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Maryanne O'Hara with Lily King: Little Matches
Maryanne O'Hara discusses her memoir, in conversation with novelist Lily King.
When their only child was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis (CF) at the age of two, Maryanne O’Hara and her husband were told that Caitlin could live a long life or be dead in a matter of months. Thirty-one years later, Caitlin lost her battle with this devastating disease following an excruciating two-year wait on the transplant list and a last-minute race to locate a pair of healthy lungs.
The sudden spiral of events left Maryanne in an existential crisis, searching to find an answer to the eternal question: Why we are here? During her final years, Caitlin had become a source of wisdom and comfort for her mother—the partner with whom she shared a deep spiritual quest to understand what it meant to have a soul. After Caitlin’s passing, Maryanne began to notice signs—poignant, persistent synchronicities that seemed to lean toward proof of Caitlin’s enduring presence.
Weaving together a series of interconnected meditations with illuminating glimpses of life rendered via text messages, e-mails, and journal entries, Little Matches is a profound reflection on life and death, motherhood, the pain of chronic uncertainty, and finding inspiration in the unexpected sparks that light our way through the darkness.
Maryanne O’Hara is the author of the novel Cascade, which was the Boston Globe Book Club's inaugural pick, a finalist for the Massachusetts Book Award, and a People Book of the Week; and a story collection which was a finalist for the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction. She is the former associate fiction editor of the literary journal Ploughshares, has taught creative writing at Emerson College and Clark University, and has had her writing recognized by the artist grants programs of the Massachusetts Cultural Council and the St. Botolph Club Foundation. Little Matches is based on the 9LivesNotes blog she kept while her daughter, Caitlin, waited for a lung transplant. She is a Reiki master and was recently certified by the University of Vermont’s Larner College of Medicine as an end-of-life doula. She lives in Boston, Massachusetts. Find her at https://www.maryanneohara.com.
Lily King is the award-winning author of the novels The Pleasing Hour, The English Teacher, Father of the Rain, and Euphoria, one of the New York Times Book Review’s “10 Best Books of 2014,” finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and winner of the Kirkus Prize. She lives in Maine.