- Molly Brodak, 39, took her own life on March 8, 2020 after being diagnosed with a brain tumor
- Blake Butler spent three years grappling with this loss before publishing his book
- It tells the story of their emotionally charged relationship that lasted ten years.
The final haunting diary entry of a Great American Baking Show star who took her own life aged 39 has been revealed in her grieving husband’s new book.
Molly Brodak, who wrote A Little Middle of the Night and appeared on the Great American Baking Show, died by suicide on March 8, 2020, in Atlanta, Georgia, after being diagnosed with a brain tumor.
Her heartbroken husband, Blake Butler, shared the news on Twitter, saying: “My partner Molly Brodak passed away yesterday. I don’t know how else to say it.
He has now revealed the final diary entry written by the poet, which has been described by one critic as “as beautiful as it is horrifying”.
He said: “I took a bath, I said goodbye to my body. We ate grilled halloumi, made love after dinner, and watched our favorite things on TV.
“I feel like I can see everything with such clarity this morning. I’ve been pretending my whole life.
Butler confronts the gruesome details of Molly’s death and its aftermath, giving an unflinching account of the impact on him after finding her body.
It is not known how she committed suicide. The LA Times reports that Butler shared his manner of suicide in graphic detail, but the newspaper chose not to repeat those details itself.
“I let myself find out everything like this,” Butler explains, accompanied by a suicide note she had stuck on their front door so he could see it when he came back from an errand.
“The fact that she made me go and get her body was another type of violence in itself,” he wrote.
Finding her dead plunged him into his own nightmare.
“Every effort I could make to stay alive seemed both obligatory and impossible, as if all I had left to hope for, at best, was to walk up to my neck in blood that looked like water, with a black bag over his head, his fabric lined with wall-style dioramas of Molly’s suicide scene inscribed on it, intertwined with miles of smoke,” he wrote darkly.
Butler used writing the book as a moment of catharsis as he moves through the stages of grief: shock, devastation, anger and rather than acceptance, perhaps grace.
From the beginning of “Molly,” the book chronicles her troubled nature, rooted in her past with a history of depression dating back to childhood.
Born in Detroit in 1980, Molly grew up in Rochester, Michigan, with a bank-robbing father, as detailed in her memoir “Bandit.”
His mother was a therapist while his father worked for General Motors.
She was just 13 when her seemingly ordinary childhood was shattered after her father, Joseph Brodak, was sent to prison in 1994 for a series of bank robberies in and around Detroit.
He struggled to repay his gambling debts and so committed robberies at 11 area banks.
Joseph would give the bank tellers a note saying he had a gun in his pocket – even though he didn’t – and that they should give them cash.
Eventually arrested, he was imprisoned for seven years before being released in 2001, before serving another prison term after robbing more banks in 2009.
With so much drama at home, Molly did her best to keep her head down.
“I kept quiet, I was good and intelligent, secretive and careful, reading and playing alone, catching insects, collecting stones, reading and drawing. And I wanted to become even less, a nothing, because I thought they could all have at least that, that one non-problem in the house,” she wrote in “Bandit.”
‘The only thing I learned is that there are no easy answers; that simplistic narratives cannot be so easily applied to the messy and unpredictable events of the real world,” she surmised in a 2016 essay for the Daily Mail.
“Did daddy love us?” Or were we just his cover? Or just in his own way? For years I wrote to him from prison via the official Department of Corrections email service,” Molly wrote.
“I visited him several times, trying to analyze his face to find out the truth. But he told me the same stories he told everyone else. I left without any new information.
“I realize that Dad is – like many of us – an irreducibly complex person, and I suppose I will have to be content with that,” she said.
Unsurprisingly, when Butler first met her in 2010, he said Molly was already having problems.
“Molly was troubled, that much was clear,” Butler writes. From their first meeting, she showed him her MRI results which showed her brain tumor.
It tells how Molly had a morbid fascination with death.
“Even if you want to be dead inside, I’ll still kiss your dead eyes.” she wrote to him once.
“Death always seemed to be on Molly’s mind. Sometimes I felt a part of her long locked away without a key, its buried voice prodding her with dark thoughts,” Butler reflects of the person with whom he shared a decade of his life.
Butler also talks about how he is not alone and has to battle his own demons, including becoming addicted to alcohol and frequently passing out.
“The only way for me to finish this book is to kill myself,” he says.
He obsessively digs through Molly’s latest journals, poems, emails, and social media posts in the book — but he also goes back to the beginning, looking at the lists she created as a little girl.
Molly loved writing and kept her childhood journals in which she listed all the topics she wanted to write about, different jobs she had, and thought about what she would like to do in her career.
Writing was a strong point for Molly who earned a master’s degree in creative writing from West Virginia University in 2008.
She moved to Atlanta in 2011 to participate in a fellowship and teach at Emory University.
In Georgia, she also taught creative writing, composition, poetry, and world literature in various schools throughout the state.
She was also an accomplished baker and appeared on ABC’s Great American Baking Show in 2019.
The same year, she launched Kookie House, a home baking business.
Through his childhood diaries and unpublished writings, Butler channels the anguish of a grieving lover as he looks through Molly’s childhood diaries, lists, and gifts providing a window into her complex world.
But this brings Butler his own challenges as he continues to drink alcohol and even considers ending his life in order to find Molly.
A New York Times obituary recounts how Molly “left many other poems behind.”
At Molly’s memorial service, Butler shared some of the 40 poems – one for each year of her life – that he had written especially for her, but never received.
He reads a “sunny yellow notebook filled with forty poems, one for each year of his life, which I had been working on for months as a surprise for his next birthday, in a few weeks…”. If only I had given them to him sooner, I imagined, maybe I wouldn’t be here reading them aloud as to his ghost,” he wrote.
Butler recounts how Molly seemed preoccupied with death, but the book about his wife describes the complexities of grief, suggesting that, with the right perspective, even the black hole of loss can produce something meaningful.
If you or someone you know needs help, you can reach Samaritans NYC at 212-673-3000 or Trevor Lifeline at 1-866-488-7386.
For confidential support, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on 988 or click here.
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