As you all know, we have just come out of October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and I did a couple of posts highlighting this very important cause. Well I am like many of you now. I have lost someone who was so dear to me, to this horrible beast of a disease. It has taken me several days to come here and write about this, because I just didn’t know what to say. It was like I was in a state of shock, but it was a shock that I knew was a possibility, and yet I didn’t want to entertain the thought of it all turning out this way. I didn’t feel like I knew how to honor my friend and do her justice with my words. Then I decided that her advice to me would be, “Girl, just say what you feel” :-) So I will just say it simply…I’m gonna miss her so much.
My friend’s name was Kim. We were former co-workers who shared some great laughs and camaraderie in the office. We both worked for a corporation in downtown Atlanta. We worked in the Sales Department and she was one of the managers in the department. From the beginning she was always cool. On my first day, I was introduced to her and she said, “Welcome” and then we both laughed because we saw a resemblance. We both have sort of heart shaped faces and we just looked like we could be relatives. She looked sort of like one of my cousins does. So from that day on, she would walk past my cubicle and say something or she would stop and talk.
My best memories of her are her coming in in the mornings and saying, “Ohhh, I need my ‘cawfeee’ (coffee)”. Kim had the most wonderful New York accent and to my Southern ears, in its difference, it was music to my ears :-) I love to do impressions, so one day I parroted her morning line to her as she walked by my desk before she could say it and we both laughed. I created a monster though…after that she wanted me to do it all the time :-) She added one time though that I didn’t have enough of a Southern accent for her to mimic, so when we were kidding around, I would thicken my accent up for her pleasure :)
Kim’s other favorite thing besides coffee was chocolate. So around that 3pm slump that we all get, she would come by my desk and ask if I had any chocolate. Sometimes I did and I would load her up with whatever I had. At Halloween and Christmas, I would go by her office and we would trade off candy. It was great :-) But we would remedy any chocolate droughts by going to hit up the vending machines in one of the break rooms. As time progressed she started to collect spare change in a metal tin on her desk, and at nearly 3pm on the dot, she would come along rattling the tin. I’d hear her before I even saw her and then this voice would say, “Let’s go get some chocolate.” I’d take along my own money, but she would often just say, “Hey, I’m buying.” She was just a cool lady, like a big sister. She was great, not because she bought me candy…she was just a friend to me and I so appreciated her.
Kim was one of the higher-ups, but she never played that game with me. She respected me and I respected her. Even though we were in different groups within the department, she would call me into her office to brainstorm with her. Whenever she was writing something up she would always call me to her office with the enticement of chocolate :-) She didn’t need to entice me though because it felt good knowing that she trusted my judgment and skills. It felt good to be valued. And here’s the thing that shows what kind of woman Kim was, she would tell other higher-ups that I had helped her or let her boss know. I think the true strength of character is shown when people know that their strength comes from not only doing well themselves, but also from not feeling threatened by sharing the light with another and knowing that there is power in standing together. That was Kim. She even encouraged me to write for the newsletter for a time. She was always a cheerleader :-)
On many Friday afternoons, nearing the end of my time there, we would sit in her office and talk about what the future held. I was engaged to Brit Boy and was preparing to leave soon. She would say, “Lemme see that picture of you and that cute fella of yours.” I would go and get it and she would say, “Look at that, you all got matching dimples.” Then she would say, “Be happy girl…you deserve it.”
Kim said that she had dreams for the future too. She always wanted to do something to help girls to be strong in this world. She had wanted to do something that would help girls and others through mentoring and other services. She said that when she retired she would love to get a grant to set something up. Then she added, “I’m gonna look you up whether you’re in England or not. I need you to brainstorm with me and write up me a grant proposal.” I would laugh and say, “Kim, you need a grant writer for that, somebody who knows their stuff.” And she’d say, “I trust you to work it out.” I choke up when I remember that. Kim was what we all need in this world…someone who believes in us in spite of everything and will tell us so whenever we need it. So I told her that I’d be there for her when she called, and I fully meant that, no matter how out of my depth I felt :-) She had been there for me countless times and I was gonna be there for her whenever that call came.
I left that December, nearly three years back now and she left there that January. She got another job in North Carolina that was too good of an opportunity to pass up. We both went off into the next chapter of our lives. I always had it in my mind that we would see each other again. I figured that one day I was gonna drive on up to North Carolina, drop in on her and say, “Kim, where’s the chocolate and ‘cawfeee’?"
Then about a year later, I found out that she had breast cancer and even though I know it is a terrible diagnosis, we always have to have hope, you know. So I sent her a card and letter to let her know that I was in her corner and gave her an additional email address to contact me and I prayed.
Well, as the last few days of October ticked away, Kim passed away. She fought the good fight til the end. She was laid to rest yesterday. I wasn’t able to go back for the funeral, but in a quiet moment, I thought of her. And as the sun set and I looked out the window at the clouds, I waved her off and I was proud to have known her and to have called her my friend. People like her come into your life to teach you and I learned a lot about the kind of person that I want to be. I will value her friendship forever…a friend who believed in me.