Nashville or Bust

The trip that started a longer journey

Twisted Santa

Brandon is finally home so tonight we were able to finish our gift exchange for the holiday. After the flurry of paper, there stood one last box. It was from Santa. The note simply said: “When the three of you are finally together, gather around the final box and open it. You’ll have to work with it a but the surprise will ultimately be revealed.”


As Brandon aptly put it, “Son of a Nutcracker.”

Out spilled 256 puzzle pieces. The table was cleared and the three got to work.

For close to an hour, they twisted and turned pieces, wiggling them into place without any sort of guide. The grumbles were priceless. We tried hard not to laugh or help. Do you know how much fun it is to watch people work a puzzle without any sort of prompt? For once, some assembly required was all in their court. Oh, the JOY!



The picture finally came into focus and their expressions: priceless.


This summer, we’re off to the Pigeon River to do something we’ve never done before. We can hardly wait. TOWANDA! ~ Jacqui




December 26, 2015 Posted by | Everyday | 4 Comments

Waking Up to What is Here


I’m not sure why this holiday season has been so hard for me.

Well, maybe I do, but I just don’t want to admit it.

With so much to be grateful for, so much to be happy about, I entered the holiday season at some point in November with dread, anxiety, depression and numbness. Work was way too much and it kept compounding as the year got shorter. It provided a nice way for me to hide some of this. There was no time for me to get into the merry bustle when it seemed like the last quarter of the year was a constant battle of slaying dragons…and the dragons most times were winning. So I got lost in it and that made me sad. It was an ugly cycle. I know that sadness dripped over to the family. Hard to reconcile.

Dave’s most recent post was a call to release and turn this blog back to whatever it is supposed to be. I grin as I write that statement because, well, this is a rambling little place that is more cathartic than thematic.

And before I go there — to that other place of supposed to be — I think I have one last post to write about what was these past few months. Maybe by getting it down I get it out. And then, I can turn things around and journey into the new.

During this past year, I realized I begun to question how we as humans envelop ourselves in faith and in particular, of the religious variety. Very hard to say when so many of our friends and families sent up beautiful prayers on our behalf. Harder still when so many voiced that as our family news turned from uncertain to celebratory, these prayers had been answered. I admired this  faith — the conviction. But it was hard to return that feeling.  What was I missing? The prayers that were sent up for us were answered. But the prayers that were sent up for three other spouses that sat beside me in the cancer boat were not. They lost their loved ones. I didn’t. Harmony and discord. Gratitude and guilt.

As the days turned into holidays which are rooted in so many different flavors of faith, and ugly clashes and world events invaded our every conversation, I felt like I was in a hall of mirrors with the floor falling away. So many reflections and none of them seemed right to me anymore. Foundations of what I thought I believed in were slipping. As scary as these feelings were — and are — they carried a calming effect. The nothingness provided one less thing for me to worry about. Or perhaps…

Faith. Per the Google it is described as “confidence or trust in a person or thing; or the observance of an obligation from loyalty; or fidelity to a person, promise, engagement; or a belief not based on proof; or it may refer to a particular system of religious belief.”

I just don’t know. I believe in the promises I’ve made to Dave and the kids and I realize that I have room to demonstrate those promises more — not out of obligation but out of want. They make me whole and that feels right. I’ve got that faith and fidelity. Beyond that, it gets a little fuzzy.

I believe that there are things that happen that we just can’t explain, both good and bad. I believe that we surround ourselves with people who buoy us and we in turn buoy them. I’ve always believed in angels on earth and spirits that guide. But are these things due to the intercession of a deity or just plain human interaction and intuition? Am I wrong for casting away so much of the communal aspect of faith and making my world small? Is my question of faith a form of fear — of getting caught up in something that is so much bigger than myself that I lose myself to mob mantra — or is it a declaration of self-assurance — that in order to get by I just need to keep my immediate, tangible world in focus and deal with the outcomes as they may be?

I woke up this morning to quiet and for once I didn’t feel the weight of the days. I didn’t need to go to work. I didn’t need to do much of anything because Dave and the kids tackled the majority of preparations for this weekend. I succumbed to the head cold that I held off for the past week and wandered out to the tree to stare at it for a good long spell. Thus the space to think.

As I gazed on the tree that is a history of our family, friendships and love of the past 25+ years, I couldn’t help but think of this song. Not a traditional carol but an awareness of where I am now. And I think that this is okay because I also believe that we should ask questions and find the spaces of understanding among ourselves and each other… even when we feel that we are too busy to try or too staunch in our own convictions to comprehend another perspective.

I appreciate this morning’s dark for helping me think and feel but I don’t want to be captive to its seduction and completely slip away. Amid this uncertainty, this season, this now– I’m yearning for light and love for those close to me as well as all of humanity. People need peace and security. It’s a big wish that I have and I can be part of making it true by being present for those I love. And while together we are celebrating this season, I am having a hard time saying ‘Christmas’ this year because the word has become so polarizing in both the big and little spaces of my life. This is a first for me and maybe by admitting it, I can release some of the anxiety and dread that has enveloped me of late.~ Jacqui



December 24, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Day +100: A Post from Dave

Screen shot 2015-12-18 at 6.40.45 AMIt’s been awhile. Actually it’s been 106 days since I posted here. It was day -6 and I was just settling into my hospital room and the idea of this treatment and transplant when I fell asleep listening to music. I sit today, well on the other end of the teeter-totter, and while the memory of how I got here is still present, much of the hospital stay and immediate aftermath is a blur. The view from my “rear view mirror” is pleasantly hazy.

Today marks day +100 for me in this new version of DK2.0. While I am aware of this, I am happier to have Brandon coming home for his birthday on this day than I am eager to examine my progress up to this milestone. Christmas will be here soon and the start of a new year (which I am really ready to welcome in) and I’m more interested in the events, family gatherings, music recitals and such than I am of what this milestone represents. The simple truth is that for reasons beyond my full understanding, I feel really great and am truly grateful. With the rear view a blur, I am focusing on what is in front of me.

It took an army of support and an amazing medical team to get to this point but most of all it took Jacqui. I can’t and would not want to ever try to put myself in her shoes but without her smile, sarcasm, support, tough love, smuggled coffee, patience and amazing strength this would have been a very different experience. I have no words really…just love.

“In spite of ourselves,
we’ll end up a’sittin’ on a rainbow…

Against all odds,
honey we’re the big door prize”

Day 100. That does feel pretty good to say. In the journals and transplant literature it is a big deal. I don’t take that for granted but instead of looking back, I am spending it sipping early morning coffee with Jacqui, making breakfasts and lunches for the kids and getting them off to school and continuing to get the house ready for Brandon’s visit and the holiday…you know, the normal stuff.

It’s time to return this blog to new ideas and future plans.

Here is to love, laughter, friendship, music and adventure in the New Year.



Added Note:

In Jacqui’s last post, Maya the cat was in a very bad way with no real answers to be found. We were on the brink of losing her. Yet somehow, she has recovered in grand fashion.

Jacqui wrote in one her her entries: Maya came into our lives for a reason, at a time when, in retrospect, we didn’t need to be dealing with a cat with issues. Or did we? It’s obvious she continues to be in our lives for many more. She may be small and compromised but her presence is big. She is truly a strange little beast…”

We are all small, compromised and strange little beasts if you really think about.


Peace and Love

December 18, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments