JULY 31–From Martha’s Vineyard

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.

Aquinnah cliffs

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.

Meow, meow says the other window.

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.



Lots of old pics of Caitlin & Katie, her almost-sister


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.

Screen Shot 2017-07-31 at 1.13.11 PM.png
Jacqui, Kenley, Mieke
Getting ready. Andrew, Auntie Di, me, Hen

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.’

The beautiful pies from MV Pie Chicks
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Carly, Shelley, me, Kate Ryan


Screen Shot 2017-07-31 at 6.21.48 PM.pngLater, we lit sparklers for Caitlin…..


….and remembered happier years.

Screen Shot 2017-07-31 at 1.21.41 PM.png



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.

FullSizeRender-8    FullSizeRender-7

From the attic. We never wanted to erase it.


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









Author: kittenupdates

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

7 thoughts on “JULY 31–From Martha’s Vineyard”

  1. Some of my favorite MV memories are those restorative weekends with Jess & Caitlin, so many large glasses of milk, games of bananagram and far too much pie! Thought of you all weekend long! XO

  2. This is a beautiful post, Maryanne. I so hope you will continue to post (as I suspect you will). I draw inspiration from Caitlin through every “Note” ❣

    Sent from my iPad


  3. Such a beautifully fitting birthday tribute for Caitlin’s first birthday in her new life.

    When next I visit MV, I’ll visit Lucy Vincent and draw a big smiling kitten in the sand!

  4. Dear Maryanne,

    I have followed your writing over the many months and you certainly captured the inspiration of Caitlin, her friends, family and Nick and you in many facets. You, as a mother, have continued to support and inspire all of us to be grateful and appreciative of each day we have with our loved ones. Your strength and purpose is incredibly insightful and your words weave a beautiful life story of Caitlin and all who are a part of her life and yours. The pictures of Martha’s Vineyard tell as well the continued love for Caitlin in everyone’s faces. What a wonderful birthday party get-together at such a wonderful place. I also have been to Martha’s Vineyard a lot in the 1990’s and it truly is a retreat and haven for our inner-selves to reflect and rejuvenate our souls.

    Caitlin and you are in my daily prayers.

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