When I read the synopsis for Jigsaw, I seriously considered giving it a miss. My brother, Jake, is autistic, and I knew if I watched Jigsaw, I would cry. A lot. I didn’t know if I could deal with a story so close to my life experiences. I’d need to hug Jake and my parents and my sister and I’d be a sobbing mess. It sounded like quite the emotional upheaval. But at 7:30pm, I sat down to watch. Once it had finished, and I’d had a moment to recover, I felt a responsibility to write about it.
This show meant so much to me because it felt like it could have been written about me and Jake. Our stories aren’t identical, but as Molly stood there, describing Max and Josh’s morning routines, I saw myself in her. We share the need for people to see what our families are going through, and that desire to get through to our brothers. Molly talks a lot in her show about how nobody really understands her situation, and, before watching Jigsaw, I would’ve completely agreed. But in making this show, Molly’s shown me someone who understands.
Now, if I’m being honest, I was a sobbing mess through all of Jigsaw. Real, unattractive, sniffling crying. But there was only one moment when I had to pause the show and take a minute. It was towards the end, when videos of Max and Josh were projected on the wall. It was a lovely moment, a chance to match faces to stories. But there was one video that hit me like a ton of bricks. Molly is filming herself and Max, and they’ve got the dog filter from Snapchat on their faces, the one where you have dog ears and a tongue sticking out. Max reaches for the tongue on his face. And I broke. I have at least 17 videos of Jake doing exactly the same thing. Jake will reach out for the tongue, and sometimes go and check in the bathroom mirror that his ears are still very human and Jake-like. And so when Molly showed this video, just a sweet video of siblings hanging out, I was a mess. Because it was us, me and Jake. And someone understood.
Friday 2nd April – Autism Awareness Day. I always post on my Snapchat, something to bring any common unconscious biases to light. Yet I’m always trying really hard not to offend people, or make anyone uncomfortable. It’s weaknesses I have like that which makes Molly so amazing.
She’s written and performed a show that is so entirely focused around her brothers that there’s no excuse for any sugar-coating. She has set out to make the world a better, more understanding place, and she does it with such enthusiasm and such passion. I could see a little of myself in Molly, but I also saw so much of what I should try to be. Compassionate, kind, understanding. As my screen fades to black, I hear Jake run around downstairs. I smile, as Jigsaw has reminded me that me and Jake aren’t alone.