SEPTEMBER 26 — The Caitlin Book

From a little notebook of Caitlin’s:

April 27th, 2012
I am grateful for —
My parents
My friends
My apartment & car
My dog
My ability to be able to go out and have fun even though I’m sick.

In July of 2014, 6 months into full time care-giving, I realized that I hadn’t worked on my new novel and that it would be easy to continue to ignore it, indefinitely. So I started carving out a daily chunk of time. I would set my timer to 30 minutes and write, with full focus, for at least that amount of time. At the end of each session, I circled the date in red.

It’s amazing what you can do with 30 focused minutes. I managed 254 pages–a decent draft of a new novel. In 2+ years, I did not miss a day until I finally gave up, in the ICU, on December 11.

Last week, on September 18, which was our 35th wedding anniversary and the 9-month anniversary of Caitlin’s transplant, Nick and I walked around Walden Pond.

Walden Pond, 2017

When we came home, I started setting the timer again — for 33 minutes, in honor of Caitlin.  But instead of working on the novel, for the moment I’m compiling parts of this blog and other words into something that I’m just calling “the Caitlin book” for now.

At this point, it is painful. I started at the beginning of the blog, but now I’m into the December posts, which I had not read since I wrote them. Reliving each shock after shock, the kernel of faith, the hope, the desperation, and then that final joy when she went into the OR on December 18 and received lungs.

It’s still impossible to believe things played out the way they did.

But a week does not pass that I don’t receive a blog comment, an email, or a hand-written note from someone, somewhere, who has been bettered by Caitlin’s story. Here is a recent one (accompanied by heart-shaped rocks for Caitlin’s memorial). It’s a reminder of why I want to create something more permanent than blog posts in the ether.

lucy letter

It will not be a story about anger and illness. It will be the story Caitlin wanted told: about light, love, and fierce positivity; about life and afterlife.

I am still figuring out the form it will take.

I told my wonderful friend Jane, in Pittsburgh, a beautiful writer, that I was doing this, and she responded:

Happiest thing in your letter: you’ll start the Caitlin book! This has to be done. This is going to be so wise, so beautiful, such an honoring of life, of soul, of friends, of motherhood, of grief, of CAITLIN. It is going to be a unique gift to the world. And to many many people who suffer terrible illness and loss, But really a gift for everyone. Mothers! Daughters! People who need Inspiration!

I have printed her words out and hung them over my desk, to keep me going.



Author: kittenupdates

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

12 thoughts on “SEPTEMBER 26 — The Caitlin Book”

  1. I have learned (and continue to learn) so much from you and Caitlin about the soothing, reflective power of words. Looking forward to the words you select and story you share with adoration for you both (and Nick too!).

  2. Yes, keep going! Your writing in this blog has already captured your experience and Caitlin’s voice in such a beautiful, compelling way. So many lives have been touched. Maryanne, you have so much talent, insight, and skilI–I can’t wait to hear about your process in finding what shape this story will eventually take. Let’s talk writing, and life, soon.

  3. Maryanne, you are my inspiration. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of Caitlin. You are keeping her memory alive for all of us.

  4. I am so glad that you have started writing this book. It will be an inspiration to everyone who reads it because Caitlin was such a special person to those of us who knew her personally and those that knew her through your blog posts. Wherever I go I continue to look for heart shaped rocks but so far have not been successful. But I AM still looking. XOXO

  5. Writing this book will help you feel, and heal, and keep your beautiful girl near you. For so many reasons it is the right thing to do, and I think you will find, through your story, that lovely Caitlin will continue to touch many hearts.

  6. And if you can’t write the book sometimes, that’s okay too. Give yourself the gift of being human through all this. I love you and your words and hope it is healing for you but when /if it’s not, please be kind to yourself. You did everything you humanly and inhumanly could… Caitlin knows. Sending so much love. xxx

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