JANUARY 4 –Bird and Bindi

I can’t even begin, right now, to sort out all of the almost supernatural occurrences of the past weeks, write them down, pass them on. I know I am meant to sort all of it out, in words that make sense, to ultimately help other people. And I will do that. But right now I’m super tired.

Still, to remind those who care: there is work to be done. As everyone has been informing me, France is now one more “opt-out” country—-meaning you’re an organ donor unless you opt out. We are going to work on fixing as much of the broken transplant system in our own country as we can. I’m grateful to everyone who has volunteered to be part of the army, and we will be in touch.

For now though, Nick and I are going to California. My wonderful brother will be warming the hearth fires here, minding our house, so we don’t have to worry about leaving it untended. Caitlin’s tree will be up through Twelfth Night and beyond.

California is a place Caitlin and I had planned to visit ‘after transplant.’ (How easily that phrase had become part of our everyday conversation; seems sad and naive now, but I’m grateful for our optimism. It kept us going.)

Oddly, neither she nor I have/had ever been to California, so we will take her with us in the only way we can: spiritually. We will drive up the Pacific Coast Highway, stay in Big Sur, and eventually visit Jess in San Francisco. We will see redwoods, and honor the one so foolishly cut down by the arrogant and sorry young souls who make up the current administration of Boston Children’s Hospital.

A few years back, in her beloved Paris, Caitlin bought herself a tiny, bird-shaped ring. It became one of her most treasured possessions. I just couldn’t bear to put it into the

<< coffin, horrid word>>

Instead, I’ve tied it to a necklace of mine. I added a red bindi from the little sticky-pack Jess brought back from India. I put the bindi in between the bird’s wings. I will wear it on our trip and Caitlin will be with us up at Big Sur and in San Francisco with Jess, and with us among the redwoods that stupid humans haven’t yet destroyed.

bird and bindi.JPG
Bird and bindi

My niece Emily wrote this to my sister the other day:

Know what’s so strange? A few days after Caitlin passed I heard this poem called ‘the art of losing’ on an NPR podcast and it felt really significant to me so I looked it up and saved it and now I’m sitting here reading the writings in Caitlin’s pamphlet from her service and that poem is in there

Later, my sister wrote:

Today is my first day back at working out. I always put in a podcast to keep me on the treadmill and it turns out the first one in my queue was the one that ends in that poem. ❤

These are the coincidences that are not coincidences.

The only omission in the service program was the title and author of the quite-famous  poem–which is actually a form of poem called a villanelle, a form that itself, is very hard to master….


by Elizabeth Bishop

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.
Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.
Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.
I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.
I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.
—Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.


Author: kittenupdates

I am the author of CASCADE and LITTLE MATCHES: A Memoir of Grief and Light

21 thoughts on “JANUARY 4 –Bird and Bindi”

  1. The Art is one of my favorite poems ❤
    I will always think of Caitlin when I read it.
    Safe travels, dear friend

  2. I love this. I love every time you post. I just cherish each and every post. I appreciate whatever you share, whenever you share it.

    Your trip sounds so lovely! I hope it is helpful and healing in exactly the right ways. I know Caitlin will be with you. You know I’m nearby if anything is needed while you’re away.

  3. I love this post in every way. I’ve been carrying the program with me to tell Caitlin’s beautiful story to my friends who followed her journey through my telling her story this past year. Today a co-worker saw the program and made the connection that Caitlin is the same young woman that her husband and all the guys who play golf with Nick were praying for all these months. So much love from all corners. Wishing you a peaceful trip.

  4. In the realm of the supernatural, there was a “sun-bow” in the sky just after I learned Caitlin had passed. Later that night, there was a tiny, brown and white bird feather sitting on the rim of my bathtub. (No idea where it came from.) Today, two bald eagles took flight over me while I went for a run, and gave the most thrilling cries. I thought of Caitlin while they soared above me.

    “May the road rise up to meet you.
    May the wind be always at your back.
    May the sun shine warm upon your face;
    the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
    may God hold you in the palm of His hand.”

    Safe travels. xo

  5. Thank you so much for writing. I have been thinking of you all day and wondering how you are. The trip to California sounds like a good one and as you know, Cailin will be with you.I hope and prayer that is ends up being what you need right now; I think it will. The ring and bindi is simply beautiful as is the lovely villianelle. When the time comes, I would be so honored to help you with organ donor awareness, The Prouty Garden( I am still hoping that what is left might be made into a new garden), whatever you want. Losing someone is so difficult that try as I might, I doubt that I could say anything to make you feel better but please know that I pray for you and Nick everyday and I know that Caitlin will always be with you both. I am trying very hard to make the most of everyday knowing that Caitlin did just that for as long as she could;she is truly my inspiration. Sending you peace and much love.


  6. The power and beauty that continues to waterfall and stream here leaves me breathless. Thank you, once more, for sharing your amazing coincidences and synchronicities.

  7. Dear Maryanne,

    Your resolve to move forward and with anticipation of seeing new sights and enjoying that time, while carrying Caitlin’s love with you, is amazing and miraculous. You need this and she needs you to carry on with life and with your work.

    As to all of the comments or your notes, yes, there are supposed coincidences. We must delight in knowing there are no accidents. Everything has a perfect design though strangely some things feel sad and are painful. The ying and yang is so powerful and always at work. It’s like Judas’ kiss….even he may have not been in control and those events were necessary to bring us into the light. Jesus knew that.

    You’ve obviously got the energy and intelligence to continue living life to its fullest, which will provide strength and add to the much needed information for the multitudes who cling to your thoughts and feelings which are expressed freely and delivered so magnificently with your words.

    That day you’d asked that we think of Caitlin upon seeing our first glimpse of any light outside, was quite strange. I was in an office and it was a very rare, dark and gloomy California day. The sun had not come out the entire day. At about 3 PM, I was standing near a window, at a fax machine. I was suddenly jarred by the brightest flash of light from the window, as the clouds had moved just enough to reveal the sun and with such intensity! I immediately thought CAITLIN – It’s her light shining through! I could’ve missed it by seconds, but was right there the moment it happened and flashed right before me (for me?) to be a witness to her light! I truly feel that. I had prayed so hard for her.

    I plan to post another comment once I’ve gone back through her services program, because there were a few “coincidences” attached to it and I think you’d enjoy hearing about them.

    I will continue to wait and watch for your posts, am genuinely uplifted, even in sorrow, by the constant reminders of LOVE that are written here. I truly look forward to hearing about the wonderful time you’ll certainly share with your husband in California. You deserve this.

    Many blessings to you and yours,
    Evie H.

  8. Not profound but I really do love you,
    Nick and Henry! Safe travels dear friends🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼

  9. The raw power of your expression demands connection.
    I will dedicate to Caitlin, my early mornings in Buzzard’s Bay just off Cuttyhunk where the seals sing, as the sun makes dancing diamonds on the water’s eager surface. It is so beautiful.

  10. Hello again ~ Since you’ll be driving through Big Sur, right afterward you must take the time to see beautifully rustic and charming Carmel. The other “must” is to take the 17 Mile Drive from Carmel through Pebble Beach. It is some of the most enchanting coastline! Read about it. Enjoy your time!

    Wishing you the most amazing trip!
    Evie H.

  11. Enjoy your trip and safe travels. I know this trip will help you navigate through this difficult period in your life. Love your posts!! xo

  12. I’m in awe of you and Nick. Going away is so hard but so wise. Doug and I had postponed a trip when my mom took a turn for the worse and then three weeks after she died, we went to Paris as previously planned. I’d been before – the first time with my mom – it was her’s and my favorite city. (And now I know Caitlin’s) And I remember crying the entire plane ride and the stewardess coming over to check on me every once in a while. That trip was both beautiful and sad and looking back I’m so glad I went.. that I did something she would have been happy I was doing.

    And you know for sure Doug and I want to be part of your army to fight the transplant situation.

    And I too, as you know, do not believe in coincidences.

    I didn’t know your brother was streaming Caitlin’s service and that we could watch, so I had decided to honor Caitlin at 2 PM on my own. To re-read my favorite poem, Ithaka – (do you know it? I’ll put it here. I believe Caitlin despite her youth had one of those journeys) And then to listen to my favorite song (not by Doug:) which is hallelujah sung by Jeff Beck. (Not knowing of course it would be part of your service).

    So after I read the poem I hit the play button on my computer and the song started. As I listened I looked out the window. A young beautiful falcon flew down and sat on the tree that is only 5 feet from my own perch. Sitting so still on far too thin a branch… we just watched each other, eye to eye, the whole length of the song, either of us moving at all. And when it was over she flew away.

    Ithaka by C.P. Cavity
    As you set out for Ithaka
    hope the voyage is a long one,
    full of adventure, full of discovery.
    Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
    angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them:
    you’ll never find things like that on your way
    as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
    as long as a rare excitement
    stirs your spirit and your body.
    Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
    wild Poseidon—you won’t encounter them
    unless you bring them along inside your soul,
    unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

    Hope the voyage is a long one.
    May there be many a summer morning when,
    with what pleasure, what joy,
    you come into harbors seen for the first time;
    may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
    to buy fine things,
    mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
    sensual perfume of every kind—
    as many sensual perfumes as you can;
    and may you visit many Egyptian cities
    to gather stores of knowledge from their scholars.

    Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
    Arriving there is what you are destined for.
    But do not hurry the journey at all.
    Better if it lasts for years,
    so you are old by the time you reach the island,
    wealthy with all you have gained on the way,
    not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

    Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
    Without her you would not have set out.
    She has nothing left to give you now.

    And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
    Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
    you will have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.

  13. May you find Caitlin in the beauty of Big Sur – I know she will be there when you look up into the vast sky at night. Ventana at night was magic when we were there many years ago; it is a place of healing and connection. Your posts are beautiful, Maryanne; thank you for sharing. Your little bird is winging her way to a place of peace and light.

  14. So happy you will have make this trip. My mom, as usual, asked about Caitlin (I did not want to tell her before Christmas so told a white lie) and finally told her four days ago when she asked. She sobbed. Then said “Don’t ever keep things from me.” Then cried more. She had prayed so intensely all these months, I’m sure Caitlin feels very close to her– and they both were Mary Girls! She’d prayed specifically to Mary— I said I thought that Caitlin was doing great work in so many hearts. My mom said “She’s very h appy.”. I believe Caitlin is in a state of unimaginably deep bliss, and loving you with all her wild heart from where she is. She, and you, have made me think so hard about so many things, Say hello to Nick for me, Have a great visit with Jess. How wonderful that you can be together with her, SENDING LOVE TODAY AND EVERY DAY MARYANNE.

  15. I hope you have a wonderful and blessed trip; perhaps you are already on your way. I will be thinking of you. California is wonderful. My aunt use to live in Sausalito which is a lovely place.Bye for now.I am practicing writing shorter messages and this is my first attempt.

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