Mollie Van Wagner

Mollie Van Wagner


Mollie’s inner glow tugged at the heart and soul of everyone she met. Even on her worst days, she offered inspirational words plus a sassy quip to lift the spirits of those around her. Alas, Mollie was unable to grab hold of her own inspiration, her own smile, despite countless gym, car, and bathroom selfies. The darkness crept in, always. Mollie rescued her lovable pit, Jocko, but he could not rescue her.

Photo submitted by
Chris Van Wagner
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Mollie when sober was brilliant, industrious, fearless, and quick-witted. She was a local singing and acting star in middle school, then started to slide into a deep, dark hole in high school, with mental health issues self-medicated by alcohol misuse. This kept her from success at ASU, and it drove her back to Wisconsin, where she slid into her own personal maelstrom. Sober, Mollie was a stunning beauty with a quick wit and the energy to do the work of three people. But when using, first alcohol and then, tragically, heroin in 2012,  Mollie began a decade-long descent into her own personal hell. Madison, WI, police saved her in 2014 and again in 2017, giving her more chances to overcome. Mollie was loved, and she knew it, but she always felt the need to battle and beat her addiction without others’ help, as if taking help would further stigmatize her. In late August 2018, we had one last visit with her in Maine, a place she managed to avoid heroin for long stretches. But the drug kept telling her it would help her when no one else would. She had just started on antidepressants and real therapy, and was moving towards recovery for the first time in her adult life. But she leaned on her rescue pit, Jocko, a little too much and her support system too little. In the end, the power of the stigma and the lack of intelligent treatment held her back. She died cold and alone, with her faithful Jocko at her side for 36 hours before she was found. It shocked us when we thought we could not be shocked, because like so many other addicts, she seemed to be maturing and turning an important corner. We have a hole in our family’s heart. It is a big one. 

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