Posted by: nancykenny | September 24, 2009

In Loving Memory of my Friend

Yesterday morning, after a battle with cancer, my friend, Jan Murray, died peacefully in her sleep.

I hadn’t know Jan for a very long time. In fact, before this summer, you probably would have considered us acquaintances. All that changed when we were paired up for an intensive acting workshop this past August. That’s when we started spending every single day together.

The news of her passing came as an absolute shock to me. Yes, I knew she was sick, but she had beaten it before.

This isn’t the first death I’ve experienced in my life this year. My grandmother passed away in late January. But she was done with life. When I saw Jan, I saw a woman so full of life that, in my mind, there was no way she was nearing the end.

I remember when we started working together, Jan told me one of the first times she saw me was in the very same class we were attending and she was so impressed and inspired by my me. I was confused. She had it backwards. I had seen her work in that class (she was doing a scene from The Graduate) and I was not only impressed by her work, but inspired by her life story.

Here was a woman who had overcome so much, including a major illness, and she was glowing. Jan always glowed. She simply looked stunning.

We worked together on John Patrick Shanley’s Doubt, a play that will now have a very different meaning for me. Jan was always so keen and prepared. She’d get frustrated and apologetic for not being able to remember the lines so well, even though I kept telling her it didn’t matter since someone would be on book. But we’d meet every day to have tea and run lines. And we’d talk. About our lives, about her son, her volunteer work, theatre in Ottawa and yes, her illness.

I enjoyed our talks, but I’d always tune out at that last one.

It was naive, I know, but part of me, I guess, believed in this healing power of the theatre and the work we were doing. Besides, when we were performing the scenes together, there was no way you would think that woman was dying.

I’ll always remember a dancing Sister Aloysius.

In an odd twist, as costume pieces, I brought in a crucifix and rosary that belonged to my grandmother. Though I am not religious, I do believe in symbols and spirituality. I have been carrying that rosary around with me wherever I go. I carry it for Jan now too.

Jan Murray is my friend. I love her and I miss her.

Ara Batur (The Row Boat) by Sigur Ros

Lyric Translation

You tried everything
Yes, a thousand times
Experienced enough
Been through enough
But you it was who let everything
Into my heart
and you it was who once again
Awoke my spirit

I parted, you parted

You stir up
In a blender
Everything in disarray
But it was you who was always
There for me
It was you who never judged
My true friend

I parted, you parted

You sail on rivers
With an old oar
Leaking badly
You swim to shore
Pushed the waves away
But to no avail
You float on the sea
Sleep on the surface
Light through the fog

I parted, you parted



  1. me too. xo

  2. Thank you for sharing your fond memories of Jan. A glowing tribute to a woman who was a great source of light and joy. She lit up any place she entered with her dazzling smile and optimism even in the face of death. Shine on dear Jan!

  3. I’m really sorry to hear about the passing of your friend.

    Take care,

  4. […] – 396 About Nancy – 386 Nancy’s Must See List at the Ottawa Fringe – 373 In Loving Memory of my Friend – […]

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