MARCH 20–Checking In

So it’s three months today. December 20, a day that started with a doctor’s pronouncement: “She’s stable, but…”

I haven’t been moved to write lately. Thank you to those who have been concerned and checked in. Honestly, at this point, it’s not any easier. It’s harder. Every day I try to unpack at least one box, and every little thing is a reminder.

I’ve also started to go through all the cards. We are so grateful for them, and I have postcards I want to send to everyone. But it will likely take months.

An interesting and comforting thing: three of us have seen very well-regarded mediums and Caitlin has come through… with concrete, distinct details, many of which no one but me could possibly know about….

I am ruminating on all that and will probably write about it at some point.

I will say that in my session, Caitlin conveyed that she would like her writing to be heralded (her word.) So I’m going to continue to post her musings.

Here are some email snippets that she sent to a friend she never got to meet, a young woman who had a successful lung transplant a couple of years ago. Renu has given me permission to share them. I’ll just post a few for now.


ive done a lot of soul searching (cheesy term but true) the past year, and ive read a few things that have been helpful.  one thing i re read was emerson’s self-reliance which i only remembered from college and high school, but its cathartic to just read the philosophies that are so aligned with what i feel like i know i can trust fully and have full faith in – that is – myself, my intuition.  and also Gilead by marilynne robinson. i am always fascinated by people who are really intelligent and intellectual and yet still very christian – or return to religion after a lifetime of academia (that is not me, but it interests me how those two opposing sides manage to come together). also this book Tolstoy’s a Confession. its really small and he wrote it at the end of his life when he was practically suicidal because he was driven so insane by his inability to have faith, and his in vain attempts to arrive at it logically. i’ve re-read that many times over the years.. (it has a good conclusion)

and what you said about surrendering – i completely agree that the moments when i have felt most free, most OK with what is happening, and least anxious, have been those moments where i am able to let go and surrender. interestingly, those moments seem to work in tandem with my faith in myself.  i know i can trust myself to get through something, to hold on, and ultimately i can just let go of the rest.  so i guess since we have no idea where we come from, and where that strength comes from…that true belief in yourself and your intent to be a good person is sort of divine in itself, no more or less divine than believing in something someone else told you to believe in.  i have always believed in goodness and i know a lot of people say that, but it does feel undeniably essential, and i don’t question it.  as humans we somehow know that we should aim to be good, and where does that come from.  ? if i can follow the fact that i can trust in the importance of goodness, then i can maybe trust that goodness will come of goodness…. if that makes sense.  kind of like karma points.  i have never felt like “why did this happen to me” as I am sure you haven’t either. it isn’t even because of some virtue that i feel that way, it just has never occurred to me to be “pissed off” about my lot in life, or to think that there was some unjust reasoning behind it.  (instead i honestly feel lucky sometimes that i have gotten to feel and experience things that others have to struggle longer and harder to learn).


omg plato’s republic. if i was home i could rustle up my paper on those. i have a weird question for you – since it feels like i went to college SO long ago ….does everyone bring computers to class now? or still notebooks?  i feel like a weird old fogey asking that…

haah ok, and btw, you totally echoed what i wish we could do too…go to a museum and wander around and have tea!  do you ever get to the  MFA?  I like it, but I was just thinking about it yesterday because I was reading about the Met and how they redesigned their logo and everyone hates it.  And that they are redesigning a lot of it to make it “more accessible to first time visitors”.  They did that recently with the MFA, with all the changes, and while I can’t say the changes are bad…I have to say I miss the old MFA….and the article about the Met brought this up too…..that people who used to enjoy getting lost in the old one will miss the new organization.  That’s exactly how I felt…I used to love certain areas of the MFA that were totally desolate and quiet….certain asian rooms, off the beaten path, that no one would go to unless they were specifically interested in or knew them.  The buddha room, which is still beautiful, but now always so much more crowded because its so easy to find.  Last time I went, I found that there were people in every room, there didnt seem to be anymore hidden spots anymore.  It made me sad.  I remember taking drawing classes there as a kid, and sitting in a quiet room somewhere in the corner…wayy off the main egypt rooms,  sketching egyptian carvings on a carpeted floor.  Now its bright and accessible.  I don’t know that that’s a good thing?  Maybe I’m a scrooge.

Anyway, I’d take any museum right now.  !!  Let’s do that sometime, when I am better.



Patience….its being hammered into me i guess.  ha this was the best line — ” it feels like limbo with a stopped clock and you just want to scream and throw things but that might make you tired, so not worth it.” — hahah.  i laugh when i see people talking about great outlets for stress – running! just yell! go for a brisk walk! punching bag!  dance!  im like, well i have no voice and no lungs to propel my body…im not someone who wants to smash anything and then just clean it up….so i’ll just sit here and keep in all inside! hahah.  i don’t really feel that sorry for myself, but you know.  i remember once when i was younger, maybe about 13, and upset about something (non health related) i took a dish outside and smashed it on the patio.  it was like i knew people sometimes smashed dishes when they were mad and i wanted to do it.  but it was like i was watching myself do it.  i picked a dish i knew no one cared about.  and then when i smashed it i remember the deflated feeling of just being like, well, i guess i’ll clean it up now.  i guess im just not that angry of a person 🙂  more of a hysterical sobber. 



ON TO OTHER THINGS.  I hope I didn’t bore you with my novel about what’s been mentally going on in my head.  Right and wrong and everything in between.  I am reading Primo Levi’s Periodic Table right now, and every night its like a tonic – i only read one chapter – one element.  Do you know it?  I share a birthday with him, and maybe i know too much about astrology and am unfairly influenced, but i can’t help but feel an incredible kinship to and relation to his writing.  I have read his other memoirs of being in auschwitz.  they are hard to read yes, but more i feel like a window into a study of humanity that most of us will luckily never see…but should at least read about.



Hi! I’m so glad you wrote. I’ve been wanting to write all weekend but haven’t. And now I’m sitting in my room just hanging out. We are in DC actually. We came here for thanksgiving. Andrew and my mom and I drove from Pittsburgh on Thursday and my dad flew in from Boston. It’s fun! No real reason. We just like DC. I went to GW for two years so I know th city. And my moms new book is taking place here so there was some research she wanted to do. Anyway it’s been nice to do something different from just being relatively alone in Pittsburgh. Staying at the hotel is really relaxing. Room service etc. Today I took it easy enough that when we went out to dinner later I felt really “good” …for me, and we went to this great French bistro. I love classic French food. And I was so hungry for once and had a great time and just felt a few hours of like I was actually having fun and not just trying to be a participant for the sake of making an effort …

Feeling good at the French bistro in DC, 2015
May 23 2002 - Protest on the Mall.jpeg
DC protest, circa 2001. Love that chubby Freshman 15 face!



Author: kittenupdates

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

13 thoughts on “MARCH 20–Checking In”

  1. I just love her so much. Love love, all of the love. “Goodness will come of goodness.” What a beautiful mantra. And the MFA bit, how ironic. She must be going all the time now. I’m glad I got to go with her. Such a special, magical, beautiful soul. The way she throws her arms out in photos, that pure joy and enjoyment of life when it’s good. A reminder, an example, of how to live.

    Thank you Caitlin for your words and your beautiful joie de vivre. ❤

  2. God I wish I had met her….. but you have given those of us that never did meet her the pleasure of feeling that we are in the inner circle. I am most grateful.
    I hope that you are taking things a day at a time. It is process that takes many turns.
    My best …. you are always in my prayers. Lorraine

  3. Thanks, Maryanne, for continuing to post and keep us in the conversation. She was a wonderful writer. Bill Martin

  4. Love reading Caitlin’s thoughts on things. I have to check out the MFA now; haven’t been since they did it over. I will think of her for sure when I go.
    Thank you for sharing her with us. I am among those who wish we could have met.
    Someday, somehow. Hugs to you, Maryanne. Wishing you peace.

  5. Was missing Caitlin and your blog today— hadn’t checked in a while since we’d been on email. So glad I saw this today. She is so wise! I love to hear from her. I know you will make it through, day by day, but so very very sorry it has to be so hard. Sending love.

  6. Love the posts…love hearing about the mediums, too! Still keeping you all in my prayers. xo

  7. I’m glad you are sharing her writing. Her strong spirit comes through with such surefootedness and beauty. Thank you. Three months is everything. Hugs to you. xo

  8. I would like to share a photo my Godmother had taken while inside Lazarus’ tomb (in Jerusalem) back in 1982. The image of his soul or perhaps, the “plasma” his soul is emitting, is evident lying atop his tomb. Interestingly, however, they claim that his tomb is in Cyprus, as he had lived there as well. Either way, it is quite evident that wherever he is NOW, his vibrant, living energy remains, giving proof of life hereafter.

    I do hope you are confident in knowing your precious daughter is still with you, though she must also be soaring in her new life. She brought you the message and revealed it to you in the first spring of her renewed life!
    “The day the Lord created hope was probably the same day he created spring.” — Bernard Williams

    Your continuing to write and share is much needed and helps you and all others to learn and understand. It connects you with Caitlin. She knows everything now. I believe you believe…

  9. Thank you so much for continuing to write. I never met Caitlin but I feel like I am getting to know her through her writings which are always so insightful and make me expand my thinking on so many levels. I always feel like I have learned something after reading them. It is indeed a wonderful gift that you give us all by sharing your wonderful daughter. I can’t possibly thank you enough. If there is anything I can ever do for you, please let me know and I shall try to do my very best for you .

    Peace Always,

  10. Beautiful writings filled with refelectivd depth and intelligence…beautiful pictures of that project a kind and beautiful spirit and soul….I do think of Caitlin and you and pray for you both.
    William Saroyan may have words of comfort as my words fail me:
    “I’m not going to try to comfort you; I know I couldn’t. But try to remember that a good person can never die. You will see her many times. You will see her in the streets. You will see her in the houses, in all the places of the town. In the vineyards and orchards, in the rivers and clouds, in all the things here that make this a world for us to live in. You will feel her in all things that are here out of love, and for love – all the things that are abundant, all the things that grow. The person may leave – or be taken away – but the best part of a good person stays. It stays forever. Love is immortal and makes all things immortal.”

    I send you a sincere hug from afar. Nanci from Pittsburgh

  11. MaryAnne-For some reason, I cannot seem to copy and paste the Lazarus photo here. I won’t mind sharing it publicly, if there’s another way of doing so. Let me know and I’ll be happy to forward it. I believe you have my email address.

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