It’s hard to imagine losing a parent at all, let alone when you’re a young child. Those who have lost mothers or fathers early on in life face an uphill battle, and in a very touching moment, Carson Daly and Molly Shannon were able to bond over their shared experiences during a segment on the Today show.
While discussing her new memoir Hello, Molly! with Daly, Shannon, 57, opened up about a tragic car accident that took the lives of her mother, younger sister and cousin when she was just four years old. Shannon and her sister, Mary, survived the wreck alongside their father, who was reportedly driving under the influence. He sustained serious injuries that required him to relearn how to walk.
In her book, Shannon says she feels lucky to have had those four years with her mother. “I’m grateful I got that time with her,” she writes. “It’s substantial and thank God I had that.”
When Daly recited that line to Shannon, she got misty-eyed and said it’s hard for her to truly be at peace with the loss.
“That part makes me a little sad,” she said, “but I think when you lose a parent when you’re so young, you just have such a sense of how precious life is and a kind of urgency ... I think it makes me appreciative of people being alive, and time with people, and just appreciating the time on earth we do have with people."
Daly then admitted that, as a father himself now, he’s very aware how precious every little moment or hug is with the four children he shares with his wife, Siri Daly — Goldie, 2, London, 7, Etta, 9, and Jackson, 12.
Shannon is also a parent to two children with her husband Fritz Chesnut — Stella, 18, and Nolan, 16. She said getting live “way beyond the years” her mother did brings her some sense of comfort.
“Doing all these things she didn’t get to do,” Shannon said, “it’s a wonderful feeling.”
Fellow comedians like Stephen Colbert, Maya Rudolph, Pete Davidson, Eddie Izzard, and Eddie Murphy also lost parents when they were children. Daly asked Shannon if grief perhaps inspired her to make people laugh.
"Some people say, ‘If that didn’t happen, would you have still gone into comedy or performing?’ And I really don’t know," Shannon said. "But I do think that it gave me like a resilience in show business. When things got kind of tough, I was like, ‘Well, nothing could be as bad as when I was little,’ so it gave me a certain bounce-ability."
Shannon’s memoir, which she said was “cathartic” to write, comes out April 12.