July 31 — A bomb in Paris triggered superstition, then acceptance of her situation. Words from Caitlin on her birthday 🌟

We are on Martha’s Vineyard, and today is Caitlin’s birthday. I’m reminded of another birthday of hers spent here, the year she turned 12. It was the terrible year of lung surgeries and months-long inpatient recoveries. But that summer, we received a two-week respite from the hospital, and the respite was spent here. Those weeks return to me in images that feel other-worldly, suspended in time, magical. Riding the Flying Horses carousel in Oak Bluffs, spending hours on State Beach reading The Stone Diaries, a book that would later become a lifelong favorite of Caitlin’s, buying boxes of Murdick’s Fudge. Hearing news of a bombing in Paris that shocked us and caused us to wonder whether life really did unfold for a reason.

Caitlin wrote about that year and its Paris connection in an essay when she was a college sophomore. I’ll let her take over:

Continue reading “July 31 — A bomb in Paris triggered superstition, then acceptance of her situation. Words from Caitlin on her birthday 🌟”

July 19 – Look back and pick out one thing

Jess and I were looking through old writings to find one of Caitlin’s wise nuggets for a quote on a wall mural she’s creating in Kenya. I found this in an old email she wrote to me. It’s a good practice, and thought I’d share: “I always look back on each year and pick out one thing I learned.  Being able to self-reflect and change yourself…what a cool quality.”

Encouraging self-reflection is a big part of the talks that I give. Recently, I’ve had the chance to do some speaking in person, as opposed to Zoom events where I cannot see or sense the audience. The experience of seeing real people, and interacting with them, has been incredibly meaningful. Powerful. Virtual is handy, though, and I will be doing one more Zoom event this summer – tomorrow, Wednesday, July 20 at 7pm ET.

-> Click here to register <–

Continue reading “July 19 – Look back and pick out one thing”

March 15 – only Now ֎

Recently, I had the uncanny experience of sending a friend of Caitlin’s a rare gift – a baby present that Caitlin had purchased in Bruges in 2011, in the event that this friend ever had a little boy. Mieke recently gave birth to a son and what a pleasure, to send that tiny Dutch knitted hat.

I’ve also found a few letters Caitlin addressed but never mailed, and to stamp and send them was like watching my hand reach through the veil.

Continue reading “March 15 – only Now ֎”

July 16 – Magic Caitlin

It’s a wondrous thing to create a child, send her out into the world, and see what happens. Caitlin’s life influenced many others and over the years, especially the last few, it’s been heartening to learn how. One friend from her high school days is an artist and a few months ago, told me she had begun working on a painting of Caitlin.

Kat David is humble. Last weekend she sent me the painting. “I hope you like it,” she wrote. Like it? It’s magnificent. I was so enthralled that I decided it needed an unveiling, so this post is the official unveiling of MAGIC CAITLIN.

Magic Caitlin by KAT DAVID

Kat wrote: I am so glad you like it ❣️ The dandelion is supposed to be how her energy traveled and impacted so many people. The animals staring directly at the viewer are meant to convey some of her intensity. I tried to hide stuff throughout. The hearts were for your husband and his creative work and the book was how you and she share a love of writing and deeper meaning. I’m often reluctant to tell people what something I make means since I want people to see what is significant for them, like I want it to be subjective to the viewer. But in this case, I want you two to know there was deliberate meaning. Your family has magic so I wanted that to be shown. The book – the hearts and Caitlin are connected through touch and contact.

I had to ask Kat to please sign it (! – I said she was humble) and I also asked how she did it, because I knew people would be curious. She writes: Yes, it’s a digital painting. I made it using the procreate app on iPad. I use mostly oil painting brush packs and pastels. Some pencil brush packs.

To see more of her amazing work captured in-process, click here: Drawing a Shiny Pitcher


In other news, the amazing Jess is home taking the Global Health Delivery Intensive program at Harvard’s school of public health, and then scoots back to Kenya where she is overseeing the drilling of a borehole to provide the Nanyuki community with fresh water, and to begin construction on The Caitlin O’Hara Community Health Clinic.

Katie is home from Spain for the summer. Her translation career is exploding and her newest, a gorgeous novel by Javier Serena about a fictionalized Roberto Bolaño–esque writer, just received a Publisher’s Weekly starred review. The book is LAST WORDS ON EARTH, coming in September from OPEN LETTER Books.

Sinead got married yesterday and I’m heartbroken we had to cancel our trip but the quarantine rules are still strict – 12 days in a state-mandated fleabag hotel. I won’t publish any photos because I’m sure she wants to be first. Follow her on Instagram: sineaddehora

I saw Andrew in Maine a few weeks ago and it was a wonderful visit.

Medicine Needs Memoir – Our first talk is open to the public and is – surprise – on Caitlin’s birthday. Saturday, July 31 at 5:30ET

With Diane Shader Smith, speaking on behalf of her daughter Mallory Smith, author of SALT IN MY SOUL: An Unfinished Life, and David Weill, MD, author of EXHALE: Hope, Healing, and a Life in Transplant.

Anyone can attend. Click here to sign up: Register


I’ve been getting a lot of wonderful notes from people and they come as instant messages, direct messages on all different platforms, and emails (I have way too many email addresses) – I’ve tried to respond to all but I fear I’ve missed some. My apologies if I have. Getting feedback means the world to me. I’m grateful for every word.


My writer friends and I laugh about the fact that the general public seems to think that once a book is published, it’s a bestseller. I can assure you this is not true. If you’ve been meaning to order LITTLE MATCHES or gift a copy to someone, please be my guest. This book can have a long life but we live in a noisy world and this book needs word-of-mouth. THANK YOU.

MAY 3 – One spark at a time

I asked some of Caitlin’s friends if they would want to write up a little something that I could put on my website. Here, Kenley describes Caitlin as only a lifelong best friend from childhood can.

Someone recently asked me how I thought Caitlin might feel about Little Matches being out in the world. I know how she would feel. Her face on a few thousand book covers? Her picture in a few million copies of People Magazine? The girl who wore short skirts to chapel would love all that, for sure. Even more, the soulful Caitlin would love the fact that I’m hearing from people who’ve “stayed up all night reading it” and who are feeling comforted and better about life because of it. It is my dearest wish that Little Matches will inspire readers to think deeply about life and purpose and what’s really important at the end of the day, and it seems it is doing just that.

Hundreds of new books flood this noisy world every Tuesday and Little Matches has been out for two weeks now. People Magazine is wonderful and I’m grateful for it, but a new issue will replace it any day. I REALLY need to spread the word about this book, so I’d be incredibly grateful if everyone who reads this post shared it with at least one other person who might benefit from reading Little Matches.

Events are still virtual and I’m happy to be able to do them, but it is strange to have no idea who is out there, and then to be sitting alone at my desk when they are done. Thanks to all who’ve tuned in so far, and let me know that they did. I will be talking with Jessica Keener at Belmont Books on Thursday night at 7pmET. Click right here to register and join us.

Here are the links to current articles – People mag, TIME mag, and LitHub

People Magazine Book of the Week, May 3, is Little Matches

TIME Magazine article I wrote about legacy work

The Salvific Power of Writing Through Terrible Grief – written by me for LitHub



No donation is too small to help Jess build The Caitlin O’Hara Community Health Clinic in Kenya. She now has 501c3 status and has partnered with Build Health International to design the clinic. She has purchased land adjacent to the current community resource center, conducted topography reports and structural engineering assessments and will break ground this month. Boston Children’s Hospital, Brigham & Women’s Hospital and Harvard have signed on as strategic partners.

As a thank-you,I would love to send a bookplate that is signed by me and stamped with Caitlin’s “kitten” signature to anyone who would like to make a donation to this incredibly worthy cause. (You can email me at maryanneharaAuthor@gmail.com)


The archival quality bookplate – goes anywhere you like inside the book

April 20 – Little matches 🔥

Hello to every wonderful human who has been with me here since December, 2016.

Your support sustained me, and encouraged me to write LITTLE MATCHES. And now… it is here. It is my greatest wish that it will inspire every reader to think deeply about life, and purpose, and about what’s really important at the end of the day.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to all who will read it, gift it, and celebrate it. With this book, Caitlin gets all of her 9 lives. ❤️

And can I just say….? That Little Matches is one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever held in my hands. Truly. The cover imagery glows and reflects light.

You are more than welcome to share this email, and news of LITTLE MATCHES, far and wide…. THANK YOU.

Little Matches, reflecting the light that was Caitlin

When you open your hardcover, you will see this beautiful montage.

Pic by Winky Lewis


After tomorrow night’s virtual Brookline Booksmith event, I will go to the store to sign and personalize books purchased through the event. In addition to my signature, I’ve had a stamp made of Caitlin’s tongue-in-cheek Kitten scribble signature.

Signed and stamped

I’m also planning to sign books at other local stores, and will be doing more local events at Belmont Books (MA), PRINT (Portland, ME), and Titcomb’s (Cape Cod). You can check my appearances calendar for more information. Events are being added all the time. Maryanne’s LITTLE MATCHES TALKS


The virtual launch is tomorrow night. I do so hope that some of your faces will be out there, even if I can’t see them. As I mentioned in my last post, I would love it if attending guests would light a little candle in honor of Caitlin, their own loved ones, themselves–anyone who needs some honoring.

I will be in conversation with the brilliant and engaging Lily King.

You can sign up for free here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/maryanne-ohara-with-lily-king-little-matches-tickets-141989493397

Brookline Booksmith- grief and optimism

TIME Magazine just published this essay I wrote about the value and beauty of legacy work — people’s stories.

I will be offering a few virtual legacy workshops at the end of May. Details will be available on my website.

“I want to reassure you I don’t take myself too seriously. I do take life seriously though, I’ll be honest … because it’s a seriously wild business.

—Caitlin O’Hara


JESS is delighted to announce that The Leo Project has partnered with Build Health International to design The Caitlin O’Hara Community Health Clinic. Below is the finalized rendering of the clinic which will be situated adjacent to the existing Resource Center. They have purchased additional land, conducted topography reports and structural engineering assessments and, later this month, they are slated to break ground. Boston Children’s Hospital, Brigham & Women’s Hospital and Harvard have signed on as strategic partners. 

Secondly, The Leo Project has achieved 501c3 status! They applied last May and finally received IRS approval. Tax-deductible donations can now be made directly to The Leo Project. 

The Caitlin O’Hara Community Health Clinic

Love to you all !

DECEMBER 20 — 2020202020202020

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:

Photo by Laura Lewis

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

The Forgiveness, Love, and Kindness Trail


ANDREW is doing really well and we’re going to distance-see him this coming week.


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. ❤️

Announcing the Caitlin Book

I am as delighted as I possibly can be to announce that HarperOne will be publishing my memoir, the “Caitlin book,” otherwise known as LITTLE MATCHES, in April of 2021.

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I began writing this book a little over two years ago with much encouragement from readers of this blog. Thank you. And thanks to everyone in my daily life, especially Nick, for the constant support and encouragement.

The past few years have not been easy. But with this book, our kitten gets to live a bit longer.


In the coming months, I will be sharing photos, book news, and tidbits of inspiration. To be part of that,

Follow me on Instagram:  @maryanneohara

Follow this blog by clicking +Follow, down to the right, and entering your email address.

Follow me on FacebookMaryanne O’Hara, Author

Write to me at: MaryanneOHaraAuthor@gmail.com


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“I always pull back and picture myself in time and in space geographically. It makes me removed enough to ultimately feel that there is not much I can do to change the shifts of the world, but also inspired enough to think – what is my role in this lifetime?”  



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SEPTEMBER 18 — ✨Signs✨


Over the course of writing my book these past two years, I asked the question that a lot of grieving people ask: “Does consciousness survive death?”  It’s a question with no definitive answers, but what has really stood out to me is just how much research has been done by people of science.

One book that impressed me was “Surviving Death,” by investigative journalist Leslie Kean, a book that is dense with in-depth examinations of claims of various phenomena and includes 400 end-notes. Leslie also wrote the New York Times bestseller, “UFOs: Generals, Pilots, and Government Officials Go on the Record.” (Earlier this summer, you might have read that New York Times story about navy pilots and their observations of flying phenomena they could not identify. Leslie was one of the co-authors of the article.)

This past summer, I was working on final revisions of my book. One late night in June, I sent a little prayer into the universe before I closed my eyes. “Caitlin/ guides/ whoever” I said, “if you’re really out there, please send me a sign that I’m on the right path with this book.”

In the morning, I checked my email and this was the first thing I saw.


I didn’t remember signing up to receive notifications from Laura Lynne Jackson, and had never before received one, but I knew who she was–a certified, highly respected medium who is so in-demand that she closed her waiting list once it became years long.

I’d read Laura Lynne’s first book, an autobiography called “The Light Between Us,” and found it to be well-written, intelligent, enlightening, and comforting. Now she had a new book out called “Signs.”

I went down an internet rabbit hole that week, and saw that both Leslie and Laura were going to be part of a panel exploring the science of consciousness and the afterlife at the Omega Institute in upstate NY in September.

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The panel piqued my interest. It would include two scientists I’d read about: Julie Beischel, Ph.D, and Mark Boccuzzi–a husband-and-wife team who run The Windbridge Research Center in Tucson.

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When I eventually publish my Caitlin book and speak to its many themes, one topic I want to address is the current state of research in the field of after-death studies.

So I registered for the three-day Omega conference, which occurred over this past weekend.

Friday was a gorgeous late summer day and I really didn’t feel like leaving home. I’d recently been to some very disappointing events, and I really hoped this was going to be worth my time. As I drove west on the turnpike, I decided to talk to the universe again. “I really want this panel to be useful,” I said. “I want it to help me be able to spread some of the messages in my book. Spirit guides, Caitlin–if you’re really out there, please be in Rhinebeck with me.”

After a little while, I saw that a ten-wheeler up ahead of me had a big image of a bear on it. As I passed it, I saw that it was a logo for a company called Brown Bear Moving Company, which I’d never heard of.

Huh, I thought. I’d once been told my spirit animal was a brown bear and even though I have no idea if spirit animals really exist, the idea of the bear always felt right. Caitlin had even needle-felted me a little brown bear in 2014, who sits, always, on my desk. I am looking at him as I write. He’s my little mascot.


About an hour later, I pulled into a rest stop out in western Mass. When I came outside, I stopped short. The truck was parked, long-ways, right in front of my eyes.

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Okay… Maybe it was a sign, a good one.

When I arrived at Omega, I parked my little car which I call my snazzmobile, and which looked ridiculously snazzy in that rustic environment. I also had an embarrassing amount of luggage for two nights (But it was supposed to rain on Saturday! And my cabin was in the woods and would probably get cold at night! And I am currently taking a class and might have needed my computer and books! And I’d read that their linens left a lot to be desired so I’d hauled my own!)

I checked in and made my way to my little cabin, past smiling, relaxed, natural-looking folk. A young woman with flowers in her hair and around her neck. A man on a porch playing a guitar and singing.

I felt out of place and texted a friend. “I don’t fit in anywhere,” I wrote.

She wrote back: “You don’t have to!”

So simple, but revelatory. I don’t have to fit into any neat slot. I never have.

✨ The Panel

LLJ, Leslie Kean, Dr. Beischel, Mark Boccuzzi

The panel met over three days and was as informative and well-run as I’d hoped it would be. Not one moment dragged. The Windbridge people talked about the challenges of working as scientists in a field that lacks regulation and about their efforts to run lab studies with repeatable results, to publish in peer-reviewed journals. They emphasized that their aim is to “reach the people who would approach through an intellectual door.”

They spoke of the complications of proving theories of consciousness–materialist, brain-focused versus non-local theories. They reviewed evidence for survival of consciousness obtained from remote viewing research. They pointed out that part of the problem of testing, which their experiments must account for, is the existence of psi capabilities (as in perhaps a medium is telepathically obtaining information from a living person or other source as opposed to from a discarnate).

What was clear is that many many people have experienced unexplainable phenomenons. “There is a whole suppressed world out there,” Dr. Beischel pointed out. “People with experiences they feel they can’t talk about.”

Leslie Kean spoke in detail about children with provable memories of former lives (which the University of Virginia has been studying for decades), after-death communication experiences, and mediumship readings.

Julie and Mark described how they developed a protocol to test mediums through a five-fold blind process.

And Laura Lynne Jackson was there. It was clear that since her newest book hit the New York Times bestseller list this summer, a lot of people were there for her. She explained that she rarely does group (gallery) readings, and only does three private readings a week, because for her, doing a reading is like taking the LSAT and running a 5K on the same day.  Mark pointed out that she would not be giving any private readings but at the end of the session on Saturday, she would do a gallery reading for one hour, and on Sunday would lead a guided meditation for all.

As far as mediums go, since Caitlin’s passing, in addition to the signs that come to me nearly every single day, to the point of comedy, I’ve had a couple of experiences with mediums that were powerful and remarkable (Karissa Eve D. & Sirry Berndsen). I also happen to have someone in my own family, Caitlin’s Irish cousin Sinead, who has clairsentient abilities and has exhibited them since she was a child. I am fortunate to be able to know, for sure, that such people exist, even if I can’t explain it.

I have also come to believe that, like all things human, some mediums are really really good at what they do. Others wish they were so good. And some don’t even try. They cheat. No question, there are frauds out there. There are people on YouTube who will gleefully explain how they have duped people. A recent New York Times article examined a teams of professional skeptics who debunk the fake psychics and mediums they call “grief vampires.”

But to date, two institutions in the United States have laid out protocols for blind-testing people who identify as psychic mediums: Windbridge and an organization called Forever Family Foundation, a non-profit organization “whose aim is to further the understanding of Afterlife Science through research and education while providing support and healing for people in grief.” From the Windbridge site:

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Laura Lynne Jackson is one of the few mediums on those lists. In fact, she’s on both lists. She has donated a lot of time to grieving families via the Forever Family Foundation.

My gut sense told me that Caitlin would never come through a group, gallery-style reading, for two reasons. 1) Caitlin was essentially pretty private  2) She would be all about letting someone who might be more in need get one.

Plus there were 80 people there and they all wanted a reading.

But as the weekend progressed, even though I knew it was unlikely that I would get a reading, I increasingly really wanted one. On Saturday it was raining and as I looked out at the leaves, dripping with dismal rain, I thought, Caitlin, you need to come through and validate this book for me. Just this once. After all, I’m grieving as much as anyone.

Saturday, 4pm, arrived. Time for the gallery reading. Laura Lynne began to speak. She is intelligent and very well-spoken, a former longtime high school English teacher who is comfortable and in control in front of a group, emitting an energy that is focused and warm at once.

First she spent about 15 minutes describing how she worked–explaining that she has no control over who comes through and that when she’s pulled in one direction, it’s not a mistake, it’s not meant for someone on the other side of the room. She emphasized that  if a person didn’t get a reading, it didn’t mean that his people didn’t love him, or weren’t there. She said we are all capable of communicating on our own, if we are open to it—she was adamant about that, and explained that she would share some techniques to do so the next day.

Finally she began, and did a very good reading for one attendee, which took about 15 minutes. Then she went to the very back of the room and spent another 15 minutes doing another powerful reading. Both were obviously very healing for the people involved.

It was now twenty minutes to the hour’s end and the idea of me getting a reading was now really a long shot.

But I did.

She turned and walked down the center aisle, her arms outstretched, hands clasped, fingers pointing in my direction. She said it was someone’s child, female, she was being shown a crab, that might mean Maryland?  I shrugged. It might have been me, it might have been the woman behind me who had also tentatively raised a hand. Then she said, “SpongeBob?” and I started to laugh. SpongeBob was a very big long-time joke between Caitlin and me, ever since we saw Bob l’eponge movie posters all over Paris in 2004.

Laura says she “sees” on screens inside her mind and although she was looking at me, her eyes were focused inward. Then she came around and stood in front of me.

We weren’t allowed to tape the gallery hour, for obvious privacy reasons, but two very kind strangers took notes for me during my reading.What they and others remarked on, later, was how Laura’s manner transformed, and in an astonishing way.

“Did that seem like your daughter?” one woman asked. “Because her whole manner changed!”

“I felt like I saw your daughter, like now I know what she was like, how wonderful she was,” another woman said.

Laura did seem to embody Caitlin. The feisty, funny, “okay, I’m here to take charge” Caitlin.  In fact, as Laura relayed information to me, she used the same mannerisms and way of speaking that the other medium, Karissa, uses when “Caitlin comes through.”

✨ ✨ ✨✨ ✨ ✨✨ ✨ ✨✨ ✨ ✨

✨ The Reading

Here are a few of the things Laura Lynne said:

She’s very very intelligent. Very high level. Classy. Impeccable manners. Very high level. And this is not bragging.

She has a deep appreciation for art.

She speaks 3 languages.

There’s someone with her… very old. A family member. An LN name? (I say that Caitlin’s grandmother Ellen, nicknamed Eileen, just passed in August.)

You’re brave. She’s watching you. You are challenging yourself to be open. You’re opening your heart and mind but you’re a critical thinker. You’re analyzing all this–she knows this medium thing is out of your realm.

She would not normally come through in a group like this. And she’s saying she does not need Laura to come through to you. She’s doing Laura a favor by coming through. (Laura laughs.) You can do this yourself yourself, you know. You’re a medium.

This will all be known. You will write about it. You’re here to get her message out.

You have a plan. Something will come from this. Something you’re working on.

You will be interviewed on TV. There’s more to come with this.

She’s interested in poetry, literature.

She has 2 degrees? (She had plans to study for a master’s, I say.)

Well she’s done it on the other side. We all have jobs on the other side.

She’s thanking you for taking care of her. She had an illness. A progression. Does this make sense?

I love you. This is not goodbye. Your soul taught her soul a lesson. (Laura’s eyes well up at this point, and she says she does not usually cry.) She did suffer at the end and you might ask why did she have to suffer? But at the end, she let go of her pain. There was beauty at the end. You taught her a lesson of unconditional love. And that took so much strength.

Okay, she’s saying she’s done now, and there’s someone she wants to thank.. a J name. And again, she is saying I’m lucky she came through.

At this point, Laura sort of strutted toward the podium. “And now she’s doing a mic drop.”

Laura mimicked the mic drop and everyone laughed.

✨ ✨ ✨✨ ✨ ✨✨ ✨ ✨✨ ✨ ✨

A funny thing is, I have an emoji Caitlin made of herself doing a mic drop. I even used it on this blog once.



That was really good. Felt good. It was now five o’clock and as I walked back to my cabin, talking to another woman, we encountered a groundhog. Right by our cabins. Not even budging when we got close. I started to laugh. “Groundhogs are very significant in our family,” I said. “I’ve never been so close to one. This must be a sign?”

The groundhog stayed right there, at our feet.


Later, I ran into Laura at the bookstore. I didn’t want to be one of those people who crowds her but I did say, in passing, “Thank you again, that was great.”

She said, “Can I give you a hug?” She hugged me and said, “Your daughter’s on a mission. She’s got big energy.”

That’s what I keep hearing.

✨ Notes:

There are 26 mediums listed on the Forever Family Foundation website. There are 17 on the Windbridge site.

Certification takes resources that are in short supply, and neither organization is currently testing mediums, so although not being certified does not mean that a medium is not legit, do your research if you book a reading somewhere.

You may be tempted to not use your real name (and I had suggested this in an earlier version of this post), but the good mediums recommend that you do use your real first name–no last name needed–because it can distract them when there’s a nagging sense that this has happened. Sinead has said this same thing–that she just needs a first name.

Also, be sure to use an email address that, while certainly can be non-identifiable, is one you check regularly so they can contact you if there’s a schedule change. That way, you can  keep the reading as blind as possible and help to allay your doubts or skepticism.

Also, Skyping and phone calls work as well, and often better, than real life. Laura Lynne says that she prefers to do readings on the phone with her eyes closed.

✨ Old emails from Caitlin:

8/13/2014 – Subject: Definitely worth the money 

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11/19/2014 – Subject: All I want for Christmas is this 

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Her scrapbook from that Paris trip:


AUGUST 1 — Birthday Days ❤️

When I was pregnant and my baby was due mid-summer, I wanted a July baby. July seemed to be a vibrant month: warm, lush, expectant! August seemed so enervating–I associated it with long, bored days of childhood, when all I seemed to do was lie about on stiff, dried-out grass, listening to the drone of insects and distant lawnmowers.

I spent every minute of July 30 in labor and when Caitlin was born an hour after midnight, I sang that old ditty to myself: “30 days hath September, June, July and November,” and thought, “Darn. August 1.”

It wasn’t until well into the afternoon, when a hospital administrator brought in the birth certificate, that I realized we were still inside of July and that I had my song and calendar all wrong.

I was delighted. It was like being given a gift. The gift of an extra day.

Forever after, for me, the days around July 31st swam together and became Caitlin’s birthday days.

This year, I spent much of the 30th organizing bookshelves and found a little gift inside a book from long ago. 

caitlin i love you


Yesterday, I felt pushed to write a post but I also felt too lethargic and sad and also happy to receive so many messages that made me smile. The birthday memories, at least, are all happy as opposed to that other anniversary which I will dread for the rest of my life.

Today seemed like the best day to do a post. So here I am.

As for updates, 

I know I said I finished the book months ago, and I did, but “finished” means I finished writing it, not revising and perfecting, which is quite necessary and something I’ve been doing all spring and summer. I am now getting to the end of the entire process, nearly two years after I made the decision to start.

I’m eager for you all to read it and hope you will find it engaging and uplifting.

Also, Nick and I want to thank everyone who came to the event we hosted on July 10 for Mallory Smith’s SALT IN MY SOUL: AN UNFINISHED LIFE.

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“Live Happy” Hour, in honor of Mallory Smith

Mallory’s mother, Diane Shader Smith, spoke with her trademark quiet intensity and passion about Mallory’s bright, positive spirit, and about her enduring legacy. Diane and her husband Mark say thank you to all who attended.

Maryanne, Diane

We sold out of the 120 books that Dick Haley, our Boston bookseller brought, and could have easily sold more.

Since the event, so many people have reached out to me to say how stunned they are by Mallory’s writing, and by the power of of her hard, beautiful story. It also provides insight, they say, into what life was like for us. I can attest to that..

Jess spoke too, about the progress she’s made with The Leo Project in Honor of Caitlin O’Hara, which the Smiths generously designated as the benefactor of their generosity that night.

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Jess Danforth, The Leo Project

Then it was on to the Vineyard…

On July 17, artist Kara Taylor and actress Amy Brenneman hosted a fundraiser for The Leo Project at Kara’s art gallery. It was a night of art and African drums and overwhelming island generosity.

Kara Taylor’s gorgeous island spot

Jess and her Leo Project film

Amy, Kara, Jess and that’s me off to the left.

Jess’s talks are emotional and inspiring. She makes it clear that her project is not just about her, or Caitlin, or even Africa.  The Leo Project is more universal than that. It is about love and life and friendship and finding what speaks to your soul and pursuing it. It is about honoring a beloved friend, and about bettering the life of even one person, if you can. The Leo Project is about every participant becoming a more purposeful human.

Thanks to all who honor Caitlin during her birthday days — with kindness, humor, generosity, wisdom, tolerance, empathy. ❤️

Kitten on Nantucket, a few years ago…

“I have always believed in goodness and I know a lot of people say that, but it does feel undeniably essential, and I don’t question it.”  –Caitlin, July 31, 1983