I first met “Little A” as I came to call her when she was a freshman in high school. She was in my personal fitness class. We hit it off immediately. She came out for Indoor Track and then became a three-season athlete for me. I think I spent every day of the week with Amy for four years.
Amy became close to my family during the spring of 2007 when her town was unreachable due to a flood. She and her sister Ashley stayed with us for a few days. Ashely went home and Amy stayed for several more days. She clearly needed an extended family, so for a while it was us.
Molly and Gracie LOVED her.
My mother and my sister Johanna were the only two people other than Kenny and I that took care of the girls. I was very over protective and wanted to know that they were safe. Amy became their person. She would sidewalk chalk the driveway with them. She would dress up with them. Hours on the couch watching Barney snuggled under a blanket was another favorite. Amy and the girls were in their element.
I feel sometimes that the universe sent Amy to us to get us ready for Molly’s death. Amy knows trauma. Her quiet life was upended when her family took in three girls who had witnessed their father murder their mother. Nothing was the same for any of them. Her family became our family. Birthday celebrations and things like trick or treating were done together. Katie, the youngest of the sisters became close with Molly. She was close with Gracie as well but she and Molly clicked.
Then Molly died.
I had kept in touch with Little A throughout her college years and thereafter. We didn’t see each other as much but she always remembered the girls. I would see a post on Facebook with a selfie taken at a surprise visit. They recreated pictures. They laughed. They went for Coffee Coolatas. When Molly died Amy came to the hospital to say goodbye.
I was amazed at how well she handled this.
Amy has an advanced degree in counseling. She works with families around trauma and grief. I believe her childhood was also a training for all of the families she would one day help. Mine included. She has been a mainstay for Gracie. Her youngest sister Katie was devastated when Molly died. She has pulled Katie in to our loving circle. Her mother Jannine and I have become good friends. We share a love for Vodka.
Then I performed her wedding.
She met her now husband Josh shortly after she graduated college. An online dating meetup, they were meant to be together. Josh is amazing. They moved to Wisconsin in 2017 and began their life. When they got engaged, they asked me to officiate their wedding. It was an easy yes!
It was in the months leading up to their “first double secret wedding” that I experienced my brain tumor removal. Amy called me a few days after my still secret diagnosis to share an experience she had at a company holiday party. The caterer came up to her and asked her if her name started with “A”, or did she have a nickname with “A” in it. (We call her Little A). It took a while but essentially Molly was hounding this woman who was a medium. She could typically shut those connections off when necessary but she had never met Molly. When I answered the phone Amy asked me “What is wrong with you?” I had not shared the tumor diagnosis yet. She found out from Molly. When I told her I had the brain tumors her response was “Molly says its not your time”.
Molly shared a lot with Amy that night.
Josh and Amy moved their double secret first wedding to Superbowl weekend so I could perform it. I had my head cut open January 10th. I flew to Wisconsin bald and scarred on January 30th. The wedding was February 2nd. I performed their “white dress” wedding the following August. The maroon dress I wore has significance that I will be share when I tell the full story of Amy and Josh.
I am writing this on their lanai if Florida.
We are here for our 7th Annual “since Molly died escape from the holidays” vacation. We flew into an airport near them. An arrival dinner and a relaxing next day to start our week. Jack Jack loves Molly Grace. Amy’s first daughter is named after Molly and Gracie. Her 5-week-old second daughter Charlie (Charlotte Marion) is impossibly perfect.
We have done a lot of sitting. Jack took a nap. Amy had the luxury of a long uninterrupted shower. We have had the luxury of a relaxing day in a place where we are safe to be ourselves. Florida is in a cold spell so Josh is busy covering outdoor plants with tarps. It is a very normal day.
We will leave soon for my friend Deb’s house. We have spent all but two of these trips at her house. We will get Johanna and “B” and then head to Disney. We will have fun. We will forget the painful parts. We will incorporate the comforting ones. We are creating Christmas traditions for Jack.
Today we made Amy, Josh, Molly and Charlie a part of it.
Merry Christmas Little A.