That last autumn, Caitlin binged on a cooking show she’d discovered. She usually watched while I cooked dinner, and since the kitchen overlooked the living area of our Pittsburgh condo, I became vaguely aware of a big tent inside of which a bunch of regular-looking people turned out regular-looking pies and biscuits. One day I took a closer look as Caitlin applauded the winner. The winning cake looked so….ordinary.
“I don’t get it?” I said.
The show was WONDERFUL, Caitlin explained. It was cozy, it was comforting. The contestants were all supportive of each other, and she loved how the camera would sometimes pan outside the tent to take in the bucolic setting, how the lens would pause upon some calming thing: a bird, a flower, rain dripping from leaves.
An autumn later, I was back home. I was alive and she was not. When we turned back the clocks, I embraced the early, dark nights. They were a good excuse to burrow, to avoid, to give in to falling onto the sofa. Late one afternoon I turned on Netflix and there it was, Caitlin’s baking show. A new season had begun. I began to watch it, expecting it would make me cry the way everything made me cry. But for some reason, I was, instead, able to vividly imagine that Caitlin was right beside me, watching it, too. It felt so real, and joyful.
I cherished every available episode that year, and in the autumns that followed.
The new season started a few weeks ago, with episodes dropping every Friday. I’ve been so busy I’ve barely had time to watch, but this past week, I struggled with motivation and found myself craving Friday’s show as if it were some kind of lifeline. Every activity I normally don’t find difficult — writing, exercise, meditation, eating right — felt pointless. A friend pointed out that I was inside “the anniversary season,” that I shouldn’t be hard on myself.
Friday night, I turned on the new episode but immediately had to pause it when I erupted in tears. I realized it had been six (6!) years since I had cooked in our Pittsburgh kitchen, that there are now six whole seasons Caitlin never got to watch.
In Little Matches, I had written, I do not want to live in a world where Caitlin recedes into the past, a world where she died twenty years ago. Yet that was precisely what was happening.
I surrendered to the miserable fact of that and had a good, cleansing cry. After I calmed down, I picked up the remote to restart the show and that’s when I saw how it had paused. 💫
In – Person Legacy Workshop
In one of the talks I give, I share the story of how I came to realize the power and value of synchronicities, and how they can help us find purpose and meaning in the everyday moments that shape our lives and our legacies. I then offer people tips on how to conduct a legacy interview with their loved ones or even with themselves. Life interviews are an opportunity for people to reflect on their lives and shape their life stories, regardless of age or current health. They also make for a meaningful family activity or gift for the holidays.
I’m excited to be doing this next one in person at the wonderful Newtonville Books on Sunday, October 23 at 3pm. All are welcome to come. Bring a pen and paper, and also a mask to wear.
— Maryanne xx