1,576,170 minutes without Molly - where we go from here



It’s been three years since Molly died. 36 months. 156 weeks. 1,095 days. 26,269 hours. 1,576,170 minutes. We feel her physical absence in our bones and every cell, in every moment.

People ask if it’s gotten easier. It hasn’t. My grief is less raw. I don’t burst into tears in the grocery store when I pass Molly’s favorites and remember that I no longer have a daughter who loves split pea soup. No need to add peas to my cart anymore. Or when I pass the girls section on my way to buy new shoes for the boys. Oh, how I loved to buy Molly beautiful clothes, shoes and all the accessories. My shopping buddy is gone forever. I used to cry every night. It upset Jon and the boys. I’ve learned ways to live with grief, my constant companion. I’m more in control of when and how I spend time with her. It’s usually during the day when the house is empty. 

The passage of time is another form of torture. Each day takes us further away from when Molly was here. I spend a long time looking for pictures of her on my phone, scrolling past three years of memories that don’t include our daughter. Family vacations without her. Her brothers’ birthday parties that are missing her colorful decorations and creative touches.

Molly’s friends are in high school now. They have boyfriends and go to dances. They’ll start driving soon. Our girl is forever twelve. No first kiss. No bat mtizvah. No graduations. No car. No more trips to Hawaii. No more fights with her brothers. No more Sissy. No more daughter.

Eli was four when we lost Molly. He will have few, if any, real memories of her. Nate’s grief is immense. It keeps him awake at night or invades his dreams. Witnessing his pain, and feeling helpless to make it better, hurts more than my own sorrow and longing.

I’m afraid that Molly is being forgotten. Most people have understandably moved on but we cannot. Nor would we want to.

Please remember Molly. Her dark brown eyes that were filled with light. Her sense of justice. Her gentleness towards animals, down to the smallest ant. She loved chocolate, bread and pasta. Also, cherry tomatoes, avocado and lemon. She was a nurturer, who toted Eli around and delighted in playing with little kids. Molly wanted to be an actress or President of the United States when she grew up. She could never make up her mind, but clearly had grand plans for her future. She loved history. Molly was a proud Jew, who embodied the best of Jewish values. She considered Israel her second home although she died before we could take her there.

There have been moments in the past three years when I did not want to live. I would never choose to leave Jon and the boys. But, like every bereaved parent I’ve met, sometimes I feel desperate to be with my child again, wherever she is. This broken world can be too much for my wounded soul. 

I remain determined to live a full and meaningful life. Helping others in Molly’s name gives me purpose. Molly wanted to be known in a big way (although she could also be intensely shy). I will see her dream to fruition. Molly only lived for twelve short years but her legacy continues to grow, her light becoming even brighter. Like your favorite song from Hamilton, the world’s going to know your name, Molly. I promise. 

The Molly Steinsapir Foundation has made a difference in advancing causes that Molly cared about. Our work is performed by volunteers, which means every dollar goes directly to our charitable endeavors. In less than three years, we’ve made substantial donations to Kehillat Israel, Marquez Charter Elementary School, the Fresno Chaffee Zoo, Jewish National Fund USA, Theatre Palisades, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), Chabad Jewish Community Center of Pacific Palisades, Paws For Life K9 Rescue, Homeless Outreach Program Integrated Care System (HOPICS) and St. Joseph Center. Reminding myself of everything we’ve accomplished in Molly’s honor makes my heart feel lighter.

Believe it or not, this is just the beginning. The Molly Steinsapir Foundation is going to help many more people and animals, clean up more beaches, exemplifying tikkun olam (repairing the world). Our next project developed organically, as tends to be the case. I believe Molly puts certain people in my path and guides me. I know she’s jumping for joy about this one.

Since October 7, a few weeks before Molly would have turned 15, I’ve felt compelled to return to Israel. We spent two weeks there in 2022, when we traveled with the Jewish National Fund to dedicate the petting zoo at ADI Negev to Molly. ADI is a rehabilitation village for the disabled, which cares for Jews and non-Jews alike. Our local Jewish community, as well as our brothers and sisters in Israel, helped carry us through our tragic loss.

At first, I wondered what good I could accomplish in Israel. I’m a grief-stricken mother, still struggling with chronic pain and side effects from cancer treatment. What difference could I make?

The answer came from Rabbi Steve Leder, who wrote, “It’s time to show up – to show up for each other and to show up by going to Israel. Israel is a nation in mourning, and the best thing we can do for each other in times of suffering and grief is to show up! It changes nothing, but it means everything.”

YES. I know this from when our community sat shiva with us. As David Kessler writes, grief must be witnessed. Simply being present is everything.

I moderate two online groups that I created – one for breast cancer patients and survivors, the other for grieving parents. My life is full of people who are facing some of life’s greatest challenges. I know how to sit with someone in their pain. I DO have something to offer.

My sister-in-law, Polly, recently returned from a volunteer mission in Israel, which she beautifully describes in this essay that I hope you will read, https://jewishjournal.com/commentary/368105/diary-of-determination-ensuring-israels-food-security-and-future/.

Inspired by Polly, and remembering Rabbi Leder’s words, I signed up for a volunteer mission with JNF. When I shared the news in my social media circles, I encountered other women who want to go but lack the necessary funds. I immediately realized there’s no better way to honor Molly than to sponsor a group of caring mothers to volunteer in Israel.

As Leonard Cohen once said, “I wish the women would hurry up and take over.” The Israel/Gaza war is beyond the scope of this writing. Suffice it to say that women are critical to peacebuilding. If more women were in powerful positions, there would surely be less violence and bloodshed.

Unfortunately, Israeli women have been largely disbelieved and dehumanized since October 7, including by many so-called feminists. Some have legitimized rape as a weapon of war or a form of “resistance.” It’s wrong on every level and Molly would not have stopped talking about it.

Our #TEAMMOLLY group of women may not be able to change anything in the Middle East. But we will embrace our family, including those we’ve not yet met. We will remind them they are loved. That they matter. We will show up anywhere and everywhere we can lend a hand or our shoulders to cry on. Our extended family includes Palestinians, by the way. They are cousins of the Jews. If I could, I would put my arms around every mother who has lost a child. My heart aches for them. Each night, I pray for everyone who is suffering throughout the world and ask Molly to help them.

Please make a tax-deductible donation of any amount to support Molly’s mission. We’ve allocated our current funds to our usual charities, so we’re starting from scratch to make this happen. As always, Jon and I are making a substantial personal donation.  

Thank you for remembering Molly, today and always.  




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