The Funeral

Shelly's Place
Memories of Shelly
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Shelly's Life and Family
Dear Friends

Dr. Eileen Mollen, Shelly’s therapist, Chief of Pediatric Psychology, University of Michigan Health System

I feel very honored be able to speak about Shelly today. I got to know Shelly as her therapist, and feel very much like I ended up a friend to her and to the family. Trying to help her traverse the journey of her illness. But in all honesty, she usually led the way and seemed very wise beyond her years. From the day I met Shelly, I had to remind myself constantly that she was only 7 years old. I think of Shelly as an extremely bright, artistic child, who had a clear sense of who she was and what she wanted to accomplish, much like the Volks.

Her most striking personal characteristic for me -- one that I’ll always remember -- was her wonderful belly laugh. Even when she was unable to speak, she still communicated with her eyes and that irrepressible sense of humor. On a visit to the hospital in October she and I discovered that we shared a mutual obsession for chocolate. So that day, we were able to share some of the delicious Israeli chocolates that her Grandmother had brought and we fantasized about living in Hershey, Pennsylvania, and I heard her belly laugh that day.

The demands of her illness brought out Shelly’s remarkable strength and tenacity. I was often struck by Shelly’s ability to size up just what she could and couldn’t do and decide how she was going to handle it. And she clearly got the strength from her parents. For example, early in September she was having some difficulty walking but refused a wheelchair. I was very concerned that it was going to be a struggle for her to accept using a wheelchair when it did become necessary. However the next week, as her physical condition had deteriorated, she was very matter of fact as she recognized her limitations. She quietly and with great dignity requested a wheelchair. And so much like Shelly, she immediately placed her energies in more productive areas, like the communication that was so important to her.

Shelly never gave up through her entire illness, even with her difficulties communicating, she found ways to let us know how she looked forward to the future. She always looked to what she wanted to accomplish and dwelt surpassingly little on what she couldn’t do. She certainly has taught me a lot about perspective and just where we should focus our energies to make the most of everything.

Shelly is a child who has truly toughed my heart and leaves a very special viewpoint. One day we were in a session together and we discussed her feelings about having a brain tumor. She stated that part of her was very angry at the tumor. And being the good therapist, of course, I encouraged her to explore this a little more. She then said something that touched me more than anything a child could say to me. Her very very poignant response to me was and I quote “But I’m not too angry that I have a brain tumor, because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t have met you.”

Then as now, she moves me to tears. I can at least say that Shelly will live on in my heart and the hearts of so very many people that she uniquely touched.

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The Funeral
Shelly's Place

Created by Ruti Volk
Last updated 7-22-99