Mid November is a sad time as Molly’s birthday approaches… I felt overcome by grief and sadness this evening. It doesn’t get easier each year. I can’t imagine it ever will when I should be able to wish my best friend happy birthday. I’ve been celebrating her birthday with her since she was eight, and even after she has passed I continue celebrating for her.
I am putting together a special post for her birthday, yet I figured it would be fitting to post an old favorite from Learn & Live as my thoughts are with her tonight. I originally wrote this on May 17, 2014 and you can find the post here.
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When I was sixteen, my eighteen-year-old best friend showed me an image of a tattoo she wanted to get; it was her astrological sign, Scorpio. She loved it partially because of the “m” it formed—she thought it would also be fitting since her name was Molly. Due to her illness and all the medications that accompanied it, she was unable to get one. She complained endlessly about it and said things like, “The doctors don’t know what they’re talking about, I’m just going to do it anyway.” That was her attitude about most things the doctors said she “shouldn’t” do and if she listened to them half as often as they wanted her to, she would not have done much with herself at all. However, this particular situation was different… maybe she ultimately understood that this was one thing she actually could not do for medical purposes, or maybe she knew she would be digging her own grave after her mom’s reaction.
I received my first tattoo at the age of eighteen. Molly was the first one I texted a photo of it to for approval—she had viewed every image I sent her of what I wanted for the past few years, and I was so excited to share the final product with her. But I also knew that twenty-year-old Molly was envious and I remember feeling so bad I was able to get one and she could not. She continued saying she wanted one every now and then; however, I believe in the back of her mind she knew the health consequences were too severe.
Fast-forward a few more years… Molly mentioned the desire to get a tattoo on rare occasion, specifically after another friend received one or when she was feeling especially healthy. As distance grew between us and her health worsened, she stopped speaking of tattoos all together. I cannot say whether she still would have gotten the tattoo of the Scorpio sign if she could today, or of something else, or whether she lost interest entirely. But I will always remember how she wanted one so badly all those years ago, and her stubborn refusal of letting it be impossible.
Molly passed away eleven months ago, and there is a constant emptiness in my heart that is indescribable. She was more than my best friend—she was my sister. We may have grown apart from one another in the last few years for all sorts of reasons, many of which I blame myself for, but I will forever remember our renewed friendship when I surprised her with a visit last January. It was as if no time had passed since we were teenagers driving around in her PT Cruiser, adolescents giggling over our Hollywood crushes, or children playing all over her parents’ property. I may not be able to forgive myself for allowing such distance to occur between us, yet at least we had that last bit of time together to dissolve it. During our goodbyes, we both tried to apologize to the other, yet neither of us would allow the other to get more than a few words out. The memory still brings tears to my eyes.
We met when I was seven years old and it sparked the beginning of not only a great friendship, but an incredible childhood. She lived on a forty-acre horse ranch, and our friendship quickly strengthened through our mutual love for horses and dedication to riding. We spent hours upon hours at the barn, whether it was playing broom polo, bathing our horses, taking riding lessons, letting our imaginations run wild pretending to be horses, talking about anything and everything as we cooled down the horses, doing barn chores… the list never ends. We competed in 4-H and at the National Western Stock Show, and every competitive event in between. The best memories of my life were at the ranch and with the horses, and each and every one included my best friend. I cannot even fathom what my life would be like if it were not for Molly and the horses—I may no longer have horses (trust me, not by choice), but my connection to them is and will always be very much apart of my life. The exact same goes for Molly.
She loved Los Angeles and the life she created there. I have been planning this tattoo for ten months. I thought about getting it while I lived there because it was important I receive it in her home-away-from-home, but it simply never happened. So, it felt fitting to do it during this visit. Her husband, Corey, sat with me as Todd tattooed my shoulder and we exchanged Molly stories. The experience just felt so… right.
My tattoo is in honor of my best friend who is no longer with us.
It is for the tattoo she was never personally able to get.
It symbolizes the core of how our friendship grew.
It represents our childhood full of laughter.
It is a reminder of our ever-lasting connection, no matter how much time passes.
It embodies the cowgirl in both of us.
It signifies she is always with me and the best I can do is live my life to the fullest.