Nashville or Bust

The trip that started a longer journey

August 25

While Jane was in the hospital, I started a page on Caring Bridge for Jane to help all of her friends stay in touch with what was happening. I had yet another entry today.

Today We Honor Jane

This morning while I was sitting in the quiet, I was compelled to come to this space again. There is no health update nor report from the hospital room–just the sounds of a day waking. I like this time of day when the crickets harmonize with birds before slipping into their hiding spaces. It brings a sense of peace and wonderment.

In two hours we will begin the ceremonies and rituals of laying someone to rest. And while I’ve been witness to this ritual several times before, this one is different. And, I have no idea of how we will do it. But we will.

This space where we all come together–all those who shared, participated and helped shape a well-lived and well-loved life–it is a hard but tender moment, isn’t it? The flurry of this past week’s preparation is finally over and none of us have any busy work to do. That means we are open to what this day means and what this day brings. One small part is slipping into another.

We will hold each other, we will cry with each other and yes, we will even laugh with each other at the memories we exchange. And that, is part of the gift–of Jane’s gift. She’s bringing all of her “loveys” together in presence and spirit. Here and there a hand will slip into that of another and squeeze. You know the squeeze.

Today, we all will honor Jane and in that, we will thank her for helping us all to be better people. Jane will continue to be in our hearts.

August 25, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment


October, 6, 1990

This past Thursday, August 16, Jane, my mother-in-law, passed away. It still seems surreal to type these words.

There is so much that I can say–and want to say–but right now, find it hard to express. But as a woman, writing about another woman, I want to take a moment to appreciate all that Jane is to me for she truly completed the other half of my mama circle. Jane reinforced so many lovely things that my own mother had impressed (and continues to do so) upon me, while also teaching different things that only the mother of your spouse can. Let me explain.

On October 6, 1990, in addition to becoming the newest “Mrs. Killen” I also became someone else’s daughter-in-law. In this unspoken Ya-Ya Sisterhood-like ritual, something weighty was exchanged. At the time I didn’t realize it was happening because I was too busy exchanging wedding bands. But I’m sure she did. This was the moment when she entrusted me to takeover a big presence of Dave’s heart. Without saying it, she trusted that I would care for him as she had. He was her precious son. Me? I just wanted to be Dave’s wife. I didn’t know how to be the daughter of someone who wasn’t my own mom.

There were times, especially early on, when I wasn’t at my best. Sometimes I didn’t appreciate the inquisitiveness and gestures because to me, in that space, they felt like interference. I didn’t see the gifts. I didn’t understand. When I became a mother myself, it was hard to balance the complexities of all my “mom” relationships. There was one Mother’s Day in particular where I was at wit’s end. Brandon was either 3 or 4. I had wanted to spend time with him and with my own mom. I can still remember how tense things were between Jane and I. We didn’t speak much on that day.

Several years ago while reading, Carry On, Warrior I had to smile when I read the chapter entitled “On Weaving and Repentance.” (An excerpt can be found here, but it leaves out my favorite part. I’ve put it below.*) And while my situation wasn’t as extreme as the author’s, I realized there was a time when Jane and I had tugged on each other’s tablecloths. There were tears and tears. Yet in that space between the heave and ho, something happened. We wove our own pattern together that was intricate and beautiful. Aside from the one tablecloth at the center, we made a separate one. We used it to make forts for the kids. We set tables together for family meals. We draped it to protect furniture from science experiments and bake-a-thons. We didn’t worry about the little spills and stains because frankly, there wasn’t time to fret over the small things. We wrapped ourselves up in this cloth and kept each other warm and comforted each other when Dave was ill. Again, two women who were strangers to each other until they were brought together through a mutual love.

Flying Pig, 2018.

When I became a mother-in-law last spring to Brandon’s wife, Katie, I looked over at Jane during the reception and smiled. She had prepared me well for the moment. I had no doubt, no fear. Katie’s love for my son is deep, pure and true. I was so happy to welcome the newest “Mrs. Killen” into the circle.

Killen Women. Christmas, 2017.

And this past Mother’s Day… Jane and I didn’t see each other but connected via text. While I would have loved to have had this conversation in person, today I’m glad that I have the messages on my phone. I let her know how much I appreciated our relationship. She, in her typical Jane way, sent me a text the length of an email… with an emoji to boot. “…We are both so very lucky and secure in the love and support we have for each other [heart] sleep well dear one.” How times change. How we change. How love evolves.

Thank you, Jane, for everything. While I never could call you “Mom” you knew you were special to me. I love you and miss you. There is so much more I wish I could share with you in this space. But alas, we are where we are today. Know that I will care for our tablecloth and make sure it continues the story. You are an angel among angels. Sleep well. –Jacqui



*from Glennon Melton Doyle’s Carry On Warrior, page 87:
“Mothers-in-law, enjoy watching your daughter-in-law learn to weave. When she makes a mistake, when she drops a stitch, allow her to notice it on her own. Tell her often how beautiful her pattern is. Be kinder than necessary. Bring her some tea. Be simple. Be sophisticated.

And daughters-in-law, notice the beauty of the rug that your mother-in-law spent a lifetime weaving. Remember that her pattern is mostly firmly established–no need to suggest improvements. Be kinder than necessary, being mindful that the piece of art it took her a lifetime to weave–her masterpiece–she gave to you, to keep you warm at night. One day you’ll give your masterpiece away too. Be simple. Be sophisticated.”

August 19, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Change a Preposition and Change a Perspective (December 30)

Note: This is a post I wrote on December 30 but did not publish. I found it now and realize, it was complete.

It’s cold out. The year is ending and I find myself ruminating.

Sometimes I marvel at the thoughts that wisp through my brain. They can start so small but given space and permission, they run wide. These subconscious nudges that come about on their own accord are so very random and generally, so very unrelated to what I’m doing. Do you have them too?

I’m learning to lean into these musings a bit more — to decode them, ask questions of them, marvel at their obliqueness, and understand their connection. Sometimes they frighten me. Sometimes they exhaust me. Sometimes they float away and try as I might to recover them, forever lost.

Today’s thought however had a little bit of tooth to it and was one of those that rang in fast,clear and strong. Enjoying a lazy moment after defrocking the Christmas tree, this phrase literally spun through my brain:

“I don’t want to die of something, I want to die with something.”

I’m not sure what was more jarring — the fact that this type of thought randomly popped into my psyche or the fact that this type of thought made complete sense to me. In fact, it brought a sense of peace and purpose.

Thinking about it more, I appreciate how changing something like a preposition can be a catalyst for living differently. To not dwell on the basis of transition but rather, to ensure that essential things like love, laughter, gratitude, kindness, spirit, introspection, serenity, simplicity, and humility are always in my bucket. To me, this changes the situation. ~Jacqui


August 19, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment