Where and What Exactly, is Motherland?


Barb Higgins showing us her new book Motherland
Barb Higgins showing us her new book Motherland

I knew for a long time that I wanted to write a book. The first time it came to mind was about 30 years ago. I have always lived a life full of crazy experiences, from triumph to tragedy and all of the unbelievable stuff in between. Several years before Molly died my friend Deb declared that she would write the first chapter.

She didn’t have to, we traveled into Motherland.

 As I write this blog it is September 1st. Sitting next to me on my desk is a physical copy of Motherland, the memoir that Virgina MacGregor created through listening to my story. Without her it would remain in my head, available only to those who asked.

 Here I am holding it.

I love this picture.

The writing on the window was put there roughly 13 years ago. Window pens were all the rage for a while in our house. Now that Molly is gone, I do not have the heart to wash those windows. In the reflection you can see a painting of Gracie and Molly. They brought it home for me from Hershey Park.

It was Molly’s last Labor Day weekend as a physical being.

All of my physical imperfections (or perfect examples of 60 years here) are clear on my face. I am looking at Jack and Kenny as I snap the selfie. All of the sofa cushions are on the floor and Jack is jumping into them. Kenny is falling asleep after a long day with the sweet boy. Gracie is away with B in Texas like any 22-year-old should be! I sent this picture to her right after I took it.


I can not yet look at the book without crying. As a mother with a child (or two) in heaven I spend a lot of time grieving this loss. I worry that Molly will disappear. I ache to talk about her. Committing her story to print is a wonderful and terrifying step in keeping her alive.

What if no one wants to read it.

This sentiment is the whiny child inside of me looking for reassurance. I know quite well a lot of people will read it. It is a story that encapsulates the idea of motherhood being a country, a vast landscape with both predictable and surprising landscapes. A child dies, her sister grieves, her mother as she knew her disappears, a brother arrives.

Are we happy or sad?


I will do book signings and presentations when it is available for purchase. I will answer the questions, I will share the stories, I will read the words. Like an uphill race on a hot day, I will both anticipate and dread these events. I am good in public though; it will be ok. I want to read it for Audible as I desire my voice to say the words.

I am not sure I will be able to pull this off.

Chapter 32 is called “My Island”. In it here I talk about the families I met after Molly died. We all belong to online support groups. I would not have survived without those groups and those people. A boy named Vinnie caught my eye almost immediately. His Dad, ER Meiers was a force online. Sharing all of it, the good, the bad, the ugly. Vinnie came to me after my brain surgery. He died very suddenly in March of 2013, three years before Molly. E R was well into his journey when I “met him. He was one of the first “children” I met in those dark days of June 2016.

He and his dad are part of me now.

ER Meiers
ER Meiers and his son Vinnie

ER died this past week.

Here he is in a picture someone created for him after Vinnie died. ER looks well here. He had a lot of health issues. His heart attack is not a surprise. It came less than a week after his mother died. I believe he died of a broken heart.

He couldn’t wait to see the book.

He was a huge support to me not only for Molly, but also for my brain tumor journey. I am devastated. He never got to see the book. Vinnie will be a part of Molly’s story forever. I am a bit of a mess today as are the hundreds of moms and dads ER helped. We will miss him. His wife Jules and son Ed Jr will as well. Love and loss, joy and grief, triumph and tragedy, yesterday and today, and perhaps tomorrow.

Jules and Ed Jr will navigate life without E R. I will navigate selling a book.

This is life in Motherland.

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