Dear Molly

Dear Molly,

40 years ago today, I was over at our great-grandmother’s house, and she had a few friends over sitting on the couch. I got to watch TV, and Planet of the Apes was on. You always hated when I told you that was something I remembered so vividly about the day, so, you know, as a big sister, I gotta make sure I don’t miss it in this letter.

Chris Franquemont (holding Molly) and Ed Franquemont, 1975

Chris Franquemont (holding Molly) and Ed Franquemont, 1975

The phone call came in the early afternoon; the little brother I’d been anticipating was a little girl who weighed 5 and a half pounds. “I wonder what her name is?” everyone started wondering, because clearly it wouldn’t be Little Raoul, which is what you’d been called when you were a bump in my mother’s belly. Everyone sitting around thought Grace sounded like the perfect name.

Ed came and got me, and told everyone your name was Molly Anne, and then he and I went to the hospital to see you. We had chocolate chip banana bread that Barbara had baked, wrapped in tinfoil, and when we got to the hospital, our mother came out and sat with us, but not you. “I don’t have a knife,” my father said, unwrapping the tinfoil package. He broke off pieces of chocolate chip banana bread for everyone. Mine was from the end, which I liked, but it was also shaped like a broken foot, which I didn’t like. I was about to bring this up when my mother said, “Here she comes!” and helped me stand on a chair to look through the window behind us.

A lady dressed in white wheeled up a cart to the window, and smiled. And that was the first time I saw you. You were tiny, and red, with fuzzy red hair, and you were crying. I felt bad about being upset about my weirdly-shaped banana bread. I thought maybe you would like a piece and might not cry anymore if you had some, but you were on the other side of a window, and even then, inside a cart. “She’s very small,” our mother said, “so she has to be in the incubator for a while.”

Abby and Molly, 1975

Abby and Molly, 1975

I was so proud of my new baby sister. It made me mad that you couldn’t come home and play right away. I just wanted you and me to get on with the lives I’d daydreamed for us as your much wiser, more mature, and more experienced sister (that’s right, I was three years old, and I knew STUFF).

Tracey Cain and Molly Franquemont, 1978

Tracey Cain and Molly Franquemont, 1978

Having a little sister was never like I expected it to be. Being a big sister wasn’t either. And you upstaged me at every turn. You were cuter, more charming, had better people skills. I’d make a friend who’d come over to visit me, and then they’d spend the whole visit playing with you and I’d have to give up and go read a book. I didn’t know, until later, that you always thought much the same, and struggled with things like that English teacher wondering why you didn’t want to read Kafka in seventh grade like your big sister. You always looked good in dresses, and in pictures, and I never did. But you always thought everyone could see how many times your nose had been broken and envied me for not being accident-prone.

Molly, in 1979, enjoying having her hair styled by Grandma Claudia

Molly, in 1979, enjoying having her hair styled by Grandma Claudia

1983, Riobamba Ecuador, where even Molly's school uniform cardigan managed to always look fancier than mine

1983, Riobamba Ecuador, where even Molly’s school uniform cardigan managed to always look fancier than mine

Molly and Abby, 1986

Molly and Abby, 1986

Molly, 1990, Tsukuba-shi, Ibaraki-ken,  Japan

Molly, 1990, Tsukuba-shi, Ibaraki-ken, Japan

Molly, 1992, Ithaca High School Lacrosse

Molly, 1992, Ithaca High School Lacrosse

Molly, 1993, with her painting of Grandma Claudia

Molly, 1993, with her painting of Grandma Claudia

Mama Molly and her daughter Quilla, Christmas 1996

Mama Molly and her daughter Quilla, Christmas 1996

I wish we knew where you were, today, when you should be having a party for your fortieth birthday. Forty years is no shit. I’m your big sister, so I know, because I got there first. Or, well, I guess maybe “at all.” It’s been more than 2 years since you disappeared, and with everything that went down, maybe I should be trying to just use phrases like “my sister was” more often. But it’s hard, because… somehow I can’t help thinking it’s all a mistake and I can’t possibly not have a baby sister anymore. Deep down I know you’re gone, because you would have moved heaven and earth to be here with the rest of us these past 2 years. But I can’t close the door on the idea that maybe, just maybe… well, I don’t know what to hope, sometimes, you know? I don’t hope you’re trapped in someone’s basement dungeon, but I also don’t hope you’re dead and never to be found, so maybe the basement dungeon would be better. Maybe I should hope you have amnesia and are having a wonderful time somewhere. But that sounds weird too. I guess I hope you’re at peace, and I wish you were here, and I wish I thought we’ll ever find out.

I miss you. I’m thinking of you a lot lately. Sometimes it sucks being the last one left here. Heck, mostly it does. I know I used to bitch constantly about how I just wanted you to go away and leave me alone, but I never meant it like this. I just wish so much that I could call you up and say happy birthday. I wish you were still around to piss me off, because that’s definitely a little sister’s job and I kinda got used to it after all.

Lots of us miss you.

molly0008

Be well, whereever and however you may be. You are not forgotten. Especially not on your birthday.

Love,

Abby

27 thoughts on “Dear Molly

  1. Abby- You were and have always been a legend among those of us that loved Molly. She bragged about you, your courage to leave home, your brains to teach yourself complicated crazy things that most of us never even tried to understand and, after you had your boy, she bragged about you as a Mom. When I close my eyes and listen I can hear her saying things she always said, I can hearing her talking about my “Baby Taylor” as she lovingly calls him no matter how tall or old he is. I too can’t help but glom on to some crazy idea that she will show up some day, having just been practicing silence and solitude in that mysterious way that only she could. Thank you for putting all of this in to words, many of us weep with you. And I thank you also for being a legend among the next generation of women who were finding our way. Molly loves you, that I know for sure!

  2. Miss her with all my heart!!! EVERY SINGLE DAY! CANNOT begin to imagine your own hurt! Thank You so much for posting photos, they brought me to tears! I always say,”I miss that baby” and to see those pictures made me smile and cry! ONE OF A KIND she and she is missed like she wouldn’t understand!!!

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