Duality. It’s a main theme in life because it represents joy and sadness. You can’t have one without the other and you’re bound to experience both, sometimes at the same time. My October was a good representation of this.
At the beginning of the month, one of my good friends growing up passed away unexpectedly from a stroke and an undetected heart condition. A little more than a week later, I left for an incredible 2-week trip to Japan. The lowest of lows and the highest of highs, all in one month.
As human beings, we have this complex system of emotions inside of us. We experience life events that evoke big emotions, like grief, and yet, time doesn’t stop, and we have to learn how grief fits into our daily routine. Random little things, like how she was always the one to drive us around, remind me in a moment of who she was and that thought is followed by the reminder that she, her physical being, isn’t here anymore. It’s so strange to me and doesn’t truly make sense how someone was here, I can picture her in my mind, but not anymore.
My friend Kimberly was one of a kind. If you knew her, you would agree. She had an impactful personality that drew you in yet made you cautious of her outright truth-telling. I grew up with Kimberly, but in reality, for better or worse, she was more mature than most of us. When I was an awkward high schooler and clueless young adult, I looked up to her, and she showed me how to grow up, to be no-nonsense, and to be bold. She taught me sass, snark, and class. She would tell it how it is but also became incredibly awkward and bashful if you were shining the spotlight on her.
She visited me in Austin for SXSW one year. We made our way to the front of the crowd to be closer to the stage, and she had no problem telling people to move after they tried to get into the space in front of us.
She was ambitious and incredibly hard-working, making the world a better place with a passionate career in non-profit work that also made her a world traveler. I think she had visited 30+ countries! Honestly, I think she worked too much, and she knew it, but she was extremely committed to things.
She also gave that commitment and care to her relationships, and I could count on her for a flower delivery or response on what was going on in my life. She was generously involved and encouraging, quick to express her joy and gratitude. Just look at her extensive chosen family and you can see how her love was wide and deep.
Another thing that stands out to me is that Kimberly was outspoken about human rights, fighting for black lives, gun control, and LGBTQA+ lives. She understood her privilege and her ability to speak for those who couldn’t be heard. She wasn’t afraid to engage in a political conversation because ultimately, she was fighting for humanity. We could all use a little bit (or a lot) of Kimberly’s heart and bravery.
And then all the little but big details that completed who she was. She loved NYC, where she found her true home after college. She especially loved the city at Christmastime and when it snowed, and she reveled in having Broadway nearby. She had an impressive Peloton streak. She loved sports and had a deep loyalty to the Jets and Rangers. I like to believe she’s pulling strings in the afterlife to help them win.
I’m so thankful I got to have Kimberly in my life. Her magical being is woven into who I am. I think that seems to happen when you spend those years of your teens and 20s growing up with, making memories with, and loving someone. My life is brighter and fuller in countless ways because I got to know her.
It’s said that when someone dies, their energy leaves the body and changes form. Grief is a tide, and I know it will never go away, but I have some peace knowing Kimberly’s magic – her passion, joy, generosity, thoughtfulness, ambition, loyalty – all of the things that made her are still here, a part of us, inspiring us to continue her legacy. Death is never easy, but at 35, and unexpectedly feels cruel. But I’ll buy myself flowers just because for Fresh Flower Fridays, wear some pearls, find ways to fight injustice, and listen to Beyoncé, to try to fill the loss of her, to honor her legacy.
Thank you for taking the time to make space for my grief and witness Kimberly’s life. There are not enough words to convey her impact and love. As cliche as it is, I think constant reminders to savor your life and loved ones are necessary. So, I hope this is one to take a moment to show gratitude for what and who you have in your life.
P.S. The title comes from the song “Bigger Than the Whole Sky” by Taylor Swift, a song that came to mind when I heard the news of Kimberly’s death. While the song is thought to be about miscarriage, the lyrics in the chorus – “Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye, you were bigger than the whole sky, you were more than just a short time,” – describe a little about the enormous impact Kimberly had in this life and the massive loss felt through her loved ones. I don’t think she particularly cared for Taylor Swift, so she would roll her eyes at this naming, but I think she would appreciate that it fits the theme of how I named my Captivations posts after Taylor Swift lyrics this year.