applesauce. When she was first diagnosed, there was no such thing as inhalers etc. so I was required to give her pills orally. I dare you to try to give a 3 year old a pill and just have them swallow it. Uh-Huh. So I turned into a magician, utilizing absolutely any method possible to get these precious pills into her little body. Unfortunately we didn’t have anything near to what is available now in the way of cool food for kids, so I was stuck with applesauce or yogurt (not the fancy kind we now have). She would roll the applesauce around in her mouth instead of just swallowing it, find the pill and spit it out. Ah! The frustration a tired young mother would feel….. But we kept at it until the development of more superior methods of asthma control.

I told Natalie today that if somebody approached me and said they’d give me a million dollars if I could list every trip we made to the Emergency Room up to the present day, I’d have to forego the money (but I’d probably try, fyi). Her life, although full and gloriously happy, was always darkened with her breathing issues. She didn’t let it slow her down, dammit, but it certainly was her families #1 concern wherever we were and whatever we did. Her siblings all have ER stories they can share, from when they were very young.

In this period of time, I had divorced Scott and married Kevin Fitzgerald who came complete with 4 new Sibs for my kids. It wasn’t even hours from their initial meeting that these darlings became full-fledged siblings to my 5. My “other kids”, for lack of a better description, filled our hearts and became lifelong family members. Brothers Kris, Josh, T.J. and Sister Josie were soon subjected to the same regimen that her 5 sibs had been: Musical productions to be filmed on Mom’s video camera. I will always be so very grateful that even when I didn’t have the money to buy it, I figured out how to always have a way to record my kids. I knew they would enjoy watching their antics on the screen and man oh man. We have HOURS of footage of the 9 of them singing, dancing, doing hilarious (well…. To US) skits and the like. Marisa discovered the movie ‘The Newsie’s’ & between her & Kris, the kids were required to adhere to a strict rehearsal schedule, most of which was filmed. I’m sure it was for the Directors to be able to critique their Sibs performances to improve their act. They performed at various venues including family reunions and our wedding. Marisa’s heart grew with love exponentially when the Fitz Kids joined my tribe. She was finally not the oldest in the family and could leave some of that role for Kris to pick up, which he did with grace. Many of Marisa’s fondest memories included the experiences, trips and shenanigans we had with the Fitz Kids and her love for them was unwavering and soul-deep. We had moved to Moab in 1993 and that became home base for all those cool kids.

After High School, Marisa decided her heart was actually in Yellowstone Park and she relocated to work there for several years where she met her BFF Jen Turnbull Alonso. They were Sisters from another mother and have loved each other from afar ever since. This is also around the time she met Chris Henri in Montana, where they were dear friends. Marisa moved back to Salt Lake when she was expecting a baby, who turned out to be the Love of her life, Noah Lee Henri.

There are not enough words to express how incredibly impressed I was with her as she walked through her pregnancy. We attended a “Hypno-Birthing” class, as I had recently become a certified Hypnotherapist and was sold on the idea. She practiced diligently throughout her pregnancy, which paid off tremendously when the event happened. Both Natalie and Chris will attest to the fact that Marisa basically slept through her entire labor until we woke her up to deliver! She was amazing - a rock star. As I’m writing this, I can hear her voice in my head …. “That’s Right. I’m amazing. It’s really hard being as cool as me.” All y’all who know her can hear the sarcastic tone she’d use!

Marisa, Chris & Noah moved back to Moab where they both worked to raise the boy. There are so many stories that can be told about Noah and what an amazing energy he brought to the planet. The love and attention that was showered on this unusual person helped mold him into the compassionate, intelligent, inquisitive man-child he is today. As often happens in life, Marisa & Chris agreed to part ways but they Never parted on their mutual love and adoration of Noah. Chris soon met & paired up with Tessa Groff and Noah had a new Mother-figure when he visited his Dad. It was love at first sight for them both!

Marisa made the decision to move to Montana when Noah was 5. One thing we can all agree upon is that she lived her life on her own terms and in her own particular way, even though we may not have agreed with her on some issues. As she was known to always do, she made many friends in Montana. Our family wishes to acknowledge the love of her life here: Frank Vincent. Marisa and Frank were such a darling couple who were head over heels in love. Circumstances weren’t working out the best for Marisa & Noah in Montana, so we brought her to Salt Lake to hopefully improve the situation for them both. This worked out great for Chris & Tessa and they started a regular weekly schedule of spending time and building a life with Noah.

Marisa worked very hard at her job. I failed to mention that she had worked for me at different times of her life at our Real Estate office. She was extremely efficient and such a competent employee. I knew I could trust her with anything - she would handle it or find out the reason why. After years of working in the lodging industry where she was nick-named ‘Sunshine’ by employers and co-workers alike, she decided she was done with a desk job. She started in the Service Deli world in Belgrade Montana and continued when she relocated to Salt Lake. Anybody she worked for or with could never exude enough glowing adjectives to express how impressed they were with her work ethic and competency level. She rose quickly in whatever area she was employed. Her most recent workplace was Harmon’s at the Brickyard and she leaves a devastated group of co-workers there.

Marisa has been sick off & on for a month or so. Her health has always been at the top of my Obsessive/Compulsive list and I have monitored (read: nagged) her continually for the past 39 years. I am stunned that death won this one. I truly believed she would always be with me, teasing, laughing, grumbling, giggling….. My heart and soul are ripped open. There are jagged pieces flapping in the incessant wind. My precious daughter, my darling Marisa is gone.

I would like to acknowledge the following (Please, dear ones. Do not be disappointed if your name isn’t listed. She loved everyone she ever met and they loved her).

First and Foremost: Noah Lee Henri - Your mother loved you beyond any reason and unconditionally. She will always be with you and you know that.

Chris & Tessa Henri (and extended family) - you are offering Marisa’s child the gift of family, stability and Life. We, her immediate family, have no words that can adequately express our gratitude and commitment to helping you in the stewardship of your son.

Siblings, her People. Her personal Tribe and the people she loved most in the world, in order of appearance on the planet: Kris, Josh, Natalie, T.J., Ryan, Josie, Amanda & Mathew (Harrison). I cannot say what I cannot put into words. You all know what was in her heart.

Shel Peterson: Her ‘other mother’. You could never actually be her mother because you were one of her best friends. You took such loving care and were not only her friend, but her confidant. I know you’ll miss her forever.

Grandma Waters - she was your go-to gal and she loved it. You were the best grandma she could have ever had and I know you’ll miss her forever.

Beloved Nieces and Nephews: You were another huge light in her life! Simon, Maggie, Emily, Gracie, Evie, Charlie, Hattie & Frankie.

Aunts, Uncles & Cousins, one & all: Janelle, JoEllin, John, Leyla, Jessica, Stephanie, Joey, Jack, David, Lauren & James. You all were Such an important part of her life and she loved each of you deeply.

Friends and Other loved ones: Frank, Jen, Brandon, Ben, co-workers by the score, all of her siblings friends and so many, too many to mention by name.

The end of the Tribute is here and so I say with my broken heart:

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,

Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,

Silence the pianos and with muffled drum

Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead

Scribbling on the sky the message she Is Dead,

Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,

Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

She was our North, our South, our East and West,

Our working week and our Sunday rest,

Our noon, our midnight, our talk, our song;

I thought that she would last forever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now: put out everyone;

Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;

Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.

For nothing now can ever come to any good.

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