JANUARY 11–Zooming Out w/Caitlin, post-Obama

Here in California, I’ve been waking up way too early—4:30 or so, and now that Nick and I are finally together again, I try to be quiet for his sake. But the sun doesn’t rise till 7, and those dark hours can be terrible. This morning I tried signing onto Facebook, but all the bleak posts about last night’s farewell speech made the day (life) ahead feel particularly despairing.

I was thinking about the fact that Caitlin had had so much meaningful correspondence with others over the past two years. Recorded correspondence. I have little of that, obviously. Our conversations of the past three years–her most contemplative time–were all in real time.

In the dark it’s easy to panic, and that’s what I did. I was seized by this urgent need to scour through her Gmail and find all of her writings until I realized: I can’t just read through her private stuff.

Then, literally then, I got an email from Andrew, a forward of an email from Caitlin this past July where she had linked to an article she admired and talked about her own perspective. With his permission, here it is:

From: Caitlin O’Hara <caitlin.ohara@gmail.com>
Date: July 25, 2016 at 10:20:47 PM EDT
Subject: Zoomed out

This sums up everything I think about the state of the world and life and how I think – only this guy articulately wrote it and has all the facts at his fingertips to back it up. I am only an amateur historian. With all I know cobbled together from years of art history combined with an obsession with organizing time in my head – decades, centuries, eras. The entire thing has always been a visual structure in my head. Some day I will draw it for you. When I picture us now in 2016, I pull back. I always pull back and picture myself in time and in space geographically. It makes me removed enough (like this guy) to ultimately not feel that there is much I can do to change the shifts of the world, but also inspired enough to think – what is my role in this lifetime (whether it’s my only lifetime or one of many, doesn’t matter) to survive this time?  

I am fascinated by this kind of thing. By the ebbs and flows of history. By patterns and by people and all of the stuff he talks about. I guess it’s harder for many people to think in that zoomed out way. For me – it was a mechanism I cultivated as a way to deal with being sick … I’d zoom out, see my own smallness, realize it’s all been done before and will be done again, and I could relax, and enjoy my life now.   Like why I like graveyards. And reading about the holocaust. I like reading and thinking about the ebbs and flows of human suffering, living, dying, living again…

History Tells Us What May Happen Next

I don’t think it matters if this guy is “right” about brexit or whatever the defining moment will prove to be…or even if this time really will end up being a catastrophic time (ahead of us). I kind of feel it might be. But I think his way of thinking is a good one that I relate to a lot. And wish more people did. But then, we wouldn’t have the same world ….

Love my Andy.

I’m going to renew my Irish passport. In case we have to skip out of here. ❤️✌🏼️

Sent from my iPhone

And here are some random things we sent to each other:

Moral Bucket List


From Patry Francis’s Instagram xo

Author: kittenupdates

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

14 thoughts on “JANUARY 11–Zooming Out w/Caitlin, post-Obama”

  1. Maryanne, thank you so much for sharing your world with us. I have an envelope of quotes my mother found and was drawn to in some way. The envelope also contains poems and articles that meant something to her. I did not find it until after she died. I wish I did and could ask her what she thought. We discussed everything. I hope that your time in California has brought you some peace. My heart aches for you and I hope you know that so many people, many that you don’t even know, are here for you and Nick. I can’t take away the pain but I care deeply for you both.

  2. Maryanne, I’ve been reading all of your posts. When I see a new one, I hold my breath before I can open it to read. I’ve always wanted to comment, but I’m never quite sure what to say or how to say it. So, I don’t say anything. Your writings, especially the most recent ones since Caitlin’s passing, have been so impactful, I feel it physically. I am so sorry for what you’re going through. I think of your pain, it hurts. I’m just so sorry for your loss. I keep you in my thoughts. I pray for peace and a good nights’ sleep for you and Nick. Love, Dot.

  3. I’m really bad at 4:30 AM – always have been and always get up then panicked when I am going to get up panicked – my solution is books on tape… old classics… sometimes they put me back to sleep – other times they capture my imagination but always they distract me from that horrible time of the day/night that are my hours of terror. xxx

  4. We are so vulnerable in the night. It’s when the veil is lifted and we are exposed. Isn’t sleep “the little death?” Have you ever awoken and felt like you were falling? I always think that’s our souls “stepping out” and getting caught dropping back into our bodies. But I digress…

    I watched an interview with Andrew Garfield, the actor in Silence, a film I am also keen to see. Garfield followed the 12 steps of Ignatian Spirituality to prepare for his role as a Jesuit priest. He said something that struck me: “Suddenly, everything becomes a miracle.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fi3V4OzrkaA

    Caitlin had that perspective.

    It is why I am not in despair during a time in history that will likely get far, far worse. How do I say this without sounding flippant…? It doesn’t matter. Politicians don’t matter. (“Clowns to the left of me; jokers to the right…”) They matter on a large scale of course, but the older I get the more I believe that God gave us a small acre of land with a certain group of people. All he asks of us is to tend it. Our home, our neighborhood, our hospital room, our hotel suite–everything directly related to us, that we are connected to, where we understand the history and can make a real difference. A place where we can act with love, even in the midst of great suffering. BECAUSE of great suffering. What makes us more attuned to what’s important than when life strips us down, beats us down, shows us it will take what we hold most dear…?

    In C S Lewis’s SCREWTAPE LETTERS, the young demon expresses excitement to the old seasoned demon about the coming war because of the large scale death and chaos it will bring to humankind. The old demon reprimands him for being so stupid because it is during times of great distress that great heroes emerge, that LOVE is wild and rampant and sometimes all there is. The old demon says boredom, full bellies, contentment are the demon’s best weapons because humans forget God, and become selfish and petty, and make trouble.

    But who wants to suffer? No one. Not even Jesus (“Take this cup from me if it is your will.” “Why have you forsaken me?”) And you and Nick have suffered enough for ten lives.

    That is my prayer for you now: Peace. Gentleness. Calm. Enjoyment of the moment. Winks from Caitlin in seagulls and cats on airplanes and feathers and rainbows.

    Love to you both.

  5. I’m so grateful for the comfort and kindness of Caitlin’s amazing words and extraordinary perspective. She continues to be a gift to us in uncertain times. Love back is the best reaction. Safe travels.

    Like David Brooks, we find ourselves “running across a person who radiates an inner light. These people can be in any walk of life – in today’s life or perhaps tomorrow’s life.”

  6. Maryanne, I too take a deep breath before I read your posts. They are all so beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time. I constantly think of you and Nick, hoping you are finding some peace.

    Early morning/middle of the night are always so difficult. There is so much darkness, no hint yet of the coming dawn. But while in the west coast it is 4:30 am, its 7:30 here :-). So turn the light on your phone and please text any of us on the east coast – we are all here for you. Xo

    I don’t have any deep brilliant thoughts like any other have expressed, but instead think of J. M. Barre:

    “You know that place between sleep and awake, that place where you still remember dreaming? That’s where I’ll always love you. That’s where I’ll be waiting”.


  7. Such a great post, Maryanne. Zooming out to zoom in on purpose. It dawned on me that Caitlin, too, had read Many Lives, Many Masters. Yes? We go on to our ‘next’ when we’ve accomplished our purpose in the current.

    Those dark, trying hours. I hurt for you. The soul lingers. Continue to feel her near. She is well and ready for her next.

    Peace and love to you, my friend. xx

  8. She was such a wise soul, one of the deepest I’ve encountered. What I lack in physical memories with Caitlin, I gain in two years of working closely together as a team, a “dynamic team,” someone just said to me. And all of it remote so all captured. Most of it is mundane but there are little presents from her sprinkled throughout, like what I posted yesterday. And I can always review how she handled situations, and we did deal with some personalities, and we did have to put out some fires together!

    All I can say is that, when I think of Caitlin, I think of you. You were so fundamentally linked, sharing the same small space but also reading the same things, eating the same things, you were in many ways one. So when I find myself thinking now, I wonder what Caitlin would have thought about this, I think, Maryanne would know. Not everything, of course, but I imagine you knew her best of all. It’s not the same as having something to tangible to hold and review, but it’s all inside of you. Not just because she came from you because of the bond and the life you two shared. I don’t even know if there’s a term for it.

    I’ll tell you at another time about my godmother. We called her Kitty too, Kitty Lou.

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