in Grief, Living Hope, Stories of Hope

Confession: I procrastinated until the absolute very last minute to put these thoughts down. I feel my throat tighten up and fingers go numb at the mere thought of sharing my reality as a 37-year-old woman who has been living an “Unmothered” life for twenty-six years.

WAIT. Could it really be 26 YEARS?!

I can physically feel my body tense up as I recount on my fingers… There’s no way around it now, it’s true. I lost my mother, Diane K. Masulla, to a cruel and efficient cancer that stole her from her 11-year-old daughter. I’ve always fancied myself to be scrappy and independent, but here I am still struggling to understand how and why this all happened.

I know that there are many of us out there who are part of the “Unmothered” gang and while it will never take the burn away, reading pieces like this one in The New Yorker by Ruth Margalit helps me grasp that both grief and hope are partners in a marriage of human emotion. Don’t get me wrong, my grief was sneaky for quite some time. It enjoyed an unhealthy dalliance with anger and also had that phase for an acute desire to be emotionless. And, yes, I truly believed that it was actually possible to refrain from possessing emotion.
I now know that I had to go through those emotions on my own terms to be where I am today. 

Another truth is that I’ve been playing the number game for as long back as I can remember. Turning 37 last August gave me anxiety for years on end leading up to it. You see, I lost my mother on August 17th, (just two weeks before my own birthday) when she was just 37 years young herself. And, while I don’t talk about it much, I’ve quietly had my own personal battles with cancer, and as recent as a couple of years ago. Talk about eerie, right?

So yeah, 37 was no friend of mine. Then my birthday came and went and I was still alive. There was no curse, no lightning bolt to strike me down and certainly no end to my story. 

Instead of viewing life as being short, I pivoted to thinking: What am I going to do with all the years that I have left? My mother didn’t have that luxury so I felt this newfound urgency to be optimistic, energetic and more joyful than I may have ever been.

I decided to change my thought process, update my environment and start to breathe. Really breathe. I started saying YES to more opportunities that could bring me hope, happiness or a challenge and didn’t feel the guilt of saying no to things that I didn’t feel passionate about or just plain didn’t want to do.

Lastly, I’m finally open to the idea of giving and receiving love. I’m not certain if marriage and/or children are in the cards for me, but I certainly do recognize that my heart is telling me that it wants to be filled. My old self would have cringed at that last statement as I was accustomed to just hanging back in my tattered armor, but I’m eager to shed all that heaviness for the real deal. Who woulda thunk?

So bring it numbers! 37, 38, 39 and beyond… I’m not scared any longer. I’m coming for you.


Marcia, who attended Parsons School of Design and graduated from St. Louis University, moved to Nashville in 2008. She has worked in both the fashion industry and as a grassroots organizer for People for the Ethical Treatment of animals (PETA) and later served as the Nashville senior community marketing manager for Yelp. In 2014 Marcia joined The Tennessean as creative editor and host of its multi-media startup, 12th &Broad. She is a founder and managing partner of Nashville Fashion Week and CEO of Roar Nashville, a communications, creative and strategy agency. Marcia is an advisory board member of O’More College of Design and Belcourt Theater board member as well. In 2013, she founded the Tiny But Mighty Fund to protect and assist animals in need and has chaired the Nashville Humane Association’s fundraiser, Unleashed, since its inception in 2010. Marcia was listed as a member of Nashville Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 Class of 2015. She was named arts & entertainment winner at the 2015 Nashville Emerging Leaders awards (NELAs). One of Nashville Lifestyles’ 25 Most Beautiful People of 2013, she has been inducted into the Tennessee State Museum’s Costume & Textile Institute and is a member of the class of Leadership Nashville 2018.