M’Lynn’s daughter, Shelby, has just died at the age of 25, the end of
No. I couldn’t leave my Shelby. It’s interesting. Both the boys were very difficult births. I almost died when Jonathan was born. Very difficult births. Shelby was a breeze. I could’ve gone home that afternoon I had her. I was thinking about that as I sat next to Shelby while she was in the coma. I would work her legs and arms to keep the circulation going. I told the ICU nurse we were doing our Jane Fonda. I stayed there. I kept on pushing . . . just like I always have where Shelby was concerned . . . hoping she’d sit up and argue with me. But finally we all realized there was no hope. At that point I panicked. I was very afraid that I would not survive the next few minutes while they turned off the machines. Drum couldn’t take it. He left. Jackson couldn’t take it. He left. It struck me as amusing. Men are supposed to be made of steel or something. But I could not leave. I just sat there . . . holding Shelby’s hand while the sounds got softer and the beeps got farther apart until all was quiet. There was no noise, no tremble . . . just peace. I realized as a woman how lucky I was. I was there when this wonderful person drifted into my world and I was there when she drifted out. It was the most precious moment of my life thus far.
I feel fine. I feel great. I could jog to Texas and back, but my daughter can’t. She never could. I am so mad I don’t know what to do. I want to know why. I want to know why Shelby’s life is over. How is that baby ever going to understand how wonderful his mother was? Will he ever understand what she went through for him? I don’t understand. Lord I wish I could. It is not supposed to happen this way. I’m supposed to go first. I’ve always been ready to go first. I can’t stand this. I just want to hit somebody until they feel as bad as I do. I . . . just want to hit something . . . and hit it hard.
Harling, Robert. Steel Magnolias Dramatists Play Service Acting Ed., 1995.
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