Saturday, June 09, 2007


1989. It has always stuck out in my mind. I don't know if turning 10 years old, or going from third grade to fourth grade, is a developmental milestone for a kid, but I think it was for me. That summer a new neighbor moved in three doors down - a girl my age named Molly. She was from Tyler, Texas, was petite with brown hair and really cute red framed glasses, and she was so much fun. We were the best of friends.

The next two years we had a blast together as we grew out of being little kids into being pre-adolescents - tweens as they're called now. We were old enough to be very much aware that Nike Air Jordans, Girbaud jeans, and Espirit tops could get us places. (See? My denim obession began young. And by the way, I got some Seven capri pants on sale at Nordstrom yesterday for 33% off.) We were old enough to like boys and carve our initials next to theirs into the trunk of the oak tree in her front yard. We spent hours up in its branches looking through the American Girls catalog (she of course had Molly and I had Samantha). We had not yet grown out of playing mermaid in the pool and riding our bikes around the neighborhood, which in our imaginations was divided into East and West Germany. We memorized every song on 93Q and 104 KRBE and made routines to our favorite ones. We recorded tapes of ourselves as djs. And then there was that tape of us burping. We made ourselves sick doing that one. We had countless sleepovers, which I'm sure our parents dreaded because our of tradition of Ching Chong's. Throughout the night we would create menus and signs and transform the kitchen and dining room into a restaurant. We would wake our parents up early so that they could order breakfast and we could whip it up for them. So much fun for us...not that fun for them. I can't remember which one of us was Ching and which was Chong. We also had another set of nicknames which were Flo and Jo. I think we got those from a cartoon. Molly was there the day my sister and I hopped off the school bus and met Michael, who lived with us for seven years, for the first time.

Our life mission was to make ourselves laugh, to have all the coolest clothes and shoes, and to do or prepare ourselves to do everything Molly's big sister Julia did. Julia was two years older than us. She was gorgeous, blond, popular, and did everything from sing in the choir to play sports. So at age 11, we began training for future greatness on the volleyball and basketball teams at Truitt Junior High. Our neighbor Chris taught us everything he knew about basketball. He was all boy and played very aggressively, so I think we had an advantage over the other girls. We even chose the songs we would be singing together one day in the lip sync contest and in the pop concerts we would surely participate in during our junior high years. We were at that stage before you realize you're not necessarily going to excel at everything you want to do. It's a wonderful time.

Then junior high finally came. It is a wonder any girl makes it out of junior high with any ounce of self-esteem or joy. It's a horrible time. Actually, some of my best memories are from then. But so are some of my most painful memories. Both tomboys at heart, I think we struggled with the hormones that were putting us at odds with every other person alive and that were changing us in ways that boys noticed (and harassed us for) but we were not ready to embrace. We both made the sports teams we wanted and finally got to wear the cute blue uniform and carry the prestigious athletic bag that was the coolest accessory of our lives. We shared the same friends. We carefully decided together which trends were acceptable for us to take on and which weren't. I'll never forget our discussion on Birkenstocks. We threw our first co-ed party, where I pushed the boy I liked into the pool and then ran home as fast as I could.

Perhaps the only thing we deviated on was theater. Molly was hilarious and very extroverted. She was perfect for it. I had also been invited to join the theater class (Speech II) and had eagerly signed up for it. We were a great pair in improv, but it was not to be. Somehow "Speech II" was mistaken for Spanish I and there I sat on my first day of seventh grade in a nerdy foreign language classroom. I was mad as a hornet, but something clicked. I loved Spanish. In fact, I would keep taking it until my senior year and then I would minor in it in college. I've benefited from it on many mission trips and just in living where I do. It's funny because I had definitely planned on taking French instead. The Lord knew what I would need.

By high school Molly and I were starting to grow apart. It wasn't intentional, but we were involved in completely different things. Since we attended a very large high school, somehow we never attended a single class together again. We were embedded into separate groups of friends. When senior year finally came, we hung out a little here and there. We were nostalgic about our friendship and we laughed over pictures of ourselves as kids and the things we had done. We agreed that we needed to hang out more often and keep in touch after high school. On the night of graduation we we hung out at the same party and I remember being thankful that we got to spend that time together. We'd come full circle.

Molly was our school mascot and she was very well loved. She had been enlisted by a travel company to be one of two representatives to recruit kids from our class to go to Cancun together after graduation. I remember going to that first meeting at CiCi's pizza to see what it was all about. A girl in her twenties, probably several years younger than I am right now, was the leader. She explained that she would take care of us in Cancun if anything happened. Right. My family decided to go on a tour of Greece and Rome right after graduation, so I did not join my friends in Cancun.

One morning in Rome, right before I left my hotel room to get on the tour bus, I found out that my bff Jennifer was trying to get in touch with my mom. I thought that was really bizarre, so I called her immediately. I will never forget the tone of her voice as she told me that Molly had died on the senior trip. It was unthinkable. She had come down with meningitis and died in the hospital in Cancun. There had been no adults to take care of her, only her 18-year-old friends who, if I am scarred 9 years later and I wasn't even there, surely still carry deep wounds. To say that I and everyone in our community was devastated is a gross understatement.

Sadly, we could not make it back to Houston in time for the funeral. We pulled up to our house and walked three doors down to find a crowd of people at Molly's house. We had missed it by a couple of hours. I have said goodbye to her in many different ways - at her grave with flowers, in notes I've written over the years, in praying to God to tell her things for me. Missing that funeral was terrible for my heart. It has been very hard to get closure.

I woke up this morning wanting to cry about missing my friend. It's been 9 years and three days. And I am heading to the very place where she lost her life. Not that I'm scared in any way, but it's tender for me. This time of year, the loss is especially painful. We should have visited each other at our different colleges and been at each other's weddings. I should be emailing her pictures of Jackson. I should be getting pictures of her little one in return. I should call her and say, "Hey, I'll be in Houston next week! Wanna meet up?" I shouldn't feel pain in my heart when I'm at my mom's house and I drive by her house and that oak tree that we spent so much time in. More importantly, Julia's kids should have an Aunt Molly. Molly's mom should have moved her into a dorm, should have planned a wedding for her, should have rocked her grandbaby in that first week home from the hospital. It all ended too soon.

I do not have a clever ending for this story. I guess it's just all to say that I miss you, Molly. I wish you were still here and I still think of you all the time. You were a very big part of my life and you are a very big part of my memories.
I love you,


Shelley said...

wow. i'm typing through tears. i don't know you, or molly, but your post really spoke to me. i have wonderful friends, and my kids have wonderful friends, and if we ever lost any of them, we would be devestated. thanks for the reminder to always treasure these people, and to make the most of our lives together.

Patty said...

I really don't know what to say, that is so sad and heartbreaking. What a sweet friendship God gave you! It is so hard to understand why young people die so suddenly. The other night I was thinking of a friend of mine I had in high school. His name was Todd, he loved the Lord and he didn't mind sharing that with anyone. We all were out one night and all he could talk about was God. I remember the other friends we were with didn't want to hear about that but a friend and I were really amazed that he didn't care if the guys made fun of him. The next day, at age 16, he was killed in a car accident. I guess I was thinking of him because I have two teenage sons driving and they are away this weekend camping and my oldest drove them. Thank you for sharing Molly with us. One day you will see her again and I bet God has an oak tree in heaven waiting for the both of you!

Love You,

connorcolesmom said...

Oh I am not sure how to type through such emotions.
However I must say that your post was such a touching tribute to Molly. Your friendship with her helped to make you who you are today and that says a lot!!
What a reunion it will be to see her again in Heaven!!
Have a great time in Cancun and smile up at Heaven while you are there b/c Molly will be looking down at you!!
Much love and God bless,

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Amanda, for sharing your heart. Those tender childhood friendships are great gifts. I am sorry for the pain in your heart - may you hold on to the joy you shared together. May your time in Cancun bring you the closure you need.
Peace and blessings.

debra parker said...

Beautiful words.

Thank you for sharing such tender thoughts.

Sunni at The Flying Mum said...

Oh my goodness...I'm so touched by these memories for you. I pray that when you look at the beautiful sapphire ocean next week, that you'll think of all the things you loved about Molly. And think of the day you'll meet again in Heaven. Love you.

Shelly said...

I'm no expert, but you sound like your seeking closure in the right direction. I pray that our Father continues to give bind your heart stitch by stitch, but at the same time, you never forget.

There is always life in the memories. And I'm sure she would want you to have a blast in Cancun soon. Maybe without the espirit shirt though?! lol

Big Mama said...

Your memories are so sweet and you recorded them so beautifully. It brought back my own memories of recording songs off 93Q and 104 KRBE with my best girlfriend.

I'm so sorry for your loss and for all the milestones that Molly's family missed out on.

annette said...

Sweetie, words don’t cut it here, but I want you to know your tribute to her is a wonderful way to keep her alive in your heart. Closure is kind of a misnomer, when you’ve been through something big and painful like that. Two of my children lost their best friends far too young, and what seemed so senselessly. Nobody was a drug addict, nobody was even doing something they shouldn’t. These were good kids, and we still miss them desperately. They were truly part of our family—the kind that didn’t even have to knock before they came in the door and said, “Hey, Ms. G.” Molly will always be a part of your family. Cancun is beautiful, and for Molly, enjoy yourself. I know that is what she would want for you. What a tender heart you have.

Lindsee Lou said...

Amanda, you are such an eloquant writer. Such precious thoughts and memories. A girl from my high school was killed in a car accident to soon after graduation. It just doensn't seem fair.

I hope you have a wonderful time next week. I'll be at the beach too!! :) Don't worry, though, I'll be using sun screen.

And, I went to Bleyl Jr. High. HOLLA for Cy-Fair ISD!!! :)

AbbyLane said...

Your words just break my heart. I am working at camp for the summer, and today I walked by the tree that was planted by my youth group in memory of our dear friend Adam that was killed in a car crash a little over a year ago. We planted it in front of the house our group has stayed in for the last 10 or so years. ( many memories of him throwing football in that yard.) Our youth group nearly forgot how to breathe when He left us.

They will be here week after next...the second year without Adam. I don't think it ever gets any easier. I could cry now just thinking of him.
I wish I had words to comfort or encourage you...but I'm not sure anything I could say would suffice.

Praying the Lord fills you with peace and the joy of your memories as you celebrate a different part of life with a loved one, and your heart is healed a little more. Thanks...from one heavy heart to another...

Melissa said...

I know how you feel, precious sister. I lost my best friend when I was sophomore in college & she was a freshman. All these years later, I still find myself missing her every once in a while.

Praying you'll have a safe trip to Cancun.

Tracey said...

Oh, Amanda, my heart aches for you as I know all too well the loss of someone you love. I have no words of wisdom other than to allow yourself to grieve. Allow yourself to remember, to cry, to laugh, because in all those things, Molly lives on through you.

Much love, my friend.

Allison said...


Allison Zansler Talamantez here. I read your blog often and I am so touched by what an amazing family you have. My life is truly blessed as well.

Your tribute to Molly is a beautiful one. I am proud to say that I knew her as well.

She will always hold a special place in the hearts of all that knew here.

Best to you and yours,

Allison said...


It is Allison Zansler Talamantez. So touched by your tribute to Molly. I feel blessed that I was able to be considered one of her friends. Amy and I often chat down memory lane of our days of the three of us rolling our eyes at Chris singing "Oceanfront Property".

Thank you for this. I will say a prayer for all of those who Molly touched.

Best to you and yours,

kittyhox said...

Bless your heart.

I'm so sorry you all lost your dear friend, sister, granddaughter, and daughter. Especially at such a special time of her life.

Praise God you'll have one heck of a reunion party in heaven.

I know God will minister your tender heart now and in the place you lost Molly.

Bless you!

Anonymous said...

My daughter's name is Molly. Such a sweet friendship you shared. Hold tight to it always.

Anonymous said...

How sad and sweet at the same time! I can sympathize with you. A year and a half ago, I lost my Daddy to cancer. He was only 50 and I often feel the same way you do about Molly. That he was cheated in a lot of ways. He should be here to watch my children growing up. He should have been here for so many things that he has already missed and it's only been a year and a half. But, really he hasn't missed anything. He is exactly where he should be, and he's having the time of his life up there. I selfishly wish that I could see him and share these special moments with him. But, one day, when we are reunited in Heaven, I'll tell him all about it! And one day, you will be able to share with Molly all of your moments that she missed. God bless you and thank you for sharing!

Nancy Mon said...

Thank you for such a loving tribute to your friend Molly and the friendship you shared.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the reminder to love and hug my friends harder.

Cath said...

Amanda, another old high school friend chiming in - Cathy Wright (now Flores). I read your blog often, too, and haven't managed a comment until now to say how your writing reminds every bit of the wonderful person you were when I knew you at CFHS and that you are today in the adventures of motherhood and all the joy that accompanies it. Your wrting is a gift and a joy and I'm sorry I haven't commented before.

I think about Molly every year around graduation and recall the wake and the funeral and the coming together of all of us who knew and loved her. I shake my head at my still profound inability to grasp the loss of such a bright and touching individual. I'll never forget freshman year of high school, another one of those strange transitional times for teenage girls, when she and I became friends in our theater class. We lip-synched to The Bangles' "Walk Like An Egyptian." Every time I hear it, I see her laughing eyes and easy, make-friends smile. I miss you, too, Molly.

Amanda, congrats on being a wonderful wife, mom, daughter and sister. I love reading your always-right-on takes on life and all the curveballs and sweetness it and He has to share with us.

Kelli said...

You wrote such a beautiful tribute to your friend Molly. What a blessing to have such a great girlfriend, especially during those awkward stages of junior high. I hope you are able to smile as you will probably remember even more special memories of your dear friend Molly this week. :)

Have a blast with your man in Cancun while you are on your 2nd Honeymoon..... Congratulations on the anniversary!

Steph V said...

This completely brought tears to my eyes. It's been a long while since I thought about Molly passing away. I was only a sophomore when this happened, but because I was on the cheerleading squad I'd met her several times. I can still remember sitting in a big circle in the cheerleading room listening to those so deeply hurting for her cry and share stories. It was heartbreaking. I don't know that there's ever been a better mascot than her, at least not while I was there.

Molly was lucky to have you as such a dear friend. And though her time on earth was so short, it was truly filled with people that loved her so.

I hope you enjoy your trip and know that Molly is smiling at you and the wonderful wife, mother, daughter, and friend that you are!

Holly said...

Why is it that we are marked by experiences like this when we're young? I guess we grow and we long for Heaven and for Jesus...also, I think it draws our hearts closer to the One who made them. Thank you for sharing Molly's and your story...I can't wait to meet her one day!
Praying for your trip and your time together, Amanda. The picture of you and Curtis made my heart beautiful!
Have fun, Dear Amanda! Enjoy your groom!

polkadot said...

That was sweet to hear -- she would be so happy to know you still love and think of her. Thanks for sharing, and I think it's a reminder for me to treat everyone a little extra-special today!

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry for the loss of your friend.

One of my elementary school friends committed suicide when we were just 14 (I had moved a few towns away just 3 years earlier and we'd lost touch). I had not thought of her in years, but your post made me think about her , so I said a little prayer for her and her family, whose hearts still ache I'm sure.

Thanks for sharing with us!

Anonymous said...

Just stopped by for the first time.
Your tribute to Molly touched my heart. Thank you for sharing your heart and your memories of her =)


Deedra said...

What a sweet tribute to your friend. I lost a dear friend in 2002. He was in the army, training in the Philipines for the war in Iraq when his helicopter exploded. They found everyone but him. I still wake up sometimes wondering if maybe,..somehow he survived. I know that isn't true, but he lives on in the memories we have of him, does your friend Molly. Thanks for sharing this story.

Amy T said...

What a wonderful tribute. God bless you.

jennyhope said...

Thank you for sharing this piece of your heart. I just read it and I was wondering how I had missed it before. I guess the Lord had me wait to read it since I have meningitis right now. I have never known anyone to have it.
Praying for your sweet heart right now.

Liz Ferguson said...

Your post brought back fond memories of my childhood and some of my long ago friendships.

I am so sorry for your heartache. Thank you for sharing your heart...what a beautifully sweet tribute it was.

bethany said...

Amanda, I guess I should reveal myself :) I've been looking at your blog for a couple of weeks. Not sure if you would even remember me from high school-Beth Criddle (well, not Criddle anymore :)) Can't remember how I found your blog in the first place, but it's been nice to read about someone else of faith. We both have Jackson's as well, although mine is spelled differently. This was a very touching tribute to Molly, I didn't know her very well, but I remember her enthusiasm about life. I hope that you are having a fantastic vacation!

Anonymous said... Mom called me this morning to tell me about me about the Molly blog and I literally starting sobbing the moment I saw her name. I'll never forget getting that phone call until the day I die...thank you for writing this.

And I had the same weird emotions before going to Mexico...I didn't sleep a wink the night before we left and spent the entire first day in our room with what I was sure was either morning sickness or meningitis, obviously it was neither...nerves or whatever. Anywho, I love you and thank you!


Little Steps Of Faith said...

I think you should write one day a book about all of this girlie:)

I am sure God will bless you immensely by it:)


Janelle and Ella said...

I've heard this story before and am still in tears. Beautifully written! I know you were and are a blessing to Molly and her family.

Katharine said...

Wow Amanda. So sad to hear we have something so sad in common-- my best friend in college, who I came to know the Lord right beside, died suddenly of meningitis on spring break. She was 18 and that was 14 years ago. I miss her terribly too. My sweet baby girl is named for her. I pray she will be a friend to someone one day as my Lauren was to me.
My brother says he can't wait to see that reunion in Heaven. I agree with John at the end of Revelation, "Come Jesus!" What a glorious thing it will be when death is done! Praying for you.

Stephanie said...

Your post spoke to me on so many levels. I had a friendship exactly like this and I lost her as well. I think about her everyday and completely understand every word you wrote.

Allison said...

Gosh. I never read this when it was originally posted...I guess that had something to do with having newborn twins, but saw it linked in a post almost four years later...anyway, thinking of Molly still brings tears to my eyes. I hadn't seen Molly in several years when I heard that she died...I remember going to the visitation and seeing her in that casket...not wearing red framed glasses like I always remember her. It still haunts me to this day. All the more now that I am a parent. What a blessing she was in her short life.