JANUARY 31–Half-Birthday, Groundhog Pup

Caitlin O'Hara, Cystic Fibrosis, Little Matches

I’ve been doing some reading about grief and neural pathways and how grieving morosely can become a chronic habit. I believe that eventually we want to be in the position of celebrating Caitlin’s life as opposed to mourning her death, as a friend said last week. So I’m going to make an effort right now to remember Caitlin’s great sense of humor, in honor of her half-birthday.

Yes, it’s her half-birthday, something I always jokingly ‘celebrated.’ It started when she was little and I used to send cupcakes into school on January 31.

This Thursday, February 2, is also Henry’s 13th birthday. Well that seals the deal, Caitlin said when the breeder told us he was born on Groundhog Day. Groundhog Day was one of our family favorite movies. Henry was meant to be ours.

We could never have imagined that we would end up living our own version of Groundhog Day in the very area where the movie takes place. Two years ago today, Facebook Memories tells me, Caitlin and I drove out to Punxsutawney for the weekend festivities. We laughed the whole time, and bought ourselves a chainsaw-sculpture groundhog.

We continued to laugh. Here’s a Facebook post of mine from just a couple of months ago:

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As for our real little groundhog pup, Caitlin realized she had totally come late to the game with making Henry a famous Instagram dog, but went ahead and made an account for him anyway, about a year ago. For a look at her humor and to remember her with some smiles, here we go:

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An interesting thing about Groundhog Day, the movie, and why it really is so great, is that the more you watch it, the more you realize that it really is an excellent illustration of the evolution of the human soul.  New York Times article: “Groundhog Almighty.” 









Author: kittenupdates

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

17 thoughts on “JANUARY 31–Half-Birthday, Groundhog Pup”

  1. Caitlin was something of an Instagram prodigy… she did the Prouty Instagram too with the most beautiful captions. I am struggling to keep it up in quite the same way, but trying still. I think she loved it as a platform for creative expression. Henry is the best and I need to rematch Groundhog Day. I happened to light an extra big Caitlin candle today, brand new. Fitting that it’s her half birthday. ❤

  2. I’m certain Caitlin is so darned proud of you, Maryanne. I know I am. I have a couple of friends who have lost daughters and their daughter’s lives are not being celebrated. The chronic grief took the best of them. Their lives are sad, bitter and empty. Not to say it is easy to step out of chronic grief. I’m sure it isn’t. So let’s celebrate Caitlin’s wonderful sense of humor and all the laugher and chuckles she brought to all around her. Love, love the photos of Henry! Oh… and I love, love you! Gotta love ‘I took the one most traveled because it was easy’. Oh Henry! ❤

  3. Hello – and Happy Half Birthday to your supremely gifted daughter! I’m going back a few days now, but wanted to share this with you. The other day, you posted about butterflies. After reading, I stepped outside to take a leisurely walk with my dogs and then I saw it – my first ever sighting of what appeared to be a “teenage” orange and black Monarch butterfly! Nothing will convince me that it wasn’t another sign and perhaps “thanks” from Caitlin, for being a total stranger, yet having prayed for her and still keeping her existence alive in my thoughts. How is it that a stranger, as Caitlin is to me, could bring about such amazing impact and teach me how to keep my head and heart open, and to receive these special messages? She’s everywhere now! You are so blessed to have her in your life as are the many who know and love her 💞

  4. Happy half-birthday to Caitlin! I’m enjoying thatpuphenry right now…so clever. It indeed is amazing that your daughter is having such an impact on so many people who never even met her in real life.

    While you will have sadness it’s wonderful to see that you are celebrating Caitlin’s life. My mom passed away 20 years ago this June. Her birthday is tomorrow, Feb 1. I used to get really sad on her birthday – much sadder than I ever was on the anniversary of her death – but now I try to celebrate it. It’s become somewhat sacred to me.

    I like the idea of celebrating a half-birthday, especially for kids (like my own, like Caitlin) who have birthdays that fall in the summer or during school vacations. I might take the concept and run with it!

  5. I look forward to reading “Caitlin’s Story” someday so she will have a permanent legacy. As you know, we already know someone who can write the score for the movie to follow.👼🏻👼🏻👼🏻

  6. Bravo! For Henry, for laughter, for celebration, and sheer determination to keep looking at the positive–even if it hurts. Silliness is so wonderful. Hang onto it! (And I love how you still manage to slip in a bit of the profound.) As Judy said above, Caitlin must be darned proud. 🙂

  7. It seems to me you have done an excellent job celebrating her life right in the middle of grief. That’s why it’s been so inspirational and painful at the same time. I don’t think you will get stuck in grief. You will eventually move forward and heal others with your compassion and all you’ve learned. But I hope you never feel hurried out of your grief. It is a living thing — it will lift when it’s supposed to lift– and in the mean time, you will go on celebrating in this brave way you have– this brave and generous way of grieving.

  8. So much to say but my kitty, Gatsby is waiting to cuddle up to me. It is very easy to have “Chronic Grief” take over and I have very much struggled with it over the last six years. I am better now after knowing about you and Nick and Andrew any your beautiful daughter Caitlin. Thank you for continuing to write as it lifts me up and tonight, a special thank you for all the pictures of sweet little Henry. He is so adorable and I am quite sure an absolute delight to be with. Much love and Peace.


  9. I’m not posting about this on FB or anything- and I wasn’t going to tell you Maryannne – but this post of yours is such a perfect gift to me today of all days…. Winka died yesterday. Of natural causes… with us… she slipped into a coma and died on the way to the vet and saved us having to make that terrible decision. She only started to fail about 10 days ago but we thought she was going to pull through. She was just 2 months shy of 18 years old. Doug and I are gutted as you can imagine. One of the things Doug and I talked about yesterday through our never ending tears was your post about grief being the cost of love and it helped both of us so much to have those words. Sending you lovexxx

      1. Thank you so much for everything – for reaching out when you are suffering so much yourself means the world to me xxxx

  10. I somehow missed seeing this the other day, so happy half-birthday, Caitlin. And, Henry, you are adorable and witty. Thanks for continuing to share your stories.

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