JUNE 2 — An Overdue Update with Pics

We are 5+ months out now, a time when a lot of grieving people notice that they have been—-unintentionally of course—-left alone with their grief. We are grateful this hasn’t happened, that so many wonderful people continue to reach out to us. Thank you, thank you. It means so much…. because I will be honest—-it is not getting easier. In many ways, it is worse.

We lost Caitlin in winter and because winter lasted forever, time felt elastic, a time in which she still existed, was still somewhat ‘of the present.’  Now, New England has done its thing and jumped from raw/rainy/nasty/cold to suddenly-summer. A new season that emphasizes the finality of her absence. Yet every day we still experience the jolt: it can‘t be true. That jolt that is followed by images of her face, her voice, her presence. The despair of never seeing her again.

It’s terrible.

Yes, I do get a lot of ‘signs,’ but the human me is still missing the human her. And I know it’s the same for Nick. Philosophical reflection can only give you so much comfort, so early in this sad game. But… writing on the blog helps bring her close. For the past month, I’ve felt I should write something, if only for myself. So here goes.


Caitlin and I were last in London together in 2012, a year that was magical for a ton of reasons. During that visit, on her own, she visited a place she had heard about and loved the moment she stepped inside its walls: the Chelsea Physic Garden, the world’s second oldest apothecary’s medicinal garden.

This past April, Jess and I, as well as my sister Kate, traveled to London, where we spent time with Sinead and with each other. We visited the Chelsea Physic Garden in honor of our buddy.


It was as beautiful as Caitlin had described, and also served to remind me that modern medicine is still quite new, that it is all still—really—so primitive. It also reminded me, once again, that Nick and I were lucky to have our CF child for 33 years, to have lived in the first century where children weren’t expected to die.

Everywhere, there were reminders of the battle Caitlin faced all her life with those diseased lungs.



Of course I brought along the photo.


And found a little hide-away.

At the Chelsea Physic Garden

It reminded me of a beautiful drive that Caitlin and I made through the Arnold Arboretum, with Henry, right after she was first listed three years ago.


On other days, we saw some art, both official and of the street.

David Hockney at the Tate
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Shoreditch. Street art. We all got our wings.



I returned in May to a month I had been kind of dreading. Mother’s Day and my birthday are always back-to-back, and for three decades, waking up to the surprises my daughter had left for me made those days more special than any other holiday. But everyone made it really nice for me.

I can make myself cry thinking about it.

Look at these sweet babies. The hidden one was born a day later. 🙂FullSizeRender-2.jpg

Now it’s June, and Facebook keeps serving up “On This Day” memories, like the ones that popped up yesterday to nudge me into writing this post.

a paris.png

That time in 2012, Caitlin said goodbye to me in London to travel to the apartment she had rented in Paris. It had been a dream of hers—-to spend long, solid weeks, living alone, in the city she loved so much.

Her (truly) giant, heavy suitcase contained weeks worth of meds, syringes, neb cups, plus her bulky nebulizer and portable oxygen machine. Such a big suitcase and only the tiniest bundle of clothes and toiletries. In another life, she would have been a backpacking Peace Corps volunteer.

I was worried but full of admiration. And off she went, that June 1st, 2012 morning, in a taxi to the Chunnel train.


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No words.


Everyone asks how they are. Here are updates:


Andrew is still in Vietnam, teaching, but says that he is coming home soon. I sent him pictures of these tacos I made with Maine lobster meat, to try and lure him. I hope it worked. He’s been eating things like bugs, and although he finds his Vietnamese diet healthy, he’s missing Maine and his friends and family.


Last weekend, for fun, he played in a big poker competition. As one of the finalists, he won a trip to a Manila casino to continue the competition.

Andrew in Hanoi last weekend.

But the Manila casino is the one that was bombed today, Isis claiming responsibility for 37 killed.

Yet another example of how precious ‘it’ all is. Our lives. Our planet. I have joined an activist group that some of my very dear friends are running: Mothers Out Front, a fast-growing organization that is “mobilizing for a livable climate.” Western PA friends, I will be getting in touch, as the group needs a Western PA presence! I went to the annual fundraiser a couple of weeks ago and Gina McCarthy, former head of the EPA, was the most kick-ass, inspiring speaker I’ve heard in a long time.

**OKAY***   Again, you can’t make this stuff up!  JUST as I typed that paragraph, I was distracted by a text from Nick. I opened the IM window, which also revealed my Gmail window and what email had just arrived into my inbox? This from Gina McCarthy.

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Anyone, anywhere, not just here in MA, not just PA: I urge you to check out Mothers Out Front, and feel empowered by joining with others who speak your language.



Jess is still undergoing her cancer treatments every three weeks. She’s had some complications but they have not stopped her from traveling. Last week she got back from a beautiful boat trip in Croatia with her mom and sister, and today she is headed to Barcelona.

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Beautiful Jess ❤

She’s a real-life angel. Trust me.

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I’ve been sorting through Caitlin’s things and I will post some of her stuff soon.




11 thoughts on “JUNE 2 — An Overdue Update with Pics

  1. Oh Maryanne, I wish sympathy were enough to make you feel better. Alas, you were living in the presence of a fierce shining angel for 33 years and not having her there must hurt terribly. Yet —
    and I know you remind yourself of this — you had 33 years of that angel by your side. So for that, the world should envy you. I’ll be thinking of you as the seasons move forward. There will never be a season in your lifetime that you won’t feel her at hand. She is there with you forever, as much as she is not there. Looking forward very much to seeing you in Portland this summer. xoxo Jennie

  2. Glad to find your post in my email, think of you often. Appreciate you sharing your thoughts and feelings with us so much.

  3. So nice to see your post today. I think of Caitlin and you every day. In some way, I count on you being around although I can’t really explain why. I totally understand you missing the human Caitlin. I often miss my dear parents more and have never found that it ever totally gets better although a kind of acceptance comes I think. I call this self-preservation. So much more to say but will wait for another time.

    Peace and Love Always,

  4. Thank you so much Maryanne for sharing all of this. You may not realize that you are on a lot of people’s minds constantly. As a mother my mind can’t handle trying to imagine how you must feel. I can’t imagine myself getting through it.So I think of you, and so much I want to say. But no words make sense, or sound right. So the only thing I can say is, I hold you, Nick, and Caitlin in my heart. You are three there, safe, always smiling with that certain twinkle in your eyes.Like you all know someone the rest of us were just not in on. And I know you will be that again, no doubt.And in the meantime there you are doing something that will really make a difference. I am not at all surprised, but in complete awe. Much love to you and Nick.

  5. I was just thinking of all of you this morning while on a bike ride.
    So good th hear from you. Missing you here in Pittsburgh. One day at a time Maryanne. Hugs. ❤️

  6. That picture of you with the wings is one of my favorites. I smile every time I see it. Loss just sucks the life out of us… giving into the pain is sometimes all that we can do – and it took a long time for me to understand that sometimes it is what we should do. I feel your pain – sounds so trite – but its all there is to say. Sending buckets of love.

  7. So happy to read this…helps to feel still in touch. Great pics and comments. I think of you all very often and wonder how you’re doing. You mention all the time about how amazing Caitlin was, but “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”! I think you’re amazing!!
    Please say “hi” to Nick and Henry for me!

    ~ Cheryl Sullivan :o)

  8. Thank you for the update: I think of you & Nick everyday & pray to Caitlin. Our newly renovated apartment is waiting for an author to take up residency at a moments notice ! Love, Gina

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