Life was not without its challenges or sorrows when we lived on Anacortes Street and my daughters were still little girls, but it felt so simple and joyful. Our days revolved around helping our children to grow in wisdom and grace. It was a neighborhood effort with parents watching over our young ones and helping each other through both good times and bad. We were one great big extended family that lived in different houses that were open to one another even in the middle of the night if need be.
Our next door neighbors were a bit older than Mike and I. They had teenage children as well as a couple of daughters who were already grown and living on their own. Dave and Betty always had a house full of love and laughter that included visits from their two granddaughters, Kim and Tisha, who happened to be in the same age group as my own little girls. It was quite natural for the youngsters to gravitate toward one another and spend time together during those times.
I remember how joyful it was to watch the four girls playing in our backyard. Just as all children do they talked and laughed and created ways of having fun together. I mostly recall how much they enjoyed singing. One of their favorite tunes was something about a baby bumble bee that made us all smile each time they repeated its silly stanzas. I marveled at how quickly they were able to become so comfortable with one another and always looked forward to the times when Kim and Tisha came to town to see their grandparents. My daughters felt the same way.
Of course over time they all grew up and since Kim and Tisha lived in west Texas their visits were often infrequent. Once they were on their own, as were my own daughters, we only heard about them from our dear friend Betty, their grandmother. It was not until Facebook that we were able to reconnect with them and follow the stories of their lives. By then they were juggling their own families and I had moved from the old neighborhood.
During the last couple of years I followed the health issues of Kim who was closest in age to my eldest daughter Maryellen. Kim endured quite a bit of pain and loss but somehow she kept that same smiling and optimistic outlook that had defined her as a child. Through surgeries and long hospital stays she inspired those of us who knew her as we rooted for her recovery and cheered every positive step.
Things appeared to be going better for Kim but she and her family had only months ago endured the loss of her beloved grandmother, Betty. I think all of us wondered how we might move forward without the anchor that Betty always was. Kim missed her especially and only days ago mentioned to her sister Tisha that she longed to see Betty, whom she called “Maw Maw,” once again. Who knew that her wish would be granted so soon? Kim died quite suddenly and peacefully this week.
I cried at the news of Kim’s passing. I always think of her as such a sweet and giving soul so much like her Maw Maw. My heart weeps for Kim’s mother Sandy because I cannot even imagine how horrible it must be for her to lose her little girl, especially given that Sandy’s mom, Betty, died only months ago. The loss of such special people leaves a void that is never again filled.
I remember overhearing a discussion between my mother and grandmother when my father died. Both my mom and grandma were totally devastated by his death. In fact neither woman was ever quite the same after he was gone. My grandmother spoke of losing her parents, and a spouse and then her only son. She said that it felt so wrong, so out of sync to lose a child. I suppose that is how I felt when I learned of Kim’s passing. Somehow in the grand scheme of things we want to protect our children from all sorrow and harm but know that sometimes all of our efforts are not quite strong enough to prevent the inevitable ups and downs of life and death.
Kim is no doubt hugging and loving her grandmother even as I write these words. They are laughing and telling stories and just enjoying the fact that all of the pain of their illnesses are gone. I suppose that they will now be angels who watch over their family members for all time.
Love does not end with death. It continues through eternity. It is an endless thread that binds us to one another. Kim was the essence of love. The beautiful generosity and innocence that I saw in her as a child was still very much who she was as a grown woman. We have all been blessed to have known her and the love that she gave the world will remain in our hearts.
I pray that Kim’s mother Sandy and sister Tisha will be filled with her love and that it will sustain them in the times to come. For me I suppose I will always remember the sweet little girl who sang and laughed in my backyard and made me smile. Rest in peace, Kim.