- Molly Brodak, 39, ended her life on March 8, 2020 after being diagnosed with a brain tumor
- Blake Butler struggled with loss for three years before publishing his book
- It tells the story of their decades-long, emotionally charged relationship
The haunting final 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, took her own life 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 died yesterday. ‘I don’t know how else to say it.’
Now he has revealed the poet’s final diary entry, described by one reviewer as “as beautiful as it is terrifying”.
It said: “Took a bath and 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 so clearly this morning. ‘I’ve been pretending all my life.’
Poet Molly Brodak, 39, tragically ended her life in March 2020 after being diagnosed with a brain tumor, leaving behind her devastated husband Blake Butler. The couple is pictured together. Butler confronts the gruesome details of Molly’s death and its aftermath, fearlessly portraying the impact on the living. Butler was the one who found her body. Blake Butler pored over the diaries, poems, emails and social media posts of Molly Brodak, his wife who took her own life in 2020. Butler confronts the gruesome details of Molly’s death and its aftermath, fearlessly portraying the impact on the living. Butler was the one who found her body
Butler delves into the gruesome details of Molly’s death and its aftermath, fearlessly describing the impact the discovery of her body had on him.
It is unclear how she took her own life.
The LA Times reports that Butler describes her manner of suicide in graphic detail, but the newspaper refrained from repeating those details itself.
“I leave this all to myself,” Butler explains, along with a suicide note she taped to the front door so he could see it on the way back from a run.
“How she made sure I was the one to find her body was another form of violence in itself,” he writes.
When he found her dead, he experienced a nightmare of his own.
“All the efforts I could make to stay alive felt simultaneously obligatory and impossible, as if all I could ever expect was, at best, to be up to my neck in blood that looked like water with one black bag over my head, its fabric.” “Lined with mural-style dioramas depicting the scene of Molly’s suicide and streaked with miles of smoke,” he writes grimly.
Butler has used writing the book as a moment of catharsis as he goes through the stages of grief: shock, devastation, anger and, rather than acceptance, possibly grace.
From the beginning, “Molly’s” book tells of her troubled nature, rooted in her past and having a history of depression dating back to her childhood.
Molly (right) with her parents, father Joseph, mother Nora and sister Rebecca, pictured in 1983. Molly and her father Joseph, pictured in 1982. Molly’s parents at their second wedding (they divorced in 1984, remarried in 1988) . I got divorced again the following year.) As a child, Molly was silent, good and smart and mysterious and orderly, reading and playing alone, catching bugs, collecting rocks, reading and drawing. Molly was born in Detroit in 1980 and grew up in Rochester, Michigan. She is pictured in a school photo
Molly was born in Detroit in 1980 and raised in Rochester, Michigan, by a bank robber father, as described in her memoir, “Bandit.”
Her mother was a therapist while her father worked for General Motors.
She was just 13 years old when her seemingly normal childhood was shattered after her father, Joseph Brodak, was sent to prison in 1994 for a series of bank robberies in and around Detroit.
Struggling to pay off his gambling debts, he committed robberies on eleven banks in the area.
Joseph handed the bank tellers a note saying he had a gun in his pocket – even though he didn’t – and that they should hand over cash.
He was eventually caught and sentenced to seven years in prison before being released in 2001. He then served another prison sentence after robbing more banks in 2009.
With so much drama going on at home, Molly did her best to keep her head down.
From the beginning, “Molly’s” book tells of her troubled nature, rooted in her past, with a history of depression dating back to childhood. “The one thing I’ve learned is that there are no easy answers; that the chaotic and unpredictable events of the real world cannot be easily overlaid with simplistic narratives,” she surmised in a 2016 essay for the Chron
“I was silent, was good and clever and mysterious and orderly, read and played alone, caught bugs, collected stones, read and drew.” And I wanted to become even less, a nothing, because I thought that they all had at least this one problem could have in the house,” she wrote in “Bandit.”
“The one thing I’ve learned is that there are no easy answers; that the chaotic and unpredictable events of the real world cannot be easily overlaid with simplistic narratives,” she surmised in a 2016 essay for the Chron.
“Did daddy love us? Or were we just his cover? Or just his way? “For years I wrote to him in prison using the prison’s official email service,” Molly wrote.
“I visited him a few times and tried to examine his face for the truth. But he told me the same stories as everyone else. I came away with no new information.
“I realize that dad – like so many of us – is an irreducibly complex person, and I think I have to be comfortable with that,” she said.
In Georgia, Molly taught creative writing, composition, poetry, and world literature at Augusta State University, Savannah College of Art and Design, and Georgia College and State University. Brodak graduated from Rochester High School in 1998 and earned a bachelor’s degree from Oakland University in 2004 and a master’s degree in creative writing from West Virginia University in 2008
Not surprisingly, when Butler first met her in 2010, he said Molly was already struggling.
“Molly was disturbed—that was clear,” Butler writes. At their first meeting, she showed him her MRI results, which showed her brain tumor.
He tells how Molly had a morbid fascination with death.
“Even if you want to be dead inside, I would still kiss your dead eyes.” She once wrote to him.
“Death always seemed to be on Molly’s mind.” “Sometimes I felt a part of her that had been locked away for a long time without a key, and its buried voice spurred her with dark ideas,” Butler reflects on the person with whom he spent a decade of his life.
Butler also shares that he is not alone and has to battle his own demons, including an addiction to alcohol that often causes him to black out.
“The only way for me to finish this book is to kill myself,” he says.
Ready, set, bake! Molly appeared on the third season of The Great American Baking Show. Molly chats with baking judge Paul Hollywood. One of Molly’s delicious creations can be seen on the baking show. Molly (left) can be seen in the baking tent with her fellow chefs. Molly came third during the content however the episodes were never shown on television. Molly appears alongside other contestants on the 2019 Great American Baking Show. Molly posted a picture of the famous baking tent on her Instagram
He delves obsessively into Molly’s final diaries, poems, emails and social media posts in the book – but also goes back to the beginning and looks at the lists she made 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 held, and brainstorms about what she would like to do in her career.
Writing was a strength for Molly, graduating from West Virginia University in 2008 with a master’s degree in creative writing.
In 2011, she moved to Atlanta to attend and teach on a fellowship at Emory University.
In Georgia, she also taught creative writing, composition, poetry, and world literature at various schools throughout the state.
She was also an accomplished baker and appeared on the third season of The Great American Baking Show on ABC in 2019.
Unfortunately, the final episodes never aired after one of the judges was implicated in sexual assault allegations.
That same year, she founded Kookie House – a home baking company.
“Took a bath and 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 so clearly this morning. “I have been pretending all my life,” she wrote in a diary entry. “In 2019, Molly started a home baking business, Kookie House, whose recipes are still online. Molly loved to write and kept childhood diaries in which she listed all the topics she wanted to write about, different jobs she had held, and brainstormed about what she would like to do in life. Molly seemed like a quirky woman. Here she posts with a chicken in her house. Molly grew up with a criminal father, as described in her memoir, “Bandit.” She was only 13 years old when her seemingly ordinary childhood was shattered after her father was sent to prison for a series of bank robberies. At Molly’s memorial service, Butler shared some of the 40 poems – one for each year of her life – that he had written specifically for her, but never received. Butler used writing the book as a moment of catharsis as he goes through the stages of grief: Shock, despair, anger and instead of acceptance, possibly grace. “Blake takes a sideways look at this stack of carbs I just bought.” “at Sweet Hut,” Molly wrote about her husband in a playful Instagram post
Through her childhood diaries and unpublished writings, Butler channels the anguish of a grieving lover as he pores through Molly’s childhood diaries, lists, and gifts, offering a glimpse into her complex world.
However, this presents its own challenges for Butler as he continues to drink alcohol and even considers ending his own life to be reunited with Molly.
A New York Times obituary noted that Molly “left behind many more poems.”
At Molly’s memorial service, Butler shared some of the 40 poems – one for each year of her life – that he had written specifically for her but never received.
He reads from a sunny yellow notebook full of forty poems, one for each year of her life, that I have been working on for months as a surprise for her next birthday, just a few weeks away…. “If only I had given them to her sooner, I thought, maybe I wouldn’t be up here reading them aloud for her spirit,” he writes.
Butler recounts how Molly seemed preoccupied with death, but the book dedicated to his wife describes the complexities of grief and suggests 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 the Trevor Lifeline at 1-866-488-7386.
For confidential support, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on 988 or click here.