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Barry Crimmins

words to live near



In Remembrance of Caroline Knapp Thursday, June 6, 2002

In Remembrance of Caroline Knapp

Barry's remembrance of Caroline Knapp

A little over nine years ago I wrote a first-person account of surviving child abuse that was published in the Boston Phoenix. My normally adept editor took one look at my first draft and wisely called in another editor. Her name was Caroline Knapp. Caroline had written a landmark work about how she had come to acknowledge and deal with a nearly lethal eating disorder. Her experience made her the perfect choice for an unenviable task. She wisely, gently and calmly guided me through the most difficult piece of writing I have ever had to do. And then, long after her job was done, she followed up again and again to see how I was handling things after the piece was published.

I learned this morning the awful news that Caroline Knapp died on June 3 of lung cancer. She was 42. She accomplished so much in her short life that I'm sure our brief professional relationship was a mere blip on her screen. But it made a huge and lasting difference to me. I rarely get through any piece of writing without reflecting on the guidance she so graciously provided at that turning point in my life.

Caroline wasn't some pop psycho-babbling soft touch. She was as tough and hilarious as she was insightful and sensitive. She knew things wouldn't improve if people didn't come forward with thoughtful disclosures about their experiences. And she knew how to make such revelations fabulous reading. Her columns and books leave behind an effervescent memorial to a wonderful writer and generous soul. They do so way too soon.

My deepest sympathies go out to her husband Mark Morelli, her family and her dog Lucille (pictured with Caroline above), who co-starred with Caroline in her brilliant book: "Pack of Two: The Intricate Bond Between People and Dogs." The family asks in lieu of flowers that donations be made to the  American Cancer Society, 30 Speen St, Framingham, MA 01701 or to the Animal Rescue League of Boston, PO Box 265, Boston, MA 02117.

•- BC 6-6-'02