Remembering Molly (4 months)

by Kathy on August 17, 2008 · 11 comments

in Bob, Godparents, Healing, Loss, Milestones, Molly, Sean, Song Lyrics, The 17th

Today is the four month milestone since our Molly-girl was born and went to Heaven. As I have done in prior months on the 17th, I wanted to take some time out today to honor the memory of our daughter and Sean’s baby sister by sharing with you about something special to our family that helps us to continue to remember our baby girl.

The photo to the left is a picture of an original water color painting by Jack Simmerling, a local artist from our Chicago neighborhood. The painting is called “Magnolias on Longwood.”

The week before Molly’s memorial service in May I had been thinking about what type of picture I might like to get in honor of Molly for our home. We have a family tradition on my mom’s side of the family, that began with her parents, that when a child is born rather than giving flowers that will only last a few days, a fine art print is framed and matted and given to be hung in the family’s home as a lasting gift in honor of the child’s birth. When my sister and I were each born, my mom’s parents gave my mom and dad Andrew Wyeth paintings that still hang in their living room today.

When Sean was born my mom asked Bob and I if we would like for them to do the same thing for us in lieu of flowers. We loved the idea on many levels, one being we had just moved into our first house and didn’t have much to hang on the walls. Recognizing that everyone doesn’t have the same taste in art, my parents offered that we could choose the print and even the frame and matting. The spring and summer that I was pregnant with Sean I planted my first garden in the backyard of our new home, where we still live now five years later. So in honor of our garden, our new home and the new life we were expecting we chose “The Artist’s Garden at Argenteuil” by Claude Monet. I have always loved impressionist art and especially Monet. My parents thoughtfully and generously gave it to us after Sean was born and it has hung beautifully in our living room ever since.

At some point during our pregnancy with Molly my parents let us know that whatever happened with Molly that they still wanted to offer us a gift to honor her birth. Once we all realized she would most likely not live much past her birth, if at all, they told us they would be willing to either contribute to the headstone for her grave or a picture for our home. We were touched by their thoughtful and generous offer and considered both options. At that point we had decided we would get her a headstone regardless and thus we realized that we wanted to still get a print to have in honor of Molly’s birth, even though she would likely never live to see it. For awhile I looked at online poster stores at fine art prints trying to decide which one might be fitting to help us to remember Molly. However nothing jumped out at me and eventually I figured we didn’t need to rush, that in time we would find something that would be right.

So that week before Molly’s memorial service I was looking through our local paper when I noticed an ad for a local art gallery in our neighborhood. I saw that there was a website and decided to look it up. I had recalled seeing prints of the gallery’s featured artist Jack Simmerling’s painting in friends’ homes over the years since we have lived here. The website had a page that had thumbnails photos of many of Mr. Simmerling’s paintings. I started browsing them and it dawned on me how cool it could be for the print we might get in Molly’s honor to have been done by a local artist. Much of Mr. Simmerling’s work is of famous Chicago building and monuments. Though I really liked many of those and considered them for our choice, they didn’t strike me as having a connection to our journey with our baby girl.

As I continued to look at the various pictures I came across a print that had a long sidewalk that seemed to lead you into the picture. Lining the sidewalk were Magnolia trees with tulips and daffodils at the bases of their trunks. At the time Molly was born and died this spring the Magnolia trees were in bloom on our block and all around our neighborhood. I will always think of Molly when I see them in future springs, as in my final days of our pregnancy with her, and after she went to Heaven, I seemed to pass them everywhere I went. After Molly died some of our friends and family members gave us fresh tulips, as they were also in season then, so I loved that they were in the picture too. As you can imagine, I was so drawn to this picture and it didn’t take me long to realize that this was the perfect print for us to get to have in our home to remember Molly!

We certainly had other things that we/I should have been focusing on that afternoon, the day before Molly’s memorial service after which we were having a reception at our home. However, I just felt so compelled to know if the print was even available, that I decided to call the gallery and inquire. I ended up speaking directly to the artist Jack Simmerling himself! I asked about the print and explained that I would want to have it framed and matted. He said that they did that there, however he actually had a copy of the print already framed and matted and if I liked the way it looked we could buy it already complete. He described the matting and frame and it sounded like it would go well with the colors of the walls in our home. Mr. Simmerling explained that the copy already framed was a “glicee” print and thus a bit more expensive than a typical fine art print. He gave me a price quote, which did seem a little pricey, however I just felt like this was meant to be. So I asked him to hold it for me so we could come take a look. Then I convinced Bob to add it to our list of last minute errands that afternoon, for if we liked it as is, we could buy it and have it in our home in time for the reception after Molly’s memorial the next day!

When we got to the art gallery, Mr. Simmerling was with another customer, so his daughter, who helps him to run the place took care of us. She brought us the framed picture and told us that when her father had taken it off the wall they realized that it wasn’t a glicee print after all, that it was the ORIGINAL painting!!! She explained that he said that he knew he had already given me the quote and was willing to still sell it to us for that price if we wanted it and she told us that it was a pretty good deal for an original watercolor painting by an artist like Mr. Simmerling, though of course she was somewhat biased. As you can imagine, at this point I was blown away! Bob knows me well enough to know that I believe in signs and that things happen for a reason and so it didn’t take much to convince him that we had to have this painting in our home to honor our Molly-girl! We liked the matting and frame and the next thing we knew we were driving home with our first original piece of fine art in the back of our minivan.

Ultimately the painting, pictured at the beginning of this post, called “Magnolias on Longwood” is hanging in our upstairs hallway in between Sean and our bedrooms. Bob, Sean and I see it everyday when we pass it. Sean can actually see it from his bed, we can see it from our upstairs bathroom while we brush our teeth, I can see it from our bedroom when I am standing in front of my dresser, you get the idea… The painting is filled with so much beauty and light. As you can see from the picture it is one of those that you feel as if you could just walk right into. In some ways it is how I envision Molly’s Heaven might look like.

Another thing I love about the picture is that over the past few years when I was learning to run (I had never run for exercise until about 2 1/2 years ago), part of the regular route that I took in our neighborhood, which was also part of the route for the first 5K I ever ran in, was on Longwood Drive (which was the inspiration for the painting). Running is something that over these past years dealing with secondary infertility, miscarriages and now neonatal loss, that has been very therapeutic for me.

Another special thing about “Magnolias on Longwood” is that it doesn’t only hang in our home. After we bought the original, I went back to the gallery and discovered that they had smaller prints of “Magnolias on Longwood” matted and framed there. Since it has become very meaningful to our extended family too, my sister, her fiance, Bob, Sean and I decided to go in on one this year in June for our dad (Molly’s maternal grandfather) for Father’s Day. My sister and her fiance also liked it so much, especially being that they are Molly’s Godparents, that Bob, Sean and I ended up getting one for them as an early wedding gift (they are getting married in September). So now my parents and Molly’s Godparents get to see the picture in their homes and think about our baby girl every day too.

We didn’t tell Mr. Simmerling and his daughter the story of our journey with Molly the day we bought the original painting, our emotions were still too new and raw. However, one of the subsequent times that I returned to purchase the prints for my father and my sister and her fiance I told his daughter the whole story and said that she was welcome to share with her father why his wonderful painting meant so much to our family.

Thank you for reading about this special painting that hangs in our home and reminds us every day how blessed we were and continue to be for having had our Molly Marie in our life. I am going to leave you with the lyrics to another song that has been therapeutic for me to listen to since Molly died. I can really relate to so many of the words at this time in my life. But first, a quick story about the song from this weekend, when Bob, Sean and I spent some time at the Benson family cottage in Michigan. As I often do while we are there, yesterday I went for a run along the beautiful lake where the cottage is located. When I run by myself, as I did yesterday, I listen my Ipod Shuffle. As I have shared with some of you before, at certain times in my life I have felt that God and/or loved ones who have died (including most recently Molly) will “DJ” to me. Sometimes I will turn on the radio and a song that is/was special to me or the loved one will come on (this happened soon after my maternal grandmother died and also after one of my college friends passed away).

Anyway, since my Ipod Shuffle plays songs randomly, though I put the songs on there, I don’t control the order in which they come up. I can press the advance button if a song comes on that I don’t feel like running to, however for the most part I roll with whatever order they happen to play on a given day. Since Molly died and I was able to start running again, almost every time out the song “Time by Billy Porter (the one I used for the video montage I made with the pictures from Molly’s birthday) comes up at some point. I always think of Molly when I hear it and appreciate remembering our baby girl as I listen. Over the past few months another of the songs I have found really moving to run along with is “It’s the End of the Road” by Matt Goss. For those of you who have your computer speakers turned on when you come to my blog, you may have noticed that I recently added music and currently this is the first song you hear when you arrive here.

Yesterday I was almost done with the route that I typically run along the lake when something really special happened. There is a point when I am running where the road that I follow along the lake veers briefly away from the lake and leads me through a wooded area before returning me back out to the lakeside on which the cottage is located. Right as I approached this wooded area “It’s the End of the Road” came on and a few moments later as I ran along the road I noticed a butterfly fluttering through the bushes, flowers and trees. As I shared in my most recent post here, anytime I see a butterfly lately I think of Molly and on some level believe that it is her way of communicating with me. I like to believe that she is trying to connect with her Mommy and assure me that she is okay, at peace and happy in Heaven. So as I ran I listened to the song lyrics and smiled as I watched the beautiful butterfly seeming to run or fly along with me.

At one point the butterfly seemed to fly away deeper into the wooded area and I couldn’t see her anymore. I was okay with that, feeling grateful for having had those special moments, and continued to run and listen to the song. Then I turned a corner on the road and looked over into the bushes and trees and the next thing I knew she was back! It was a really wonderful moment for me as the butterfly honestly seemed to be flying a long next to me as I ran, almost cheering me along telling me “you can do it!” It was really incredible. Make of it what you will, but it meant a lot to me to feel so in touch with Molly’s spirit on the eve of this latest milestone since she’s been gone.

Thank you for your continued love, support, thoughts and prayers. I know this has been another long post, so if you are still following along, thank you for staying with me. May God continue to bless you and your loved ones. And now, with out further a deau

It’s the End of the Road by Matt Goss

Yesterday a clear horizon, now the clouds are rolling in it’s disappeared,
The one thing that I’ve always believed in, it’s strange how right now it all seems so unclear
I consult my soul and it tells me that it knows, there’s no doubt one day I’m gonna fly
Gotta stand up, dust myself off, just for now, it’s the end of the road

When something ends something begins, but now it’s just the end of the road,
When someone loses someone wins, but now it’s just the end of the road,
Don’t get to fix it if it doesn’t break, but now it’s just the end of the road,
When you gotta leave it makes you wanna stay, I know it’s the end of the road, it’s the end of the road

One line can change a story, so sometimes let the line just be unsaid,
Pride only thinks about the glory, and just the right now and not the days ahead
I’ve held my breath, walked on shells, hoped for the best, what the future holds, i don’t know
I’ve gotta stand up, dust myself off, just for now, it’s the end of the road

When something ends something begins, but now it’s just the end of the road,
When someone loses someone wins, but now it’s just the end of the road,
Don’t get to fix it if it doesn’t break, but now it’s just the end of the road,
When you gotta leave it makes you wanna stay, I know it’s the end of the road

I’ve been traveling, get the dust right off the windshield, No one gets the road map to their life,
Cause life is so subjective, I’ll take my pain and I wanna protect it,
Never blinds me, always reminds me, there’s so much more to see, at the end of the road

When something ends something begins, is this the end of the road?
When someone loses someone wins, oh is this the end of the road?
When something ends something begins, but now it’s just the end of the road,
When someone loses someone wins, But now it’s just the end of the road,
Don’t get to fix it if it doesn’t break, but now it’s just the end of the road,
When you gotta leave it makes you wanna stay, I know it’s just the end of the road

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 SommerNyte August 17, 2008 at 11:57 pm

I love the story of the painting, Kathy. It brought tears to my eyes reading it and remembering Molly. My heart goes out to you.

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2 Kristie August 18, 2008 at 9:29 am

I love the painting and wonderful story behind it.

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3 Martha August 18, 2008 at 9:34 am

I am incredibly touched by your love for your children and family. The painting and tradition are beautiful. I don’t what else to say except Thank you. God Bless you all, Kathy. You and your family honor your daughter and so do I. You all have been denied so, so much, it’s unfair and my heart aches for you. I am glad that you can find the joy while mourning Molly.

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4 k@lakly August 18, 2008 at 10:05 am

What a beautiful picture and the story behind choosing and acquiring it is remarkable. It’s a perfect way for your entire family to share her memory.

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5 Katie August 18, 2008 at 6:42 pm

I need a kleenex . . . or ten. What a beautiful idea with the painting, what a gorgeous tribute to Molly, and what amazing words.

My heart is with all of you. And thank you so much for your kind support of me while I tick down the final days of my pregnancy.

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6 Lori August 18, 2008 at 8:50 pm

I came across your blog a few months ago, and was touched by Molly and her brief life.

I was very pleased to get your comment today, Kathy.

May you continue to walk the avenue of peace and Magnolias.

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7 Delenn August 19, 2008 at 5:41 am

What a wonderful tradition and beautiful picture.

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8 T-Mommy August 19, 2008 at 12:21 pm

There is no better way to keep Molly in your everyday life than with beautiful butterflies and that awesome painting.

The picture is great, I can’t imagine how beautiful the original must be!

May every new day finds you with a butterfly to share every step to take!

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9 Tash August 19, 2008 at 6:02 pm

What an awesome, incredible tradition. And you’re right, that was definitely a sign. I used to run around the Chicago area myself, and it is indeed beautiful — I’m glad you’re finding so much meaning and beauty in your surroundings. It took me a long time to do just that.

You’re all in my thoughts today.

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10 c. August 21, 2008 at 9:36 pm

Beautiful, Kathy. Just beautiful. Thinking of you and Molly…

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11 Meredith July 24, 2013 at 8:04 pm

Touching, wonderful post. A perfect way to honor your little girl.

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