How “Aunt Lindsey” left a legacy of lovingness


Lindsey Marglous center  with her nephew Sawyer Merlin left and niece Lila Merlin hamming it up at Candytopia a candy themed pop up in New York City in 2018    

Ellen Futterman, Editor-in-Chief

Lately, I’ve been thinking about legacies — how they happen, what they mean, how we hope to be remembered, how we actually are remembered. Maybe these thoughts have something to do with the realization that I have lived many more years than are likely left — not that I’m going anywhere soon, at least I hope not — but mortality is a fact of life. Most of us would like to leave this earth feeling as if we made a positive difference in the world, and certainly in the lives of those who matter most to us.

Lindsey Rae Marglous certainly made a huge difference in the lives of her nephew Sawyer Merlin, 15, and niece Lila Merlin, 12. To explain, let’s rewind to March 2020, when COVID became a worldwide pandemic and Sawyer, Lila, their parents, Rob and Melissa Merlin, and Aunt Lindsey were supposed to travel to Israel for Sawyer’s bar mitzvah. The trip, as you might have guessed, was canceled.

Lila,and Aunt Lindsey

By October of 2020, Sawyer and Lila had decided to join forces to celebrate their b’nai mitzvah together at Temple Emanuel with Rabbi Elizabeth Hersh. The first person they called to help them with their mitzvah project was Aunt Lindsey, knowing her creativity and flair for fun would make whatever they did special.

About a week after that call, Lindsey started feeling poorly. At the time, she was at her dad’s home in Miami, quarantining with him there.

“We spoke to her on Saturday, Oct. 24th,” recalled Lindsey’s sister, Melissa Merlin. “On Sunday, the 25th, she said she couldn’t talk because she was going on a date. On Monday, the 26th, she said she couldn’t get out of bed.”

Her plan all along was to come to St. Louis to spend the upcoming Halloween weekend with her niece and nephew. But she was feeling so unwell that her brother-in-law Rob Merlin flew to Miami to bring her back to St. Louis.

On Nov. 2, 2020, Lindsey was diagnosed with cancer; eventually, it was determined she had Stage 4 metastatic lung cancer. She had 17 brain tumors when it was discovered. She passed away 28 days later — on Nov. 30 of that year — at the age of 38.

“We spent a lot of time after her passing trying to figure out how to incorporate her spirit into the b’nai mitzvah,” said Rob Merlin, when we spoke over the weekend. “After my wife and maybe even before me, Lindsey was their favorite person.”

Both Sawyer and Lila considered Aunt Lindsey a second mother. She was vivacious and smart, holding dual master’s degrees in psychology, and she adored cycling and spinning. Sawyer, too, a rising sophomore at MICDS, shares a love of cycling with Lindsey and his uncle (Lindsey and Melissa’s brother) Matt Marglous. In fact, as a freshman, Sawyer won a silver medal in his age group at the Cyclocross State Championships.

So he and his sister, with their parents’ help, connected with Pedal the Cause, which raises money for cancer research at Siteman Cancer Center and for Siteman Kids at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. This year’s Pedal the Cause cycling event will be held on Sept. 25, a few weeks after Sawyer and Lila’s b’nai mitzvah. Since its inception in 2009, the organization has raised nearly $37 million for cancer research, and all those dollars stay in St. Louis.

“I think Aunt Lindsey would be proud of us and what we are doing, wanting to help other people with cancer,” said Sawyer.

He and Lila know its ambitious, but they have organized a cycling team — Merlin Mitzvah Riders — with the goal of raising $25,000 for cancer research here. As of this writing, they have raised more than $14,000.

They’re urging all of us to participate and help pay tribute to their beloved Aunt Lindsey’s legacy by either joining their cycling team, spinning in person at Chesterfield Mall or from afar in Lindsey’s Spin Zone (a virtual ride you can do at home) and/or making a donation online.

Says Sawyer: “When I think of my Aunt Lindsey, I think of someone who is caring and loving and artsy. When she was at our house, she always wanted to do something with us like a project or activity.”

Sawyer said he still has a congratulatory sign pinned up in his room that Lindsey made when he graduated from elementary school. He also hangs on to a note she wrote after she got sick, saying how much she wanted to see him and Lila when she got better.”

Melissa Merlin says her sister’s optimism, can-do attitude and free spirit nature all added to her allure.

“She had a wonderful heart. She wanted everyone to pursue their passion and she encouraged others to follow their own path, and not necessarily the straight and narrow. She also had such empathy for others.”

Added Sawyer: “When I think of her, what comes to mind is a legacy of lovingness.”