JANUARY 16–Ropes Course for Souls

Big Sur. I had it in my head that we needed to get here.

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Fairy Ring of Coastal Redwoods

The glorious, big days are somewhat easy here. Night is still night, and nights are hard. At 2am the night before last, after getting a dozen messages from people telling me of signs they were sure they received from Caitlin’s soul, I thought, okay, I’m going to ask for a hard sign. I want a monarch butterfly to fly around me in a complete circle. Tomorrow.

And yesterday we went to Esalen for massages and to experience their famous hot sulphur springs.

Time has been a strange thing. Sitting in the hot water with the sea crashing below, all I could think was, Exactly four weeks ago today, Caitlin was in surgery and we were so relieved and happy. And now I am at Esalen, a place that seemed like Neverland.

Nick loved the energy at Esalen and afterward, went to look at the big farm garden there. I sat in an Adirondack chair overlooking the Pacific and I thought about the end of Mad Men and how I wanted Caitlin to see that I was there and a couple of monarch butterflies began flying all around… not right around my face, the way I’d envisioned, but in big swooping circles that took in much more than me.

A few people have said they enjoy reading Caitlin’s thoughts so here’s something relevant, as we all face the coming week.

From: Caitlin O’Hara <caitlin.ohara@gmail.com>
Date: October 2, 2016 at 10:31:46 PM EDT
To: andrew
Subject: Wow read this


With my big book, Sarum – that I’ve been reading that traces England from beginning of man to now — to this new book I’m reading – which does a similar thing with the slave trade and is already so so so good and opening up news ways of looking at slavery (for me) I just feel like plus alongside this election, which is challenging everything I took for granted ..::it’s an interesting and weird time to be alive and experiencing. I can’t help but imagine these times in the past that I read about, and then think how the time we live in now will just be something that happened to someone else, in the future….It will be this weird blip in history that is a forgone conclusion because it’s over, it’s sorted out. We learn about bad things that happened and somehow they don’t seem quite as unbelievable because the people in the future have figured out why it happens, and we know the ending.  I hope it doesn’t happen soon, but at some point the US will no longer be around, or it will be much different than it is now. And it won’t seem weird to people reading about it in history books. We will just seem like the dumb idiots of history who elected trump. Like the sheep in Germany who followed hitler. A question on a test somewhere. We parse the decades out and they all seem so different

– when I read Sarum I have a tendency to do a double take when things are different from say 1650 to 1690—when the area in the book has undergone a huge change. But of course in our modern history entire revolutions and wars happen in shorter times. Countries fall. We are all the same and we all have a collective fallibility and vulnerability. It can happen to any country and any place … but we also are all the same in that we never seem to really learn from history or believe WE are the ones making mistakes.

It’s part of why the idea of souls makes sense to me. This place is just like a ropes course for souls. A learning center. It never changes and the collective body of humans can never sustain their progress too too much or else there is not enough to challenge the souls. Imagine all the people living life in peace ✌️ John Lennon – well that wouldn’t really work if you believe we need to be challenged to grow. At least in the human form.



** The slave trade book was Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi

Sarum is by Edward Rutherfurd

Author: kittenupdates

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

21 thoughts on “JANUARY 16–Ropes Course for Souls”

  1. I am struck once again with the power of her words. Each time I learn something new about her soul which warms mine.

  2. Maryanne….. Butterflies! I am so glad the hard sign you asked for was a buttterfly. You might remember a couple of weeks ago I mentioned that my mother’s spirit returns each spring as a butterfly. There was more to that story that I will tell you now. She loved butterflies and we went to a butterfly garden several times each time I visited her in Florida before I had to move her back North to be closer to me. Several years passed before she passed away. In addition to the butterflies flying around her grave ( at Sharon Memorial Park ) where there are no flowering plants to attract any butterflies; we returned home to begin Shiva to find a large butterfly on a flowering plant that we had placed near our front door!you can imagine my reaction! We now live in NH and every spring there are butterflies by a waterfall/pond feature in our front yard. One day there was a particularly beautiful large butterfly on the surrounding landscaping. I wanted to take a close-up photo but the camera was in the house. I found myself talking to the butterfly ( my mom’s spirit ) and telling her not to fly away… I would be right back. I ran into the house, grabbed my camera and the butterfly had NOT moved! It was on the same flowering bush where I had left it several minutes before. I truly believe that butterfly was a sign from my mother and I am so glad that you are receiving signs from Caitlin. I hope you and Nick continue to find peace and signs on this trip and forever.

  3. Wow, you got your butterflies! I loved reading this letter from Caitlin. I was there in the condo talking to her about this book. What a big mind she has. I would like to someday read the book and feel these things she felt so keenly about time and history— i wonder if the slave trade book is the same author? i just read the republicans already voted to do away with the pre-existing condition clause. i’m going to make some phonecalls. In your beautiful daughter’s honor. Remember, those trees you are loving are wildly alive and want to help, I saw that in a vision once. And recently on NPR heard some woman talking about how trees are cooperating with each other– not really competing. They take care of each other, knowing that to take care of the other is to take care of the self. I AM SO HAPPY THOSE BUTTERFLIES CAME!
    love to you and Nick,

    1. Sarum is about 30 years old—I read it when she was little and loved it for all the reasons she loved it. It’s by a guy who writes big, researched books that span time—Edward Rutherfurd. The slave trades book is the current “Homegoing,” by Yaa Gyasi. We both loved it.

  4. How wonderful that you are there in that magical, beautiful place with the Mad Men connection to Caitlin. I really believe in the signs, as you know. Haven’t had any more since the one I emailed you about, but I’m sure if something happens and it makes you think of her, it’s her. And it’s amazing that she was able to give you the sign you asked for. My understanding is that that is very difficult to accomplish.

    More so than signs, I just feel her, in happy moments, moments when I am enjoying nature or art or Juni. I look at the world differently now. I see how she cherished that which is beautiful and special, so I find now I’m seeking out beauty and cherishing it and thinking of her while I do. It’s a new way of living almost.

  5. Maryanne,
    I love reading what Caitlin wrote. What a brilliant and sensitive person and soul; one which continues to live and grow among your community of friends and followers. I’m so grateful to be able to read her words and thoughts. I’m going to look up “Sarum” right now. I just told Steve that Nick loves Esalen! I’m so glad you have taken this time away (sort of away). ❤

  6. Thank you for keeping me in the loop of your thoughts & feelings, it helps me a lot. I can’t get the picture out of my head when you approached me at the Natick Mall asking me why I had the CF bumper sticker. Sometimes it seems like yesterday, sometimes as long as it was, I love you, Gina

  7. Maryanne you know that butterflies are a symbol of reincarnation, right? I’m so glad they encircled you with Caitlin’s soul. xxx

    Here’s just one list of their symbolism.

    The butterfly is a universal symbol of reincarnation, resurrection, rebirth, transformation, change, new beginning, freedom, celebration, luck, time, young love and the Soul because it represents the cycle of life in 3 stages:

    The Caterpillar – Birth
    The Chrysalis – Death
    The Butterfly – Rebirth

    There are many other symbolic meanings associated with the butterfly:

    Ancient Mythology – Symbolizes wisdom and everlasting knowledge.
    Ancient Greeks and some Russians – Souls of those who have passed away.
    Mexicans – Monarch butterflies are seen as the returning souls of the deceased because they migrate there every year around the Day of the Dead.
    4. Greek Mythology – The soul’s undying love. Psyche (which means soul) takes the form of a butterfly and is forever bound to Eros (the Greek god of love) as they share a timeless passion.
    Chinese – Long life, young love, marital bliss, and joy.
    Mandarin Chinese – The word for butterfly is “hu-tieh”, “tieh” meaning “70” years, therefore butterflies have become a symbol for a long life. Also for young men in love.
    Japanese – Personification of a human’s soul, marital bliss, and young maidens in love.
    Irish – Souls of those who are waiting to pass through Purgatory.
    Christianity – Rebirth and resurrection.
    Western World – Freedom, fun, and joyous times.
    Native American – Called upon for guidance in times of change. Also a sign of happiness. They believe that if you have a wish that you want to come true then you capture a butterfly and whisper the wish to her. Since butterflies make no sound, she can only tell the wish to the Great Spirit. After the wish is whispered to her she is set free and takes the wish up to the heavens to be granted.
    Copyright © 2014 Drake Bear Stephen. Except where acknowledged.

  8. Maryanne,
    You don’t know me and I have come to know of Caitlin’s need for lungs through a mutual friend, albeit not a close friend. I have, however, become absolutely wrapped up in your stories.
    You seem to be some of the most soulful and kind people on the planet, people I’d love to call friends. I am a Masshole for the past 5 years living on Cape Ann but I was born and lived most of my life in RI.
    I’ve been reading this blog since just before Caitlin’s passing and of course had to go back and read all the archives. I am deeply and thoroughly relishing the writings of hers that you have shared. She is an old soul and how fortunate were those who got the chance to know her.
    I too believe that the soul goes on. I have no idea how or in what capacity. It’s strange but I have always held the belief that this life is just a ‘learning center’. We as humans repeat the same old crap generation after generation. We tend to think that we are the center of it all. But it’s all been done before, and those hundred year old lobsters and giant redwoods have watched it all get screwed up by humans again and again and again.
    I tried to explain to my husband the ‘zoomed out’ take on things. He doesn’t get it. And he’s no dummy, in fact he’s a very intelligent and accomplished physician. He just can’t take a step back to look at things from a different viewpoint. We are not here forever, and there are no guarantees, and life is filled with hardship.
    I have a 4 year old daughter with autism. She is very high functioning, but it still is challenging on a daily basis. My 6 year old son is the epitome of happiness and joy, making me thing this may be his soul’s first go-around. I am thankful for them both.

    In reading about Caitlin’s early years I am struck at her wit and how wise beyond her years she was. Baby Donkey Land. That is something I’ll never forget.

    I have a lot inside that I need to put on paper. I also need to read your book. You and Caitlin are an inspiration. Some people have great lungs but no mummy. I am among them. In fact, my own mummy smoked herself to death at age 48, almost 20 years ago. It is not fair.

    Thank you for sharing the most heartfelt and soulful program I’ve ever seen. The poem Dogfish by Mary Oliver is new to me and I love it so very much. I’ve long been a fan of The Art of Losing.

    Wishing you and Nick healing and love and peace in this trying time.

    1. Thank you so very much for writing. Getting responses like this make writing on the blog worth it. I love that you have connected to Caitlin. It feels important to keep her alive in this way.

      (Your son actually sounds like an older soul. Young souls are fearful and like authority. ha)

      I love Cape Ann—I often go up to Rockport to hole up and write.

      1. I’m so thankful for this blog. I do wish I’d had the chance to know Caitlin in this life, but believe there will be other chances.

        Ha ha, so my son and I are old souls and my daughter and husband are newbies!

        Rockport is enchanting. So beautiful, peaceful, quaint.
        Enjoy California! I have a lot of family out there up and down the coast. If we didn’t live here we’d be there. 🙂

  9. What a beautiful, wise soul your daughter is and was, Maryanne. I’m so glad you are continuing to share here.

  10. As always, thank you for your heartfelt words and for sharing them so freely with us all. I love reading Caitlin’s thoughts and they kind of make me feel a little closer to her.Now about the nights, yes they are more difficult. When I am lonely, scared or sad, I look up beautiful things on the internet, beautiful flowers, birds. just about anything lovely. I also look for beautiful videos that make me happy in some way so I hope you like the one I have Chosen here, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CDZOMEk1d5E I hope this helps in some small way. Thinking of you and Nick!!!


  11. I was just thinking about how beautiful it might be to have a few very small stained glass square windows with Caitlin’s birds or the one footed bird or a butterfly. There is a 3M product that simulates real stained glass, though I should think you would prefer the real stuff. But, you could enjoy the beauty of the vibrant color in the sunshine, in some spots of your house where you work or do dishes, etc.

    I also loved Caitlin’s observations, as a result of the book. It is remarkable how, after a glorious period of progress and productivity, there is inevitably a tyrannical emergence that sets society back, unnecessarily. I think of the Inquisition and Savanerola as two examples. Also, I cannot help but imagine Trump in Nero’s mosaic bathtub. That would be the one in the Vatican Museum.

    Thinking of you.

  12. I feel like I should add to my earlier post. I hope you did not think I felt I had a corner on grief because I surely did not mean that at all. I do in fact as I said look at beautiful things when I feel sad but many times I just feel sad anyway. It doesn’t always work at all but It is just something I try. I have been doing some research on Hospital architecture(I have been a librarian for a very long time) and see so many wonderful photos of gardens with lovely trees standing tall to reach the sky and I wished so much very much that the Dawn Redwood that Caitlin loved so much at Children’s had that chance. This is what I wanted to write to you but I think it is ok to put it here. Perhaps there is still something I can do although perhaps not: I would like to try in her memory if that is ok.. I read on your facebook that one of your friends has a cutting from a Dawn Redwood that you could plant at your house; this is such a lovely idea and would be so wonderful to have as a special tribute for your darling Caitlin. I hope to visit Edgell Cemetery soon as it looks lovely and a kind of mini Mount Auburn where my parents are surrounded by Spruce trees. It sounds like your time in California is what you needed and I know Caitlin is with you all the way and I am so glad.

    All The Very Best Always,

  13. Love the Monarch butterflies, what a lovely sign. And I’m so happy there was more than one, I imagine it’s Caitlin with another gentle , caring soul.

    Thinking a lot about Caitlin today – incredible the range of emotions in 4 short weeks.

    Enjoy dinner tonight and give Jess a big hug for me. And Vernon will give you both a big hug from us both.


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