700 words about The Other Me

By Molly Berger

I’m not sure why, but today I decided to Google my name and see what would come up. I scrolled down and stumbled upon a story discussing a girl in high school named Molly Berger. A few words in, I did a double take.

The article began by introducing Molly’s father, Dan Berger. I opened my eyes a little wider. We not only share the same name, but our fathers do too. I dug deeper and discovered her full name was “Molly Rae Berger,” which I found similar to my “Molly Rose Berger”. Further down, I learned that Molly was born only a few months after me and that she too had a deep affinity for collecting inspirational quotes.  She wrote poetry, like me, and had a deep passion for the arts. I instantly thought to myself, Where is this girl? I have to meet my long lost twin! As a strong non-believer in coincidences, I decided that she and I seemed to have a little too much in common. So I read further.

It started with a rash and a fever and suddenly Molly was diagnosed with hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, also known as HLH, a rare blood disease with no cure. Molly suffered for 31 days, and died on May 24, 2011, right before she turned 15.

My body filled with chills at the realization that someone so similar to me no longer walked on the same ground I did. I learned about the impact she made on others, her father remarking, “How does a kid make that much of a difference in just 14 years?” I looked at the picture of Molly with her beaming, warm smile.

In the article, Molly’s father remarks on the many “missed milestones” that he will never be able to share with his daughter, including her high school graduation and her choice of career path.

Instantly a myriad of memories flashed into my head and I was overwhelmed with guilt.  I remembered the months leading up to my high school graduation, and the stress and complaints that I had. I worried about what dress to wear, I grew impatient at long graduation rehearsals, I felt frustrated with the boring final months of senior year.

But I had the opportunity to graduate. I had the opportunity to choose a dress and take pictures with friends and family and receive roses and walk across a stage to accept my diploma.

I had the opportunity to find my career path, to follow my instincts and pursue my passion in college. In a few months, I will again walk to Pomp and Circumstance and take my steps into the “real world,” striving to create meaning in the entertainment industry.

But what made me so lucky? I can’t help but wonder — Why was I given the chance to graduate high school, to pursue my passion in college, but not she?

Maybe it sounds silly, to feel such a strong connection to a girl I never knew, but it brought me to a painful reality. A reality that these horrible, nightmarish stories can happen to anyone, at anytime, anywhere. I don’t know why I am the Molly R. Berger to still be breathing, to be granted opportunities that this smiling, beloved girl was robbed from.

I wish I had the opportunity to meet her.

It’s easy to get caught up with life’s distractions when living it. I fear that too often we forget the cliché “smell the roses” quotes we are consistently told. Perhaps we subconsciously push them underneath our ever growing to-do list made by some outside source claiming other things need to get done before we can truly take time to comprehend life’s value.

I cannot lie and say it’s easy for me. In fact, it’s one of my greatest weaknesses. I find myself distracted by the outermost layer of life—polluted by schoolwork, drama, and the obsession of pleasing those around me.

But I want to do our name justice. One of Molly’s poems speaks of “enjoying life’s precious moments.” That is what I will strive to do. Look into our important layers of life, beneath the surface. Appreciate every moment and always remember how lucky we are.   

Molly Berger currently studies television, radio, and film at Syracuse University. She’s a native of the Jersey Shore, an aspiring storyteller, and a Romantic Comedy Enthusiast. Reach her at Mollyberger95@gmail.com.


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