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Windsor school to feature exhibit of ailing pre-teen's art

  • Kaitlyn Heflin gets a hug from her mother, Liz, while working on a drawing at their home in Windsor, on Friday, September 13, 2013. Kaitlyn, who has a complex seizure disorder, is holding an art show on September 25 to thank emergency workers, doctors and the community for their support. (Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat)

The "About the Author" section that appears at the back of the small book by Kaitlyn Heflin touches on all the constants of her life: her mom, brother Kai, her doctors, the seizures, the feeding tubes that sustain her.

The doctors help her, she wrote. They're best when they're funny. She loves making art, designing dresses and playing guitar. Her mom and Kai make her feel better.

"My life," wrote the author of the book of colorful artwork and written observations about the world, "is super great."

Kaitlyn Heflin's Artwork

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It is, perhaps, a testament to how long Kaitlyn's life has been shaped and controlled by the seizure disorder that sets her apart from other 12-year-olds that she's able to muse so glowingly about her good fortune without irony.

But there's also a purity in Kaitlyn's love of family and friends, in her appreciation of what's beautiful about the world, that suggests no one could have taught her to look on the bright side — that it's just who she is.

"That's how she talks," said her mother, Liz Heflin, 33. "She's just always trying to make things better."

Kaitlyn injects all that enthusiasm into her brightly inked artwork that is a source of both solace and joy — a useful distraction when there's pain in her stomach or she feels sick, and a means of expressing delight and gratitude about life.

"It's fun, and it makes me forget about the things that I worry about," Kaitlyn said, seated on the family couch, a furry brown blanket draped across her alarmingly thin frame and a stuffed dog named Prince nearby. "When I draw a picture, I feel good and better."

She's especially prolific these days because of a subtle stabilizing of her condition that allows her to have longer periods of being awake and alert.

But she's also expanding her portfolio for a special event Wednesday planned by her mom and a handful of friends who have arranged for her to have an art exhibit in the gym at Mattie Washburn Elementary in Windsor, where she started school.


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