The love of a parent is something that is easily taking for granted. Molly Dodd, 22, a Senior at Southeastern University knows this first hand. At sixteen years of age, she lost her father to a massive heart attack. At this time in her life, she was a happy-go-lucky teenager and this event rocked her world. “I didn’t know how to respond,” she shared. Her life was forever changed.
Life was never normal for Molly, but she learned to adapt and work around “father-daughter” functions and events. She explained, “It became my new normal. Every day was a new emotional adventure.”
Five years later, Molly’s mom Jerri became ill. Throughout a year of doctors trying to diagnose a problem, her condition slowly worsened. In February of 2012, Jerri had a life changing surgery to remove the diagnosed tumor on her adrenal gland, but once in surgery, the doctors found a large amount of cancer on five of her organs and lungs. Jerri never woke up from the surgery, and this was completely devastating to Molly and her family. “Talk about not knowing where to turn, I had no parents left to turn to.”
Molly had a close relationship with both of her parents, and with them gone, she was not sure who to ask for help. Her faith in God was the primary source of comfort and support, and the love of her extended family. “They were present as much as they could be, but at the end of the day, I was alone,” shared Molly.
Experiencing such a traumatic tragedy was exhausting. Molly explained that she was physically and emotionally drained from all of the decisions that she had to make in such a short period of time. “I had to decide what to sell of my parents belongings, including the house that I grew up in.” These decisions were difficult for Molly to handle, and at times she became overwhelmed. “I just had to pray. Pray that God would make the decisions easier, and that I would just know what my parents would have wanted,” she said. For Molly, it was definitely a moment that she never dreamed of facing at least until her late 50s.
After the extreme moments of decisions and saying her last goodbyes, Molly was able to reflect on her parents' influence on her life. She shared that they taught her how to be a woman of great integrity and character, and that life is a story. Their influence daily inspires her to dress with dignity and respect in order to honor them.
She explained that she feels entrusted to carry this story of God's grace and mercy.
“God must think I’m something else to trust me with such a massive testimony.”
She says that everyone should know that her life is no worse than anyone else's. “I am actually very blessed. For the 16 years that I knew my dad, and the 21 years that I knew my mom, I am so grateful.” She finds comfort knowing they are her biggest fans and are watching her live the life that they and God have given her.
Molly warns, “ I know it sounds difficult, but never take for granted your parents disciplining you or telling you their opinions, they just love you.” She shared that she wishes her parents were around to tell her how they feel or what is on their mind.
She understands now more than ever that life is not guaranteed, and every day is a complete gift. Her parents were an incredible resource of support and motivation in her life, and she is thankful for the years she was able to learn from them. Molly jokes now that she better make good choices, because they are always watching.
Photo Credit: Anastasia Jones-Downing