This one’s a tearjerker. Just weeks after her daughter, Analiese, died on the day she was born of trisomy 10q, a rare genetic abnormality, Janice Murphy visited Walt Disney World alone, using tickets a friend had purchased for her. In her arms: a onesie-clad purple stuffed teddy bear containing the ashes of her firstborn. “Having something tangible to hold on to in my times of extreme grief is wonderful,” Murphy, 25, tells Us Weekly. “That bear went to the hospital with us. It spent time with Analiese just like we did, and now we have her remains within the bear. It's a way to hold on to her, even though she isn't with us anymore.”
While exploring the theme park in Orlando, the grieving mother wandered over to Cinderella’s fairy godmother, who was standing outside the castle.
“The first thing the fairy godmother said to me was, ‘Who do we have here?’ and motioned to the purple teddy bear,” Murphy tells Us. “I answered simply with, ‘My daughter. … She passed away and I have her ashes in the teddy bear.’ She was compassionate and empathetic and made sure to love on the bear as though it was a living, breathing child.”
After the tender encounter, Murphy — who had accompanied her husband, Stefan, 26, to Florida for military training — found herself in tears. “Our conversation made me sad but also happy, if that makes sense,” the professional cake decorator says. “I was sad because my daughter wasn't able to experience this with me, and wasn't able to interact with the fairy godmother. But the happiness stemmed from the fact that she acknowledged my grief and treated me compassionately. That kind of kindness is something that cannot be overstated, because it meant the world to me.”
Murphy detailed her experience with the fairy godmother in a now-viral Facebook post that has been shared nearly 33,000 times and garnered 11,000 likes.
“Disney is a special place for me and my husband,” says Murphy. “In May of last year, we took our very first vacation together to Disney World. … We found out we were expecting Analiese just a few weeks later. I planned to visit in the fall of 2017 with my tiny family. To me, Disney is a place that I can feel close to her.”
Murphy documented her pregnancy and Analiese’s birth on her blog. Since her daughter’s death, she has been donating her breast milk to a bank, specifically for NICU babies.