The Absence is
Always Present


Doug grew up forever the little brother in Bellevue, WA. Originally from across Lake Washington in Seattle, his computer programmer parents moved the family when Microsoft relocated their headquarters to Redmond in 1986, when Doug was only 6 years old.

He stayed in Washington for almost a decade after college, building a successful career as a local ad agency executive. He had to give Los Angeles a shot after the opportunity to work with brands on the national stage presented itself. He met Shelley his first week on the job at an orientation event organized by her company.

Unable to return to the career he once loved after the death of his daughter, Doug has been self-destructive, erratic, and rapidly spiralling downward. In this new world where not much matters, he’s fighting off hitting bottom.

Shelley has had to endure more than her fair share of hard times throughout her life. Hailing from Waltham, MA, she lost her father to throat cancer far too early, when she was just 5 years old. Currently living in Los Angeles, she also has a sister who lives in Chicago with her husband and son.


She used to be an event planner, and met Doug a dozen years ago at one of her earliest work functions. They had been happily married for seven when they finally got pregnant after an almost unfair amount of trying. She hadn’t regretted putting her career first for that long, until she lost her daughter Hope to stillbirth. 


After a couple years of allowing the emptiness to take hold, she is rebuilding her life, finding a new purpose by starting the non-profit charity, Hope On The Horizon.

Shelley’s best friend and closest confidante, they actually met on Instagram. Originally from St. Louis, MO, Laurie moved to L.A. after she lost her son, and nearly her own life, during childbirth. Convinced her loss was due to substandard care, she turned to social media to tell her story. In the process, she has become a powerful voice in the community, providing a welcoming forum for all those who have suffered to find a path toward healing.


Shelley messaged her randomly once day and it led to a fast friendship. Laurie has been instrumental in helping Shelley find the strength to push forward with Hope On The Horizon but is not through processing her own trauma. In a community often steeped in sadness, Laurie continues to be a paragon of positivity.

Zach grew up as the eldest child constantly asserting his dominance over his little brother, Doug. He was already 9 years old when his family moved from Seattle, Washington to Bellevue, so he was able to adjust a little easier than Doug, but he still misses some of his oldest friends from back home. A born performer, of course he moved to Los Angeles the first moment he could after school.


Bouncing around from job to job and career to career, Zach is still hopeful for that big break as a stand-up comedian, though he’s never stopped enjoying the grind. Never to take any situation too seriously, he was really looking forward to being the “fun uncle” to Doug & Shelley’s child. These days, the jokes don’t always come as fast and furious as they used to.

Ben & Judith, Doug & Zach’s parents, met as classmates at the University of California, Berkeley’s College of Engineering in 1975. They got married shortly after her graduation in 1977 and stayed in northern California when Ben became one of the youngest adjunct professors in Berkeley’s history.


They left the academic world behind for good in 1979 when they were offered the opportunity to help a small, upstart company called Microsoft open their new headquarters. They were key members of the original Microsoft Windows development team, and their hard work literally paid dividends when the company’s IPO made them instant millionaires later in 1986. 


Ben & Judith did all they could to provide a comfortable upbringing for their children. Being elite programmers at a rapidly expanding software company kept them from spending more quality time with them. This led to an emotional disconnect that makes deep communication difficult to this day.

Diane Harrington is a model of resiliency and emotional strength. Her husband, Shelley’s father, died in 1992 from throat cancer and she was left to raise her two young daughters alone in Waltham, MA. Being a single parent couldn’t stop Diane from working every day at a local Italian eatery while also being an involved and inspirational mother.


Diane started as a waitress and quickly worked her way up to general manager. Her dedication to the job for over 30 years paid dividends when her boss decided to gift her Café Perugia when he finally retired. A popular and beloved figure in the community, Diane never let go of her lifelong dream to own a restaurant.


With Shelley’s help, she’s now on the cusp of her own grand opening, but the shadow of her granddaughter’s memory looms large during this special occasion.

Shelley’s younger sister Shannon has even less memory of her deceased father than Shelley, having died only a few months after her birth. She grew up in as the youngest in a house of three women, and the lack of a consistent strong male figure during her most formative years left an indelible mark, often manifesting itself in selfish, impetuous behavior.


Growing up in a working class suburb of Boston gave her a thick skin however, alpng with the ability to juggle being an upwardly mobile young professional with the responsibilities of marriage and parenthood.


Currently living in Chicago with her husband Greg and their 6-year-old son Josh, Shannon works for a well-known Italian Beef restaurant chain, and was very eager to help her sister with catering as she tries to get her new foundation off the ground.

Casey Sherman is a graduate psychology student trying to find the best way to console other men suffering from the loss of a child. Combining his personal and professional paths, Casey has started running a local support group, for his own healing as much as anyone, as he works toward his pre-doctoral licensing requirement.


Casey lost his son Connor a year ago, and it took him this long to summon the strength to start the group. Paying out of pocket to rent a monthly room at the local teen center, it’s been a rocky start finding willing participants. Not one to give up easily, Casey is confident that he’s found his life’s work.

Franklin Lloyd might be the unluckiest man alive, and quite possibly the loneliest. Franklin has suffered the loss of nearly every woman in his life, starting with his wife and second daughter a dozen years ago, when they both died during childbirth. Their second child was a welcome surprise, coming a full 17 years after their first daughter, Taylor.


Taylor headed off to college shortly after her mom and new sister passed away, but had a difficult time adjusting to life without them. She took her own life less than a month after leaving home, leaving Franklin alone with nothing but debilitating grief.


For years, he had no outlet to bond with others who had similarly traumatic experiences, until he discovered Casey Sherman’s support group. He doesn’t know what the future holds but for the first time in a long time, he feels a spark that helps him get out of bed in the morning.