I’ll just say this: as bad as 2020 was, for us it was nothing compared to 2016.
I cannot believe it’s four years. Four. How? The knowledge makes my head spin like a small planet, like its moon — time moving inexorably forward forward forward yet tricking you with its revolutions, its constant circling back to the repetition of seasons and traditions. The older you get the more you realize a year is really nothing. So four of them isn’t much.
And yet it is.
Somehow, in these four years, I wrote LITTLE MATCHES and a team of wonderful people turned it into a thing that can exist in the world without me. This book is going to LOOK the beautiful way I envisioned, and I’m so happy to report that it is also going to have exquisite endpapers, a photographic tableau of objects and imagery that I put together and am excited to share. Here’s one heart-shattering, wonderful piece of it:
I feel so lucky.
Also, not lucky at all.
I think many of you, after making it through this year, understand what I mean. When I researched the 1918 pandemic for CASCADE, I realized that humans have to deal with big ones every hundred years or so, and that we were due. I waited for it to arrive, terrified for Caitlin. Turns out, she would have been well-equipped, in many ways, to deal with it. It’s clearly been harder for people who don’t normally have to worry about their health.
To everyone who experienced a truly terrible 2020, I feel your pain and sorrow and I am so so sorry.
The amazing JESS opened The Leo Project resource center in Kenya last January, and almost immediately, COVID required that the project temporarily pivot to meet the immediate needs of the community. They set up hand washing stations, made face masks, distributed emergency food supplies, set up an e-learning portal, and distributed sanitary pads and reproductive health materials.
The Leo Project’s next undertaking is The Caitlin O’Hara Community Health Center, created in response to urgent community need. The clinic will sit adjacent to the Resource Center and will focus on maternal and child care, reproductive health, and mental health services.
Jess has assembled an advisory board compiled of doctors from around the world and is working in partnership with the Ministry of Health in Kenya. Boston-based Build Health International is overseeing plan and design. She has just started her fundraising efforts to bring these critical services to the community. Big donations are always welcome, of course, yet so are the smallest. She now has 501C status and can use a fundraising platform that allows people to make monthly gifts, however small. 100 percent of every donation goes directly to Leo Project programs.
NICK is healthy and busy. He’s got 11 acres behind his building and spent this past spring and summer having his men begin to build a trail he calls THE FORGIVENESS, LOVE, AND KINDNESS trail. It meanders through the woods, along a babbling brook, for a good five minutes each way He has installed the MY HEART HURTS stones there, as well as some other stone wonders and an entrance that requires you to step up through an arch, and then down onto the path. Magical and it’s far from completed. You can check out the work he does in everyday life, all of it creative, permanent, and beautiful, at oharacompany.com
ANDREW is doing really well and we’re going to distance-see him this coming week.
BOOK TRAILER VIDEO
My wonderful brother Michael Bavaro always helps me with the film/drawing side of things. He created a short book trailer video for LITTLE MATCHES which you can watch here:
I miss Caitlin so much. The last few days, my eyes have been a faucet. We’ve rented an apartment in Maine for a week, a place she loved and where she likely would have settled. I keep walking past the bedroom I know she would have chosen and I can almost see her in there, all her stuff strewn about. I can hear my exasperated self saying, “Can’t you please keep this place tidy?” And her response: “Oh, Mom just shut the door.” Makes me laugh and cry at once.
That complicated reality is a reflection of why my memoir has the perfect sub-title. Grief AND Light. I can thank my editor for that one. Life’s not all good but it surely is not bad.
Please pre-order LITTLE MATCHES. Please tell people about it. Please support The Caitlin O’Hara Community Health Center and The Leo Project. My dearest wish is that someone with a big philanthropic heart and pockets will read LM and be inspired to be an ‘angel’ to Jess and the project.
Here’s to light ahead. It’s coming….. Tomorrow is the winter solstice. It’s also the “Great Conjunction” of Saturn and Jupiter, when they will be so close in the sky that they may appear to be a single bright star to some. Look for them an hour after sunset tonight and for the next few days, over the southwest. They last appeared to be this close together to earthlings on July 16, 1623. How wonderful is that, to think about?
I will leave you with these words from Caitlin’s Christmas post of 2015:PS, Live update: Big flock of birds settling in the tree outside our window here in Portland. And a cardinal just flew right up to a branch near my window. ❤️