The haunting final diary entry of a Great American Baking Show star who killed herself 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 life on March 8, 2020, in Atlanta, Georgia, after being diagnosed with a brain tumor.
Her heartbroken husband of three years, Blake Butler, shared the news on Twitter, saying: ‘My partner Molly Brodak passed away yesterday. I don’t know how else to tell it.’
Now in his new book, simply entitled Molly, he has revealed the final diary entry his poet wife penned, which were described by one reviewer ‘as beautiful as they are horrifying’.
It said: ‘Took a bath, said goodbye to my body. We ate grilled halloumi and made love after dinner and watched our favorite things on TV.
‘Feel like I can see everything with such clarity this morning. I’ve been pretending my entire life.’
Poet Molly Brodak, 39, tragically ended her life in March 2020 after being diagnosed with a brain tumor leaving behind devastated husband Blake Butler. The couple are pictured together
Butler confronts the gruesome details of Molly’s death and its aftermath giving an unflinching account of the impact on the living. Butler was the one to find her body.
Blake Butler has been delving through the journals, 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 giving an unflinching account of the impact on the living. Butler was the one to find her body
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 unclear how she took her own life but Butler says Molly had been ‘grappling with mental illness and a lifetime of trauma.’
The LA Times reports that Butler shares her manner of suicide in graphic detail, but the paper chose not to repeat those details itself.
‘Leaving it all out for me to find like that,’ Butler explains, together with a suicide note, which she had taped to their front door for him to see on his way back from a run.
‘How she’d made sure I’d be the one to go and find her body, was another kind of violence on its own,’ he writes.
Finding her dead sent him into a nightmare all of his own.
‘Any effort I might make to stay alive felt at once compulsory and impossible, like all there’d ever be left to expect at best was treading neck-deep in blood that looked like water, with a black bag over my head, its fabric lined with mural-style dioramas of the scene of Molly’s suicide inscribed into them, interlaced 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 outset of ‘Molly’ the book tells of her troubled nature, rooted in her past with a history of depression dating back to childhood.
Molly (right) with her parents, dad Joseph, mom, Nora, and sister, Rebecca, pictured in 1983
Molly and her father, Joseph, are pictured in 1982
Molly’s parents at their second wedding (they divorced in 1984, remarried in 1988 and divorced again the following year)
As a child, ‘I kept quiet, was good and smart and secret and neat, reading and playing alone, catching bugs, collecting rocks, reading and drawing,’ Molly wrote
Born in Detroit in 1980, Molly grew up in Rochester, Michigan. She is pictured in a school photo
Born in Detroit in 1980, Molly grew up in Rochester, Michigan with a bank robber father, as detailed in her memoir, ‘Bandit.’
Her mother was a therapist while her father worked for General Motors.
She was just 13 when her seemingly ordinary childhood was shattered after her dad, Joseph Brodak, was sent to prison in 1994 for a string of bank robberies in and around Detroit.
He had been struggling to pay off gambling debts and so carried out heists on 11 banks in the area.
Joseph would hand bank tellers a note saying he had a gun in his pocket – even though he didn’t – and that they should hand over cash.
Ultimately caught, he was jailed for seven years before being released in 2001, before then serving 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 outset of ‘Molly’ the book tells of her troubled nature, rooted in her past with a history of depression dating back to childhood
‘The only thing I’ve learned is that there are no easy answers; that simplistic narratives cannot be so easily laid over the messy and unpredictable events of the real world,’ she surmised in a 2016 essay for the Daily Mail
‘I kept quiet, was good and smart and secret and neat, reading and playing alone, catching bugs, collecting rocks, reading and drawing. And I wanted to become even less, a nothing, because I thought they could all at least have that, this one non-problem in the house,’ she wrote in ‘Bandit’.
‘The only thing I’ve learned is that there are no easy answers; that simplistic narratives cannot be so easily laid over the messy and unpredictable events of the real world,’ she surmised in a 2016 essay for the Daily Mail.
‘Did Dad love us? Or were we just his cover? Or just in his way? For years I wrote to him in prison through the official correctional department email service,’ Molly wrote.
‘I visited him a few times, trying to analyze his face for the truth. But he gave me the same stories he gave everyone else. I came away with no new information.
‘I realize Dad is – like so many of us – an irreducibly complex person, and I guess I’ll have to be satisfied with that,’ she said.
In Georgia, Molly taught creative writing, composition, poetry and world literature at Augusta State University, the Savannah College of Art and Design and Georgia College and State University
Brodak graduated from high school in Rochester in 1998, earned a bachelor’s degree at Oakland University in 2004 and a master’s degree in creative writing from West Virginia University in 2008
Unsurprisingly, when Butler met her for the first time in 2010, he says that Molly already had issues.
‘Molly was troubled — that was clear,’ Butler writes. Even at their earliest meeting she showed him her MRI results that depicted her brain tumor.
He tells how Molly had 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. At times I sensed a part of her long locked up without a key, its entombed voice egging her on with grim ideas,’ Butler reflects on the person he shared a decade of his life with.
Butler also tells how he is not alone and has his own demons to battle including becoming dependent on alcohol, often blacking out.
‘The only way for me to complete this book is to kill myself,’ he says.
On your marks, get set, bake! Molly featured on season 3 of The Great American Baking Show
Molly is seen chatting with baking judge Paul Hollywood
One of Molly’s delicious creations is seen on the baking show
Molly, left, is seen in the baking tent together with her fellow cooking contestants
Molly came third during the content but the episodes were never shown on television
Molly is seen alongside fellow contestants of The Great American Baking Show from 2019
Molly posted a picture of the famous baking tent to her Instagram
He delves obsessively into Molly’s final journals, poems, emails and social media posts in the book – but he also goes back to the start, looking at the lists she created as a little girl.
Molly loved to write and kept her childhood diaries in which she’d list all of subjects she wanted to write about, of various jobs she’d held and brainstorms for what she’d like to do in her career.
Writing was a strongpoint for Molly who earned a master’s degree in creative writing from West Virginia University in 2008.
She moved to Atlanta in 2011 to take part in a fellowship at Emory University and teach there.
In Georgia, she also taught creative writing, composition, poetry and world literature at various schools dotted around the state.
She was also an accomplished baker and appeared on season three The Great American Baking Show on ABC in 2019.
Sadly, the final episodes were never aired after one of the judges became embroiled in sexual assault allegations.
Writing of her time on the show, Joseph Earp said she was the most likable of all the contestants that season.
‘Everyone is very humble, and pleasant to each other, but Brodak displays what I see as a unique, winking enjoyment of the chaos unfolding around her—the grinning hosts, the artificial injection of high stakes. She refers to certain proceedings being a ‘pain in the butt.”
‘When judge Paul Hollywood, who looks like an elderly bear poured into a bad suit, does not enjoy her confectionery, her crestfallen look is matched only by a slight smile that seems to ask, ‘According to who?’
That very same year Molly started Kookie House – a home baking business.
‘Took a bath, said goodbye to my body. We ate grilled halloumi and made love after dinner and watched our favorite things on TV. Feel like I can see everything with such clarity this morning. I’ve been pretending my entire life,’ she wrote in a journal 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’d list all of subjects she wanted to write about, of various jobs she’d held and brainstorms for what she’d like to do in life
Molly appeared to be a quirky woman. Here she is posting with a chicken at her home
Molly grew up with a criminal father, as detailed in her memoir, ‘Bandit.’ She was just 13 when her seemingly ordinary childhood was shattered after her dad was sent to prison for a string of bank robberies
Molly’s memorial service, Butler shared some of the 40 poems – one for every year of her life – he had written especially for her, yet never received
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
‘Blake giving the side eye to this stack of carbs I just bought at Sweet Hut’, Molly wrote of her husband during a playful post on Instagram
Through her childhood diaries and unpublished writings Butler channels the anguish of a grieving lover as he goes through Molly’s childhood diaries, lists and gifts offering a window into her complex world.
But doing so brings Butler his own challenges as he continue to drink alcohol and even contemplates ending his own life in order to be reunited with Molly.
So far, reviews of Butler’s book have received critical acclaim.
‘The most immediate feeling of life I’ve ever had reading a book—a life lived at the desk and out in the world, a life of openness and secrets. ‘Make art for me,’ Molly wrote to Blake. ‘I will read it all.’ I breathed along with every word,’ wrote Patricia Lockwood.
‘How to praise a book of such wounded beauty as Blake Butler’s phenomenal Molly? The same way one would a life lost early: with love and sincerity and anger and wonder and lithely elegant and observant insights that remind us and inspire us, as Butler precisely does, to live and to love ourselves,’ stated John D’Agata.
‘Molly is a brilliant and brutal book. Blake Butler fearlessly takes on love and grief and the mysteries of this world and the next,’ said Emma Cline.
‘A dark miracle—actual evidence that what we can never know, what we could never imagine about the one we love, is what binds us to them, beyond death,’ penned Michael Clune.
‘I was gripped from the start by this memoir’s urgent honesty. Blake Butler turned a story that was almost unspeakable into a narrative at once brutal and loving, broken and solid,’ declared Catherine Lacey.
A New York Times obituary tells how Molly ‘left behind many more poems’ – even sending a book to him called ‘Folk Physics’ on the day she died. He has plans to publish them posthumously.
At Molly’s memorial service, Butler shared some of the 40 poems – one for every year of her life – he had written especially for her, yet never received.
He reads from a ‘sun-yellow notebook full of forty poems, one for each year of her life, which I’d been working on for months as a surprise for her next birthday, just weeks away …. If only I’d given them to her earlier, I imagined, I might not be up here reading them aloud as for her ghost,’ he writes.
Butler tells how Molly appeared to be preoccupied with death but the book devoted to his wife describes the complexities of grief, suggesting that given the right perspective, even the black hole of loss can yield something meaningful.
If you or anyone you know needs help, you can reach Samaritans NYC at 212-673-3000 or the Trevor Lifeline at 1-866-488-7386.
For confidential assistance, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on 988 or click here.