For more than thirty years, Cindy has written as a columnist and blogger, sharing insights on life, community, and family. In 2020, she entered the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Nonfiction at the University of King’s College to develop her first book, Short-Lived. She was emboldened on her journey by mentors who told her that her project was “powerful” and “well-crafted” and that it “exceeded already-high expectations.”
While working with guides and mentors, Cindy drew out the universality of the meaning and themes in her story — a story of impossible tragedy and improbable joy in an ordinary family.
Cindy has also worked for many years in the management group of Lion’s Roar, the world’s leading English-language Buddhist magazine. She was a member of the Halifax Regional School Board from 2012 until it was summarily disbanded by the government of the day in 2018.
From Cindy Littlefair, a new voice in the tradition of meaning-finding through words, curiosity, and her own life of death, comes Short-Lived.
In the Littlefair family, all it took to qualify as a rebel child was curiosity. And staying alive. The rest was gravy. By the time Cindy was 12, four of her five siblings were dead. It wasn’t all bad but even when it was good it was troubling.
In retrospect, Cindy knew by age five that something was up. Her family was different from other families, she could feel it. She found photos in the attic of a girl her age, identical in look, who was otherwise nowhere in evidence. Where had she gone? Cindy had a brother. One day he was sharing his secret stash of chocolate cookies and the next he was gone. Forever. Another brother treated Cindy badly enough that his death brought her only relief, no grief. And the fourth, a baby, was small enough almost to escape undetected but now that Cindy knew this was the family’s preference she refused to let his memory go.
By the time she’s 12, Cindy knows she’s had five siblings. Only one remains. She hates that her family is so weird, hates that they die when dying isn’t what normal families do, and blames it on god. It’s all his fault. She shorts him his capital Gs and Hs in the poetry that becomes her outlet. She also wonders whether death is a trend and if so whether she’s next. She spends her adolescence sinking into despair with the general unknowing. School. Boyfriends. Work. Travel. None of them matter. Everyone’s going to die, she thinks. She knows this beyond refute. It makes her less afraid of death than of living. Living’s the tricky part.
Her parents are no help. They’re at sea with their own emotions. They lavish her with love and show her a life of joy, the family as rich in warmth and humour as it is tragedy and denial, but the ignoring is knee-deep. The bodies have piled up around them. If Cindy’s going to get anywhere with her own life-palsying confusion, she needs to dig in, even if she does so alone.
Cindy feels her way forward, up and out, uncertainty notwithstanding. She’s a true “Wednesday’s child,” a mess of inherited woe, a “sobersides,” her mother’s word, but she knows there’s no way around it. She has to go through it. She has to indulge her curiosity and find the silk purse that is the Littlefair sow’s ear.
Find Cindy on Twitter, @cindylittlefair, or via email, cindymlittlefair at gmail.
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