to jacqueline’s mom

May 25th, 2011

When bird passes on –
like moon,
a friend to water
– Masahide

It’s the final week of rehearsals before the fifth grade song and dance revue, and since my daughter is sidelined on crutches, she sits wallflowered in the front row every afternoon until I come into the auditorium to fetch her. I’m none too cheery when I get there, since the sight of a hundred kids cavorting to Katy Perry makes my eyes sting. It’s like a stage show of all that Georgia has missed in this long year of hurt feelings, hard knocks and disappointments – a cruel season, to be sure, and not quite over. Today at dismissal the teachers called all the kids into small groups and handed out letters. The letters ran out before Georgia could get one, but she returned and told me what it said.

“Jacqueline’s mom died last night.”

I stood in that sludge of disbelief that comes with information you can’t yet receive, the noun and verb colliding in violent disagreement.  It can’t be. No. Yes. It is.

Our two girls had shared a second-grade class. There was not much that passed between us moms at first. Jacqueline’s mom was a single mom, working, with two kids and no other family nearby. She had moved to California for a job and had since left a husband. We passed one another at pickup, and she was hurried, private. By spring she had spoken, or emailed, I can’t remember, and she came to the house. We talked. I gave her a book. She was searching; she was ready. She came to one of my retreats where she won the door prize: a kitchen timer. She felt lucky.

Afterwards, we always greeted each other across the grass, waiting for the kids to ramble out from school. She passed me quick updates: she’d quit smoking, changed jobs, started therapy and worked out the family issues; she was getting better, reading books, loving her kids, taking her time, and nearly ready. I’m using the timer, she told me. One day she handed me a plastic shopping bag with something inside.

“I saw this and thought of you.” I waited until I was in the car to look inside. It was a 2011 Gift of Zen wall calendar that is hanging in our kitchen right now. We’ll be turning the page soon. Looking at it my eyes sting.

I feel lucky.

I feel lucky I was a friend.

To Jacqueline’s mom.



  1. I’m so sorry for your loss.

    Comment by Emily — May 25, 2011 @ 5:06 pm

  2. Oh….oh, my. thoughtful, sad.

    Comment by sweetsalty kate — May 25, 2011 @ 5:14 pm

  3. I feel the need to type something. But I am at a loss. I am feeling. For you. For her. For her family.

    Comment by Meg — May 25, 2011 @ 5:23 pm

  4. I’m sorry for your loss. It is becoming a year of many and tragic losses.

    Comment by dosankodebbie — May 25, 2011 @ 6:01 pm

  5. She was lucky you were a friend. How perfect life is that it gives us what we need just in time.

    Comment by Kaishu — May 25, 2011 @ 6:16 pm

  6. Our days are not promised. We should be mindful of the people in our lives, known and unknown to us, and extend every human kindness available as each person we encounter is fighting some sort of battle. You should never miss an opportunity to effect a person’s life.

    God’s peace and blessings to Jacqueline and her family. I will be praying for them.

    Comment by Debra — May 25, 2011 @ 6:18 pm

  7. Wordless here.

    Comment by Jena — May 25, 2011 @ 6:27 pm

  8. This is one of those times when I can be more meaningful with my silence than paltry words and ideas. Know that I am sitting with you in All This. Love.

    Comment by Kathryn — May 25, 2011 @ 6:36 pm

  9. Thank you for the lesson.

    Comment by Jenni Derryberry Mann — May 25, 2011 @ 6:36 pm

  10. no words. just love.

    Comment by Meg Casey — May 25, 2011 @ 9:02 pm

  11. Jacqueline’s mom.


    Comment by Bobbi — May 25, 2011 @ 10:46 pm

  12. Simply sending love.

    Comment by Roos — May 26, 2011 @ 3:47 am

  13. Maezen, I am so glad you wrote about this. I needed to see this. I feel so lucky to have known jacqueline’s mom, too.

    Comment by Melissa — May 26, 2011 @ 5:16 am

  14. It is so wonderful that you were able to support her unfolding, and that she supported yours. There are so many truths that could be articulated here about impermanence, etc., and yet it is so appropriate not to state them. In different ways I sorrow for you, for Georgia, and for Jacqueline. Thank you for connecting us.

    Comment by Donn — May 26, 2011 @ 6:54 am

  15. Karen…through tears I type, there are no words, just a heart overflowing with Love. ♥

    Comment by julia — May 26, 2011 @ 8:15 am

  16. I’m so sorry for your loss. I feel for her little girl. Heartbreaking.

    Comment by Michelle P — May 26, 2011 @ 8:53 am

  17. This is so hard. I am really sorry you are going through this hard time.

    Comment by Pamela — May 26, 2011 @ 4:15 pm

  18. You never know in the moment whether the gift you are offering is large or small, or how much a small gesture of friendship will mean to the recipient. Sounds as if you gave Jacqueline’s mom so much more than a kitchen timer and a book. Blessings on you all.

    Comment by Katrina Kenison — May 27, 2011 @ 4:13 am

  19. My love to Jacqueline and her family. I deeply appreciate you writing about Jacqueline’s mum. Yesterday, I learned a mum from my sister’s children’s school had died very suddenly. I was quite sad to hear it and was sadder still that the only thread in the conversation was an, “Oh my God, that could have been me”. The imagining of a world without us in it is not the point. Mortality is and IT will be us one day. How very precious our lives are and how little time we have. I was thankful for what Debra wrote.

    Comment by Kelly — May 27, 2011 @ 8:20 pm

  20. so sad, words escape me. Wish I could give all who have lost a hug

    Comment by suzi — June 1, 2011 @ 4:52 am

  21. tears… sad.

    lovely, and sad.

    Comment by Stacy @ Sweet Sky — June 16, 2011 @ 8:36 pm

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