The Molly Thompson Memorial Fund gives back to the very children Molly lived with during her hospitalizations at Randall Children's Hospital. This is her story.
A personal tribute to Molly Michelle Thompson and her much loved family: Bree, Mike and Wendy.
It is my hope that I could lay before you... memories of their life, their journey with cancer and facing death... and we can weave them together like the quilt draped over the rocking chair in the Thompson's home. The quilt which wrapped around their very shoulders, as they rocked Molly in the days before her death and in the moments after her last breath.
For their story is not simply a story of a little girl; It's a story of a family... a story of community and a story of people sitting together, celebrating, honoring, weeping and coming together making a difference in the life of Molly.
Molly Michelle Thompson
We've called you Mighty Molly
We've called you Molly-girl, Princess Molly, Little sister, Mollykins, M& M, Pumpkin Head, Whoochie-girl, Jasmine, Magic, Molly T., Sweetheart and Angel.
Mostly we've called you Molly.
If ever there was a child- who could capture hearts, make magic and fantasy in the moment, bring laughter to a quiet room and teach acceptance in the midst of courageously battling a life-challenging illness it was Miss Molly T.
She loved all Princesses born to Disneyland; Jasmine, from Aladdin, might possibly be her favorite.
Molly owned every Barbie ever manufactured, as well as the over one million accessory items needed for every occasion that Barbie or Ken could have encountered. In her home, they resided in a life-size doll-house in the playroom. And I can attest... that every child (and some adults too, you know who you are)...who walked through their front door...somehow, innately, knew the directions to The "Barbie Zone".
...Where there was Molly... there was wonder...
Molly collected lotions, perfume, glitter and colorful make-up arranged in her bedroom beauty shop. These products were often found proudly displayed on her Daddy's body & hair and on other willing family members and friends. I remember seeing Mike with nail polish and glitter shimmering in his hair on days after his visit to Molly's famous beauty parlor...
...Where there was Molly... there was magic...
You might remember, Molly was a Portland Power Fan. Provided with season tickets from the Power staff, Molly and her family watched, screamed, chewed out the refs, danced and chanted from the second row. Molly ruled over section B.
When my family joined them one game-night, Molly grabbed my son's hand and said, "come with me Zach" off they went dancing with mascot Hoop, the three of them, center court, no hesitation, even in the spotlight of national television. Molly performing her latest Spice girl moves.
...Where there was Molly... there were celebrations...
Molly was diagnosed in 1997 with Hepatoblastoma a rare form of liver cancer. At Two-years old she faced conventional medicine head-on, high-tech bone, CT and MIR scans. She endured, surgeries, placement of chest tubes to receive high-dose chemotherapy, pokes, transfusions and over a year of extended hospitalizations.
She was Princess in shinning armor.
She made friends out of Doctors, Nurses, Child-life therapists and people like myself, helping kids with cancer.
...Where there was Molly... there were friendships made of love and adoration...
When Molly was asked to draw a picture of a Hero- she drew herself. She drew herself with long, wonderful, flowing hair and in Molly's fashion of capturing reality, her sister; Bree was depicted pulling her beautiful hair.
Molly's way, her life, her humor, her pain, her sadness, her battle cries, her love for her family, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, schoolmates, and friends was simple, clear and heartfelt.
It's as if she always knew that time should not be wasted. She knew how to be real and forced the rest of us to pull off our masks and open our hearts to the pain and joy of loving a child who lived each moment till her death.
...Where there was Molly... there was life...
If ever there was a Big sister -who could accept the hardships, and disrupted family routine that comes with battling cancer and an independent little-sister, it was Bree Thompson.
As a big sister... she loved mothering Molly when she was a baby. She was tender, she was adoring and she was excited to have a sister in her midst.
Wendy said, when she was first learning to write her name at school she would sign her papers Bree Molly Thompson- including Molly in this simple task.
As her sister became older, BREE taught Molly about fashion, about movie stars, about make-up, about hip-music, and about the special bond found between sisters.
With Molly, she shared her treasures, her time, her friends, her secrets, her love for basketball and her life. She learned to cope with Molly's independence and her constant attempts to emulate her every move, look and hobby.
Even though she knew Molly would sneak into her room and capture her treasures and then hide them for her own. Bree would patiently wait for Wendy to secret them back into their rightful place.
She was a big sister who waited... who was patient.... and who loved a small- girl named Molly.
With wisdom beyond her 9 years, I saw BREE step aside to let her sister step-forward and shine. She seemed to accept it was Molly's time...in the short days Molly had to live.
I saw a young girl accept the inevitable changes that occur within a family fighting a battle of great magnitude.
BREE is brave, wise and quiet. It was a Big-sister Bree, who returned on Sunday, October 4th after a weekend with her friends. She came to her sister's side and it was then only a short time later Molly chose to stop breathing and die.
Molly had waited to say goodbye.
After her death that night, it was this big sister who lovingly brushed Molly's hair.... adorned it with barrettes, chose her rings, and the Barbie's for her sister's final journey.
If ever there was a sister for Molly... it was BREE...
If ever there was a father, who could walk into a room and bring smiles, happiness and playtime to his daughters it was Mike Thompson.
Only minutes after Molly was born... he was beaming as he cradled her into his arms. A new life was offered to him full of daughters; full of pink, full of Daddy, full of love...he was complete.
Mike was a playmate to his girls. First there were horsy-rides, games of piggy-toes, singing and dolls. Then came Barbies, glitter, cutting & glue, dance routines, boyfriends, Burger King Playland, Baskin-Robbins and putt-putt golf.
You might have seen one of their famous hot-wheel car races. It consisted of more than 40 feet of track winding throughout the playroom in loops and jumps, curves and pit stops; after the racing.. cars were sorted- winners and duds.
When Molly was diagnosed with cancer, dreams were shattered, life as they knew it fell apart and their family routine left behind. Mike helped make Molly's world whole again. He took off endless days of work to be involved in her treatment, her life and her wishes. They played school at the easel... he was the teacher, Molly is favorite student.
They escaped after stays in the hospital and made secret trips...just the two of them....to TOYS R US.
They replenished their playroom with the newest Barbie, Polly pocket, Disney character, hot wheel, or new colors of make-up to be applied to Mike's willing face...
Last Christmas, as their car drove up our driveway, we looked out in amazement to see Christmas lights flashing and lighting up their car windows. Molly jumped out, in giggles and smiles- sharing that her Daddy made Christmas in the car!
Mike had located & bought a voltage converter; wired lights, under carpet and through the car to make a simple ride full of Christmas magic.
What will never fade from my mind... is a daddy who could always be found a few steps behind Molly... always there to hold her hand when she seemed unsteady, carry her in his arms when she was weak, curl his big body and hands around his daughter as her breathing became more difficult. This man truly was Molly's most cherished playmate.
Molly would say, "Daddy...I love you 60-40 million times. It was the biggest number she knew...and he'd say it back.
If ever there was a Daddy for Molly...it was Mike!
If ever there was a Mother - who could pull golden stars from the sky and make dreams come true for her children, know when to fight like her life depended on it, and when to let go... it was Wendy Thompson.
Molly's very birth, demanded life-supporting measures for Wendy. She shares... it was a difficult, exhausting struggle to birth Molly into this world. Born three weeks early at 9 1/2 pounds with "football shoulders"; this second daughter began as independent, self-assured and loveable as she always would remain.
Being a mother came naturally to Wendy. She loved the unconditional love, the music, the magic, and the voices that echoed in her life.
When Molly was 2-- she became ill. The family first heard the cancer diagnosis-it was Hepatoblastoma. The tumor engulfed 75% of her liver and metastasized with spots on her lungs. Prognosis was very bleak...treatment & surgery severe.
"I thought my child was dying with cancer, said Wendy but then realized Molly was living with cancer."
Her daughter gave her the strength to face the battle that lie before them. Molly held out her hand and whispered "follow me'....and they did.
It was then their spirits were stretched and tested, their dreams altered and priorities shifted. Wendy chose to leave her job, and then, she amazingly with all her strength....began to re-shape the family routine around a passion-filled mission of healing.
Wendy learned fast how to advocate and demand the best for Molly. She searched the world for new treatments, second opinions and put together the best medical team for her daughter. This woman moved mountains to make new paths for Molly. She was intelligent, trustworthy, competent and respected by her doctors, medical professionals and parents.
She organized, she sent out 100's of hand written thank-you's, and was deeply overwhelmed by the kindness that came from all of you -here today.
You probably do not know, that even while Wendy was in the midst of this unimaginable, battle fighting for her daughter's life, she continuously reached out and made a difference for others battling cancer with their children.
She bought front row tickets for a little girl and her family to see Disney on Ice, which they could not afford. Got tickets to a sold-out concert, for another. She shared resources, taught them how to ask for help, encouraged them to create parties for their children in the hospital and she most amazingly helped raise money for The Children Cancer Association. All this she did quietly....all this, while continuing her own struggle.
Wendy and Molly had a connection so simple, so beautiful so apparent. Their bodies fit perfectly as they walked together or snuggled. They went on adventures to feed the ducks, to Gymnastics, grocery shopping, Montessori school and for frappuccinos at Starbucks. Wendy breathed in all the wonder and memories her daughter had to offer.
As most of you know, where there was Molly there were parties, wishes and adventures for anyone near. The woman behind the scenes was Wendy and many, many supporters. There was the famous real-life Barbie & Ken party thrown for 50 kids at Emanuel Children's hospital, and afternoon with actress Michelle Pfieffer, 3-trips to Disneyland, Chucky Cheese, a trip to Hawaii to swim with Dolphins, Pool parties, and the 5th, 6th and 7th Birthday Parties for Molly- just because Molly wanted to be older.
I will always remember Wendy to be a mother who taught her daughters about loving life, living in the moment and giving to others. I will always remember, her strength, her honesty and our incredible friendship, when life was crashing around her.
I will never forget, walking into their bedroom, filled with softly, glowing candlelight, on Sunday evening... after Molly had taken her last breaths and seeing Wendy ever so gently cradling and rocking her precious child. "Regina", she cried, "Molly stopped breathing so easy and so fast, I think she jumped in the arms of angels."
If ever there was an angel on this earth for Molly... it was Wendy.
If ever there was a challenge for all of us it will be, of letting go of the life with Molly that was so familiar. We must now... open ourselves.... to the next kind of life with Molly, A life of memory, and inspiration and commitment to what she taught us.
We can predict, that Molly... like the doves we watched her release skyward, will forever sore in our lives. She will hang her messages on rainbows, plant them in gardens, ring them on wind-chimes and she'll sing them loudly in her favorite music. We have only begun to hear her. For that... we are thankful.