JANUARY 13–Glowing in the Dark with Mary

We have been here a week—feels like much, much longer. The rains kept us from going straight to Big Sur as we had planned, but that turned out to be a good thing. We were made to live inside the moments we found ourselves in. We did things we hadn’t planned to do: see Malibu and Beverly Hills and Santa Barbara and Miles-and-Jack country.

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..and just a flutter of, like a nutty Edam cheese
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Spirit Bear for Caitlin and for Gary Richardson

Strange, small-world, meaningful fact: our wonderful neighbors from Pittsburgh, Mary and Ralph, actually own a place just down the beach from where we stayed in Santa Monica. All this time, when they would go to CA, I thought they were somewhere else. (Never having been here, I didn’t have much of a map in my head.)

So we got to visit with them a bit. And that was surreal and healing and very, very good. They are kind friends who will always be in our lives.

Another Pittsburgh–now life–friend, the wonderful writer and soul, Jane McCafferty, has been so supportive with her words and thoughts and the other day wrote, “If you have a favorite saint, or a connection to Jesus, try calling on that now— in my experience this can be real medicine.”

I liked that advice and realized I’d already taken, like Caitlin, the stoic Mary as my own. At the last minute, I had packed the tiny glow-in-the-dark Vierge Marie that I purchased at Chartres when I visited there with Caitlin in 2004. After another 2am bad dream last night, I’ve decided I’m going to keep her glowing figure on my bedside table from now on.

I have a feeling that the real Mary would not have taken herself too seriously, and thus wouldn’t mind this version of herself.

Light inside darkness is always a good thing.

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La Vierge Marie

As soon as we arrived here last week, I realized I had to buy a stronger chain for Caitlin’s bird ring. I didn’t trust the one I had, but I did trust that I would find the right thing at some point, and as Nick and I were walking up the main street in Santa Barbara the other day, I glimpsed a store that looked to be full of necklace chains. Nick walked in and bee-lined straight to the perfect one. The right length, the right color. “Look up,” he said.


I began to see her everywhere, of course. Even in the most unlikely places.

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And also in very likely, lovely places, like this stunning stucco church in Santa Barbara called Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

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St Francis and his birds and Mary
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Mary and 65 Roses

She is everywhere, once you know to look.





Beautiful song sent by Jane.





Author: kittenupdates

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

15 thoughts on “JANUARY 13–Glowing in the Dark with Mary”

  1. Love the song, love Mary, love California, love this trip, love your posts, love you, love Nick, love Caitlin. All love.

  2. I love that song and I will practice it and play it for you when you come home. I love your faith journey and I can’t wait to share stories with you over a glass of merlot!

  3. I love everything you write and it is allowing me to have another journey, and cry fresh tears, with my Jenny who died at Childrens in 2002. We seem to have followed very similar paths through Childrens in similar eras, to mourn Prouty (and be very angry), and to feel all of the particular agonies and joys of CF. I am now on round 2 with Alex and we are on the transplant carousel with Alex at Cleveland Clinic. I suspect Jenny and Caitlin would have liked each other very much.

  4. I am so glad you are finding comfort with writing. You are such a fine writer and I truly believe your art will lead you. ❤

  5. Your writing is always full of so much emotion-peaceful, sad and always heartfelt. The fact that you continue to let us all in is so special. The song is beautiful as are you and Nick. Although I may never meet you, I feel that I know you a little. One of my most favorite movies since I was a little girl is “The Song of Bernadette”. I don’t know why exactly but I think it awakened a sense of something more if this makes sense. I want to ask you something. I do not want to put in here but thought I could put it as a message on facebook although I don’t totally understand how you would see it but please look. It is nothing terrible I assure I just thought you would be the best to ask. Whenever you have time, let me know if that is Ok and I will write my note. I think of you both everyday and Caitlin is always in my thoughts too.

    Love and peace,

  6. I am so happy that the Blessed Virgin Mary is giving you comfort…..the Hail Mary prayer is in Luke and I say it every day through a beautiful form of prayer called the Rosary…..I took my daughter, Ashton to Europe a few summers ago and we went to Croatia and actually saw the miracle of the spinning sun…Ashton was amazed that we could stare at the sun, sparkles were twirling on the edges and we took video….this miracle has happened in Lourdes and other places….your friend mentioned the movie The Song of Bernadette ….I happened to be channel surfing last month and came across this black and white movie….I was so mesmerized by this movie that I would like to go to Lourdes, the healing water is still there. I think you will find Croatia a very peaceful and comforting place…I can give you more info if you would like..

  7. Writing is healing. I believe you have no choice but to let the words spill from you, still, each time I see a post I am relieved, because I know how much the writing helps. I am praying for you Maryanne, every day and if beautiful-voiced Leslie sings that song for you, I know it will offer healing, too.

  8. What a stunningly beautiful post. I could not be more with you if you were right here in this room beside me. I wonder if you have any sense of how many people you are helping? I truly hope so. And of course Mary’s your saint! What was I thinking?
    Love and tears and prayers here at the end of the day, for you and Nick both.

  9. Love this post as I too find comfort in Mary. You probably know this, but just in case, I thought I’d remind you that St. Elizabeth was Mary’s beloved cousin. Saying a special prayer to each of these holy women that they bless both of their namesakes. 💗💗

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