If someone had told us, last summer, that Caitlin would get her transplant and that we would be celebrating her next birthday on the Vineyard, we would have been overjoyed.
Caitlin loved it here. We came here for two magical weeks after her months in the hospital when she was 11. There were teenage years visits to Uncle Mike when he lived here part-time. And during their early twenties, she and Jess would stay at Jess’s mom’s house on the island for restorative weekends. ‘We don’t party,’ Caitlin would say. ‘We drink milk, eat pie, go to Lucy Vincent, and sleep.’
Soon Nick and I started visiting more regularly, too. The last time we were here, in 2013, Caitlin was independent and daytime oxygen-free. Obama was our president. It is truly bittersweet to be here, in every way. But the island has welcomed us.
We are staying in a house we found as if by divine intervention—a house named LovingKindness Retreat, owned by an angel of a woman.
The house has a lot of bird imagery, and the gardens and trees are full of birds.
We decorated it for Caitlin.
On Saturday afternoon, we hosted a gathering of some of Caitlin’s closest friends. It was so special, Jess’s very good idea.
I wish I had thought to get a group shot of everyone. But here are some favorite faces.
After dinner, everyone received an individual pie with one gold leaf candle, a glittery golden bird, and a little box of matches bearing photos of Caitlin on the Vineyard. I asked everyone to ‘please light your candle and make a wish for Caitlin’s spirit and for your own.’
Later, we lit sparklers for Caitlin…..
….and remembered happier years.
Caitlin was born on the 31st at 1:17am, but I spent every minute of July 30th in labor. It’s always been the day where I reflect the most, the day that feels most like her birthday.
After she was diagnosed with CF, on August 1, 1985, I never again took any birthday for granted. But I’m grateful for those two years of ‘ignorant bliss,’ when we thought she was just like any other baby.
33 to 34
On Mondays, I get an email from something called ‘Joe Photo.’ I don’t remember ever signing up for it, but I like it because each Monday brings an image of some random beautiful spot on the planet. This morning I opened my phone just as 7:33 was turning to 7:34. My Joe Photo pic was the first thing in my inbox, and here it is.
–Maryanne, and with love to all from Nick