When Molly died, one of the first challenges was how to recognize her life. How to present her to all of her elementary and middle school aged friends. As Kenny and I stood on either side of her, surrounded by visitors on that Thursday night in early May, we decided a show was the way to go.
I wrote in my memoire how important it was to me that Molly’s friends could say goodbye to her. Loss, grief and trauma are hard enough as adults. I wanted all who desired to have the chance to say good bye to her. The visitors at the hospital taught us a lot about Molly and how she was perceived by her friends, their parents and her teachers.
MollyB The Musical would take this to a whole new level.
When Molly was 11 years old, we were sitting in the Capital Center for the Arts (pictured above). It was dress rehearsal week for Concord Dance Academy. I was in the audience with her and pretty much the entire school when she uttered the loveliest sigh. I asked her what was making her so happy. She looked at me with the sincerest look and said,
“I love it here”, she continued. “The stage, the audience, back stage, all of it, when I am here, I feel like I am home.”
This sentiment was a strong force behind the creation of MollyB The Musical. Shortly after that 2014 dance recital she performed her first play there with RB Productions. She was cast as the fiddler in Fiddler on the Roof. To say that week changed her life would be an understatement.
Molly had found her place.
She loved every aspect of the performing life. The team work, the friendships, the rush of serotonin when a show or competition was done. The last time I dropped her off at school before the school break that preceded her death, she told me again that she had found her place. Honoring her short life with a show bearing her name was a no brainer.
It was the least we could do.
One of the most traumatic experiences in my childhood was the death of my friend Moira Spellman. Like me, Moira was a bit of a tomboy. We had matching overalls; they were denim with a red front pocket. She was one of six daughters and while she lived in a big fancy house, she was as down to earth as they came. She stopped coming to school in March of 1973. Right after her 10th birthday.
She would never see 11.
I was devastated to have been kept out of the loop. I have dedicated a whole chapter of my book to this story. The secrecy around her death and the separation of this process from all of us, her 10-year-old friends, has had a lasting effect on me. Having visitors at the hospital and throwing Molly a big show not only honored Molly, it gave all who knew her permission to be a part of the story.
It has been seven years since Molly died, and this time of year remains difficult. All of the feelings come rushing back. They are a but muted now and perhaps softer but the not of fear in my stomach is strong. I lost so much more than just Molly. I lost everything I thought my life was going to be. As much as those who knew me before this terrible May want “Barb” back, that version of me died with Molly. This is what grief and loss do.
The process of recording 90 podcast episodes has taught me more than I could have imagined. The clarity with which I can now see the events of my life brings as much sadness as it does relief. If life is a lesson, then I am her to say to you all, tell your life story, you will learn more than your listeners.
Gracie and I approach the end of March with trepidation. It is followed by April, the month of birthdays and hope, which leads to May, the month of death and loss. I am quite sure there are many who tire of hearing this. I would apologize, but I am not sorry. Molly is my daughter, dead or alive, and as her mother I will continue to include her in the narrative of my life.
Still in its infancy I see the creation of this foundation as a way to talk about Molly without making people uncomfortable. I see it as a way to share what was meaningful to her with others who will never know her. I see it as a way to one day share the truth about her death and what lead to it. I have shared what I believe to be my role in it, I will now figure out a way to share the roles of others, so that Molly’s death will not be repeated in other young girls.
It will be June before long and at that time Gracie and I will let out a sigh of relief and gear up for another ten months of living with out Molly. I will hopefully have a successful book launch and release. I am already planning the next one. My life, with its crazy experiences, was at two novels before Molly died. There is so much to tell!
So get ready!!