In early May 1994, the first edition of Motherless Daughters was released, with a three-minute segment on Today. I was so young (29) and so inexperienced (I’d never been on television before) that I was purely terrified. When I was escorted onto the sound stage early in the morning of launch day and positioned in a chair across from Katie Couric, I must have been wearing my scared-deer face, because she leaned over with a smile as the cameras glided into position, touched my knee, and said, “You’re so pretty, and I loved your book.” I felt my cheeks resume their usual position as my panic fled the room. Her very kind and simple gesture swiftly helped me believe that the next three minutes would be okay.
Everything was okay that morning. And in the twenty years that have followed, it’s all been much more than okay. The book that was launched on Today that morning sailed out far and wide—it’s now in sixteen countries and has been translated into eleven languages, at last count. Motherless Daughters support groups have started all over the world, in places as far flung as Alberta, Canada; London; Germany; and Dubai. I’ve visited many of them; this past weekend I was in Raleigh, California, to meet the group that’s been meeting there for a year. And next month group leaders and members, along with many other motherless women from all over the U.S. and Canada, will gather in Los Angeles for the Motherless Daughters 20th Anniversary Conference. This will mark the first time so many women from all over the U.S. and Canada have come together for the express purpose of sharing their stories and receiving and offering support. It’ll be a day of workshops and talks (with a keynote speech by bestselling author Cheryl Strayed) and the annual Motherless Daughters Day Luncheon and Circle of Remembrance. Spaces are still available for anyone who’d like to join us. Please do! Click here for more info.
More exciting news: Two days after the conference, HBO will premiere the new documentary The Dead Mothers’ Club, a joint effort by filmmakers Carlye Rubin and Katie Green, both motherless daughters themselves. The film tracks the stories of three women who lost their moms when they were young and also features Rosie O’Donnell, Jane Fonda, and Molly Shannon. I’ve seen some clips and it’s just a stunning, stunning piece of work. Please remember to tune in to HBO on Monday, May 12 at 9 p.m. ET and in the meantime, you can watch a clip here.
And then—because 20th Anniversaries only come around, well, once every 20 years—in late July I’ll be co-leading a trek to Peru with Allison Gilbert, author of Parentless Parents. We’re bringing 16 motherless women to volunteer in an orphanage in Cuzco and hike through the Lares Valley to Machu Picchu, in partnership with the nonprofit organization Trekking for Kids. This promises to be a once-in-a-lifetime trip and one last spot has just opened. If you’d like to learn more about the trek please click here. And if you’d like to register, contact me directly here.
All of these events are part of my new initiative moving forward: After 20 years of helping women acknowledge and process grief—important work, which I’ll keep doing for sure—I’m now also taking the next step, which is helping women identify what they’ve learned from their hardships and bring that knowledge forth to do good in the world. We’ll start with the orphans in Peru. Who knows where we’ll go from there?
And oh yes—this, too. A new blog. A new web site. To correspond with a new mission. I ask you to please join with me—at the conference, in Peru, or just from your homes—to celebrate these past twenty years. We’ve done good work together so far, and there’s more to be done still.