On Tuesday, I spent the entire day at Caitlin’s Boston apartment. I emptied the Pittsburgh boxes, decided what to do with the contents, broke down all the cardboard. I made the bedrooms look inviting again. I did laundry there for the first time since last summer, when we briefly escaped Pittsburgh for home and Caitlin got to spend a week there. ‘The best week of the last three years,’ she called it.
As I worked, I realized that Caitlin’s little laundry basket held more than just the two towels I thought were in it. I found one of her favorite head scarfs, the one she wore with such chic grace in the photo below. I also found the “MEOW” sweatshirt I had searched for and thought lost.
These belongings–I truly wonder how much damage I’m doing to my heart when I sob over them, but…what else can you do? Repression seems worse. Better to grieve and cry and stuff the little meowing sweatshirt against my face and tell Caitlin how much I love her?
I think so.
The only problem was, Tuesday had seemed like the right day to stay in the city all day because I had planned to go to the evening book launch of someone I really like– someone Caitlin really liked, too: Randy Susan Meyers.
Randy used to work with battered women, and now she writes the kinds of novels that hopefully make people stop and think. She only started publishing when she was in her 50s, in 2010, and she has an impressive work ethic. On Tuesday, she was launching her 4th(!) book, The Widow of Wall Street, a well-researched and in-depth look at a character based on Ruth Madoff (what did she know??) The launch would be at Brookline Booksmith where she would be in conversation with Matthew Gilbert, television critic at the Boston Globe.
Randy and Caitlin met a few years ago when Caitlin interviewed her for the Literary Traveler website. Caitlin was so taken with her! She enthused about how smart and articulate Randy was, how funny and engaging. The admiration was mutual.
I had planned and really wanted to go to the launch, but now, holding the headscarf and sweatshirt, what had sounded great a month out, suddenly became something I began to dread. I would have to see people. People I like!–but that didn’t matter. All I had the mental energy to do was take those items home and flop on the couch and watch something like Feud.
I know I have permission to do anything I want right now. And I’ve been good about following that wise ‘rule of bereavement.’
But. I also want to be a person in this world. I always tell myself, when I’m reluctant to do something, that later I know I will be happy I did it.
And I thought of Caitlin, and how she would have trudged down the stairs to the Booksmith event area with her oxygen tank.
I thought of how, if all had gone well, she would have accompanied me, free.
I went. But I decided to show up right at 7, so I could slip into the back. Yet out on the street, the first face I saw was that of someone I adore, Delia Cabe, with her friend Meta Wagner.
And it was great, how I felt instantly ‘normal’ and comfortable again.
We went down to the event area, the site of happy events of my own, where people were still standing about, talking. There was another writer friend, Laura Harrington. We had been planning to talk soon and now here she was.
The evening was excellent and uplifting and being there, surrounded by people who love and support what’s best about our culture, was heartening.
I have no real control over how people read what I write, but a consistent theme of mine has always been a preoccupation with the personal and cultural salvation that is art. And venturing out, when I really didn’t want to, reminded me of how true that is.
All the people I mentioned have books out or soon to be out, so here you go:
The Widow of Wall Street, by Randy Susan Meyers
What did the wife know?
The Storied Bars of New York, by Delia Cabe
Off the Leash, by Matthew Gilbert
Pups! Dog park people!
What’s Your Creative Type? by Meta Wagner
Take the quiz!
A Catalog of Birds, by Laura Harrington
Compelling family drama published by the incomparable Europa!
21 thoughts on “APRIL 13–Venturing Out”
Wow, that picture of her. An enduring beauty. Sending hugs
Maryanne, you are making Caitlin happy, by carrying on her legacy of strength❤️.
I’m going to put all those books on my book
Rob really enjoyed his time with Nick last week. When the time is right, we should all get together. You say when😘
Would love that. xo
You sold a book (Storied Bars of New York) If your in the City sometime as myself I will take you to the Imbibble a good
Partner piece to this book.
Just to let you know that sharing yours and Caitlin’s journey and your grief has affected me and I am sure many others
In ways we could never imagine, and I thank you for that. Your not alone.
Thanks so much ! xo
Thinking of you often…glad to see you with some friends! I’ll never stop following this post.
Miss you all…..
We miss Pittsburgh and all of you. So much. xo
I’m so glad you found those things and had a good cry. I’m so glad you went to the reading. xo
I love your willingness to stay open to your grief. It has to be so scary (repression is easier), but I agree, you have to let yourself feel all of it. I’m glad, as painful as it might be, that you are finding these treasures of Caitlyn’s. That picture is just beautiful.
I remember when my mother was dealing with a traumatic death in her life, and she would force herself to just go outside and walk. Just stepping out being in the world, although difficult, somehow offered a different perspective. Caitlyn is nudging you from wherever she is, I’m sure. 🙂
Where there is art, there is always honesty and always hope. These wonderful books—all new worlds to step into. We will always have that, right? Caitlyn’s writings that you’ve posted often were about being honest—looking at the hard stuff—but also seeing the larger scope of life. This post reminds me again to do that. Hugs to you.
Thanks, Betsy. Let’s get together soon. xo
Thank you, friend, for your Caitlyn-esque bravery, and for the way you tell your story. Wonderful to think of you having these moments with old friends, and remembering your writer-self. And that’s another beautiful picture of your beautiful daughter.
You are very much like my own sister who suffered a horrible loss when her son and daughter in law died in a tragic accident yet she grieves and moves forward and allows us to grieve and move forward with her. It’s a beautiful strength and amazing to see. Your daughter is so proud of you.
she is soooo beautiful, love that head scarf. I bet it smells great.
I am so glad you went. You are so courageous and I remain in awe of your strength. Please know I may not always comment, but I always pray for you.
Oh, Maryanne. ❤ times infinity. So glad books — and their creators — lifted you for a moment. Thank you for continuing to share with all of us.
Dear MaryAnne ~ Today, of all days, the message is from John 11:26 “And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?”
I had tried other ways to post the Lazarus photo, as further proof of this. I just found a way to do so, by posting it on my Twitter at
I hope you can see it that way now.
It is a copy of a photo that my Godmother took while in Jerusalem, 1982, inside Lazarus’ tomb.
To me, it validates.
Have a blessed Easter knowing you’ll surely be reunited with all those who’ve gone before you!
Thanks so much for sharing that. Truly. xo
touch – hold – smell – cherish – remember – visuals – reflect – be sad – be happy and love!
much love to you. Think of you often.