On New Year’s Day 10 years ago, I woke up to a text from Caitlin.
She was still living independently and rarely talked about long-term survival, but transplant was looming. Transplant was on her mind, and it showed in that confession of uncertainty tucked inside the bigger message of optimism and love.
She did see that blue moon, in Pittsburgh five years later. I write about it in LITTLE MATCHES:
We watched it on her birthday, from our window high on the 15th floor, and here it is, still existing inside my phone: the full moon shining through a band of bright clouds, the lights of Mount Washington reflecting in the black Monongahela River below. Caitlin stood in front of me and the feeling then was like the feeling now, like I am existing inside multiple dimensions as I recall how I recalled that 2010 text and our first, frightened trip to the city where we had come to find ourselves trapped inside time, waiting.
Time. I’ve always had a complicated relationship with it. It’s always hurting my head. I’m the kind of person who constantly thinks, “One week ago, __ happened,” or, “Exactly two years ago on this day, we were ___ ” or “How can it be ___ since _____, when it feels like maybe 3 weeks ago at the most???”
I cannot believe it is 2020. That it was five whole years ago that we had just moved to Pittsburgh and were saying to ourselves, “In five years, this will all be long over…”
I amused myself yesterday by making some illustrations of how muddled and partially erased the last decade feels.
At Christmas that first year in Pittsburgh, I put a small rubber ball, printed with the map of the world, in Caitlin’s stocking.
“After transplant, the world will be yours,” I said.
She dared to hope for the freedom to travel easily, to go to Africa with Jess. Jess is there now, officially opening the doors of THE LEO PROJECT IN HONOR OF CAITLIN O’HARA on January 17th. She’s got a bunch of friends with her, to celebrate her incredible accomplishment. I don’t think her friend Perry Tyler will mind if I share a couple of her stunning photos. I’d ask, but they are all climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro as I write…
The world is so big and beautiful. What do the next ten years hold for you?
For me, with LITTLE MATCHES coming out about a year from now, I almost feel like, “my work here is done.” But I will spend the coming months preparing for publication and planning how I will talk to audiences about the many topics the book speaks to.
I can’t wait.