In Memoriam

Caitlin Wright Binning

June 29, 1966 - July 25, 2003

My Cousin Caitlin

It was very symbolic and as it turned out, very meaningful to me the manner in which I learned of my cousin Caitlin's passing on and I would like to share that with you.

My son Shane and I were backpacking in the wilderness of the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York this past weekend. On Saturday, we had climbed to the summit of Basin Mt. and were about 10 miles from the nearest civilization, the only ones on the mountain. It was a lovely day, warm, sunny and breezy.

As we were sitting on top of this peak enjoying the views and eating some snacks, Shane decided to try a call to his mother on the cell phone. The mountain tops are about the only places in that region where one can get cell reception. Well, we did in fact get a call through and that is when we learned the news of our dear cousin.

It was of course a shock and I was deeply saddened. However, my spirit was quickly lifted as I prayed, meditated and simply thought about Caitlin. I had a very real awareness of Caitlin's spirit. I believe that being high in the mountains and in peaceful surroundings played a part in my ability to commune with her, but I also believe Caitlin was intentionally there for me and I for her. I truly felt that Caitlin was near to me and that was very comforting to me.

Throughout the rest of the day, up and over two more mountain tops, I thought of Caitlin constantly, prayed to her and for her, and meditated on her. There were times when I felt a true sense of commune with Caitlin, as though we were talking to one another through our spirits. I had the sense that Caitlin was at peace, free like the mild breeze blowing though our hair. And I felt very good about that.

Caitlin had many qualities I admired, honesty, a sense of humor, a peaceful spirit, compassion, and others. Although I could go on at length regarding these qualities, it is compassion I wish to speak of now.

It may an occupational hazard or a hazard of our times and society, but I find myself at times becoming desensitized to others around me, especially those less fortunate than myself. It is through Caitlin's example, in part, that I found inspiration and a sense of renewal to keep that compassion alive. Caitlin truly walked the walk. Her commitment to, and compassion for, the mentally ill will always serve as a remarkable example of the type of person our Higher Power desires us to be. Not only did Caitlin have this level of compassion in her life here but she also passed it on to others, myself included. And for that I am eternally grateful.

As Caitlin would say, peace and love to all of you, especially to MY COUSIN CAITLIN.

Daniel B. Larkin