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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. ❤️
“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