Kandus Mayberry (Cousin)- Eulogy
I am up here today to tell you Kim’s story. Kimberly was born to Joe and Nan Gwaltney on September 26, 1979. As a baby, Kim was quiet, happy and always right next to her brother. Growing up as a child, Kim was confident, outgoing and competitive. Kim was always very active and a great athlete. Kim first began playing softball at the age of 5. At the age of 12, Kim played for the Phoenix Storm where she was part of a team that won the ASA National Championship for softball. While in high school Kim began to focus on volleyball and her senior year she was Player of the Year. Kim played volleyball at Glendale Community College and in her 2nd year was awarded as the Arizona Community College Athletic Conference Player of the Year, along with being a NJCAA All American twice. After GCC, Kim signed with Auburn University. In May of 2000 Kim’s mother Nan was diagnosed with lymphoma cancer. Due to this, Kim decided to stay in Arizona.
Kim met Deron in April of 2000 while she was working for Jack Daniels. When Deron saw Kim for the first time, he said that he would marry Kim some day. Kim and Deron were married on November 12th, 2000. Dylan was born on May 25th, 2001 and Kyrstin was born on August 10th 2003. Kim’s family meant everything to her and they were her world.
Kim began to have back pain around July of last summer. I can still remember her complaining of back pain while we were in San Diego that summer for our annual family vacation. Kim thought nothing of the pain though and went to see her primary doctor. Kim went through numerous tests with various reasons for the pain given to her. Kim was admitted to the hospital on October 15th and was told that she was experiencing a gall bladder issue. Kim finally met Dr. Hector Rodriguez who felt that there were more tests that were needed. Kim called him her “angle doctor” as he was the one that discovered her cancer. On October 20, 2008, at the age of 29, Kim was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. During this time, I had just moved to San Diego. I can remember my Mom calling me while all of this was going on, and I never would have imagined that something like this could happen. Being the same age as Kim, and also very active my whole life like Kim, I just did not understand. During this time, I began to look at life so much differently and started realizing what matters most in life. In the last few days, I have realized this more than ever.
Word began to spread quickly about Kim with constant calls and emails with people wondering what was going on. We could not believe the support that she was receiving and the number of people that wanted to help. During that time I had a friend send me a message about her Mom who was battling breast cancer, and a blog had been created for her. I thought a blog would be a great way to keep everyone up to date in regards to Kim’s journey and also a way to organize a fundraiser. Never would have I imagined how much Kim would run with this blog and be an inspiration to so many with her words. In Kim’s first posting she wrote, “I WILL beat this cancer!!! I am young, strong willed, confident and determined! This is just another trial in my life. Our Savior, our Lord is with me and will save me from this. I know good will come from this!” On average, Kim’s blog has 1,000 views per day.
As I have already mentioned, the amount of support that Kim started to receive when we created the blog was amazing. Right away everyone started joining together to help out the Miller family in any way that they could. A calendar was set up for those that wanted to bring meals to the Miller family. Thanks to Paula Lovejoy for all your help with this. A team was created for Kim for the Colon Cancer Walk, which Kim also participated in on November 15th. Thank you to Cher for organizing this. The first fundraiser was also held that same night as the Goodyear police department took on the Goodyear fire department in the Guns n Hoses Football game to benefit the Miller’s. This event was very touching for Kim as she wrote,
“I was called down onto the center of the field where everyone cheered for me. It got a bit emotional. Then out came the clippers. Deron lead his team in shaving his head for me since I will be bald with him very soon. What was so amazing was Paul Lovejoy (our dear friend from the Hoses team) started shaving Deron's head and then Deron shaved Paul's head. After that, the lines formed. Most everyone from the Police team and the Fire team all got down and shaved their heads for me. Men on the Fire team would get their heads shaved and then come and introduce themselves to me because we had never met. Men that have never met me, never thought twice and shaved their heads in honor of my fight. I was so touched. So much of my family was there and they couldn't believe what they were seeing...it was so awesome! I can't express correctly my gratitude to everyone last night...Chad Waltz especially for putting on the entire event. Thank you Chad!”
A bowling fundraiser was held on November 22nd for the Miller Family which was a huge success. We had over 200 bowlers, 105 auction items, and raised $17,000. There were many people that spent many hours on this and also many that donated auction items and we thank you so much for this. A big thanks also goes out to the committee that planned the event! Kim was greatly moved by the bowl a thon and wrote,
“When I entered the bowling alley I was then greeted by the amazing team that volunteered their day to benefit my family. As I continued in to actually see the bowling alley, I was brought to tears by the amount of people that were already there bowling, eating, and signing up for the silent auction items. My aunts took me to the back so I could have my moment. I am still blown away at everyone I saw...a lot of you I know...and so many of you I did not know. I had people coming up to me that saw my story in the newspaper that had no clue who I was before, giving me cards with wonderful thoughts, prayers, and donations. I could never thank you all enough for all the hard work put in to this event and the tremendous turn out. We have been praying for a financial blessing to help us through these times...well, our wonderful Lord has answered that prayer. He had all of you show up to support us. Thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”
Sentimental Journey put on a benefit concert for Kim on January 31st. Thanks to everyone that participated in this event. A yard sale was held at Kristin’s house on Feb. 28th. Thanks to everyone that donated items for this event and thank you to Kristin and Eli for opening your home. Kim was featured on KPHO through the “Pay it Forward” program where the Waltz Family made it possible for the Miller family to go on our annual family vacation to San Diego. Thanks so much to the Drucker and Smith Family as well for your donation of cash and the wonderful gifts you provided to everyone in the Miller family to enjoy in San Diego. We were so happy that Kim was able to make it to San Diego for the family trip, and we cherished this time with Kim and the times that she was able to make it out to the beach. While there, we also took pictures as a family at the pier. Natalie thanks so much for doing this! You truly are amazing! This was a very emotional time for everyone and will be a day that will never be forgotten.
Kim transferred to the Cancer Treatment Centers of America towards the end of July. We were so happy to have her at this amazing place which also had a very positive spirit to it. During this time, Kim had visitor after visitor with her room constantly being full of people. The security guard there said that he had never seen anyone with so many visitors and that Kim was almost like a celebrity. Natalie also began to post pictures on the blog of each person that came to see Kim during this time. Even though Kim was pretty sick during this time, she remained happy and so thankful. It was during this time that everyone really got to spend time with Kim and reflect on her life. It is this time that I think everyone will remember the most. Thanks so much to everyone that came to visit Kim while she was at the Cancer Center!
On August 8th, the Alumni of Glendale Community College and Kim’s coaches put on a Volleyball benefit camp which was a huge success. Her former team also visited her at the Cancer Center after the benefit.
Kim and I both grew up in Glendale, but we went to different grade schools. We both grew up playing sports in the same area but played on different teams for the most part except for softball and soccer together when we were in grade school. I did know that some of my friends that I grew up with played softball and volleyball with Kim, including my best friend that played softball with Kim. However, I did not actually realize how many of the same girls that we knew until this last year. Throughout this journey, Kim’s teammates and friends have been right there doing whatever they could do to help. This included offering support and prayers, taking part in the various fundraisers, and coming to visit Kim at the hospital. Being an active young female and seeing something like this happen to someone like you is very eye opening. Just like when we were girls and women playing together on teams, everyone stepped up to help Kim with her fight. Like Kim, we chose to believe and not give up, and continued to pray for her. Being an athlete, you learn so much about life and how to fight, which is something that we all have in common. I truly believe that Kim’s attitude, strength and determination was partly due to her being an athlete and being part of a team. Thanks so much to all of the women that Kim played sports with growing up that have showed their support and that are here today. I know that her experience will inspire all of us to make a difference. I also hope that we will join together to continue on with Kim’s fight against cancer in the years ahead.
Kim’s fight began pretty smoothly with chemo treatments every 2 weeks. However, she began to experience more bumps in the road as time went by. Each time something happened, I would get a call from my Mom. My Mom would tell me what was happening and every time I would search for the positive. At times she would give me discouraging news from the doctors, and I would always tell her that you cannot believe everything that the doctors say. I truly believed that Kim would fight and overcome cancer. I believed this so much that I did not come home from San Diego when my Mom called me the night before Kim passed to tell me she wasn’t doing so well. I would get so frustrated and angry whenever someone talked as though Kim was not going to make it. Kim also would get frustrated and mad when anyone ever questioned her surviving. Kim refused to give up and knew that she could not give in to cancer. I believed that Kim’s attitude and determination would get her through, and for the most part, she got through almost every obstacle presented to her. Every time she got knocked down, she would get right back up. I also believe that Kim would not have made it through her struggles without the support and prayers that Kim received. Kim, I so admire you for your fight and I know that there are so many other people out there that were also inspired by you.
To my family-
During the last year, we also lost Grandpa Keith and Smitty to cancer who were also diagnosed with cancer around the same time as Kim. We have been through far too many challenges as a family with this being the hardest of all so far. We must however understand that we are meant to grow and learn with every hardship that we encounter and we must believe that everything happens for a reason. Despite going through one thing after another, we continue to overcome adversity. At one point Kim wrote on her blog, “This experience has already brought so much good to my life as well as to my family's.” I guarantee we are a better family and better people after every challenge that we face. Today I challenge my family to continue to make a difference through Kim. We must not let her be forgotten and we must continue to live through her fight. I challenge you to find your own way to fight cancer, and I challenge my family to join together in continuing to support the fight against cancer.
Kim is Gone
You can shed tears that Kim is gone
Or you can smile because she has lived
You can close your eyes and pray that Kim will come back
Or you can open your eyes and see all she’s left
Your heart can be empty because you can’t see Kim
Or you can be full of the love you shared
You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday
Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday
You can remember Kim and only that she’s gone
Or you can cherish her memory and let it live on
You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back
Or you can do what Kim would want: smile, open your eyes, love, and go on.
Kim will forever have an impact on those that she knew. Kim touched the heart of everyone that she met, and also so many people that only knew her through her blog. As much pain as we are feeling right now, we all know that Kim is smiling down on us and would not want us to be sad. God had a plan for Kim and Kim’s life purpose was to be an inspiration to so many others. The bible says, “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven….He has made everything appropriate in its time.
Kim is now an angel among us and will always be here for her family and friends. Kim is playing on God’s team now, and we must accept and believe this and think of joy when we think of her. Kim will forever be missed but her memory will live on forever.
Don’t think of Kim as gone away-
Her journey’s just begun
Life holds so many facets
This earth is only one.
Just think of her resting
From the sorrows and the tears
In a place of warmth and comfort
Where there are no days and years
Think how she must be wishing
That we could know today
How nothing but our sadness
Can really pass away
And think of her as living
In the hearts of those she touched
For nothing loved is ever lost
And she was loved so much
Kim I did not get to see you in your last days so during this time I would like to close by saying, “I promise to make sure that your children know that you are an angel that will forever be with them. I love you, you will always be in my heart, and I will never forget you.”
Kristin Milstead (Cousin)
Back in January I found out I was pregnant. I couldn’t help but feel a lil guilty having this blessing while my cousin was fighting for her life. But this feeling soon faded because Kim was so happy for me.
As my belly began to grow; I became accustomed to belly rubs from Kim. I also became accustomed to baring my big belly for all to see and I did this for you Kim; your smile when you looked at my bare Buda belly was all worth it. Sorry to those that I offended from the excessive belly exposure. Whenever Kim would see me she would have her hands stretched out and be saying let me have that belly. Constant complements from Kim about my belly is all I ever heard from her and this is all while she wasn’t feeling good. Kim could be so sick and she still had stretched out hands to rub my belly.
A few weeks ago as I was getting ready to visit Kim, I realized that I had some lovely stretch marks on my belly…. the same belly that Kim so loved. I knew this would be a topic to discuss with Kim. As Kim was rubbing my belly, I told her of my new found stretch marks and I wish you have seen us . Kim was about an inch from my belly, delicately inspecting and a lil loopy from pain meds telling me I was crazy and she said in fact sit here and leave your shirt up so I can just stare at your belly.
I know that Kim would want me to thank our family. Kim was so proud of her family. Her eyes lit up when any family member entered the room. So thank you from Kim to our uncles for your continued, rock solid, manly support. Thank you to our aunts from Kim for your continued medical advice, help with new found hair dews and for being there for Nan. Thank you to our awesome cousins! I know that Kim is so proud of each one of her cousins. We never let her fight alone and were even lucky enough to celebrate a cousin’s party with Kim a few weeks ago.
Nan and Joe your strength has been amazing and your dedication to Kim was noticed by all. Scott your compassion for Kim was unlike any other and Kim knows that if you could have taken her place you would have. Deron, you lived your wedding vows of in sickness and in health. You never left Kim’s side.
Kim, a few months ago you said to me….I can’t wait to see the baby’s eyes. What color will they be? Will they have your green eyes or Eli’s blue? Well Kim, I know you’ve already seen the baby’s eyes because I feel your presence watching over the baby. I know this baby has a very special guardian angel…you Kim
So Kim until we meet again….help us all to remember the all the good memories. Visit us in a passing butterfly, a gentle breeze and of course please visit us in our dreams.
I love you
Mike Jessen (Uncle)
Kim is my beautiful niece. I am almost 30 years older than her. I am supposed to be the teacher, with all the Wisdom, but as life plays out Kim is the teacher, and I am the student. She Taught me two things that standout in front of me. Her faith in God and true beauty. Her faith in God is relentless, so powerful she never questioned god plan for her. She never got mad and asked why me. She just kept smiling. Her faith was so strong that I would tease her and say okay you pray for me, you don’t need my prayers, I need yours. She would just smile and hold my hand. Kim reinforced my faith in God. Once again she taught me what true faith is.
Kim is God giving beauty; she wore it so very well. As we all know when Kim walked out on the beach in San Diego or into a room full of her friends she would light everything up like a full moon on a warm summer night.
I saw Kim’s beauty again about 3 weeks ago, my son Daniel and I were hiking in Colorado. We sat down by a lake, elevation about 12,000 feet. It was very peaceful and quite, snow capped mountain tops, the rocks all around us sparkled, multicolored flower, all this beauty sat in a little green valley. As Daniel and I sat there, I looked out into the prettiest clear blue water. My surroundings were so beautiful. I thought of Kim. I thought of her for so long that I saw her reflection in that beautiful clear blue water. Once again Kim taught me true beauty. On another night while camping, I stuck my head out of my sleeping bag around midnight or so. The moon was full, the stars sparkled. I thought of Kim again. Today when we lay Kim to rest the moon is in its full cycle again as it was when I was camping. In the Native American Indian culture, that means Kim and I have a special bond forever.
My own Dad has a saying. If you have one true friend in this world that will stand by you thru thick and thin you are truly rich. Kim is truly rich, her family and friends were by her side the night and day of her passing. I do believe it was not only comforting to her but all of us as well. She had her husband Deron, lifelong friends, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, Mom, Dad, and her Brother there thru the night. Some slept near her bed, some slept in the hallway, even on the hard wood floor, never leaving her alone for a moment. She taught me a true lesson before she went to heaven. As we all stood by her bed and looked into her big, beautiful soft eyes. Without words she sent us all a message to keep living, loving, and laughing... That is the way she lived her life until the end. For her family she sent a very special message, I am happy, safe, and in no more pain. We will meet again.
Joe, you are a fine father, you have a quite strength. Nan, a very loving and caring mother. Scott, a gentle brother, Kim carried all these fine qualities with her.
Deron, watching your commitment in caring for Kim is an inspiration; you are such a devoted and loving husband and father. We are so very proud of you. Remember my friend its ok to cry it will make your armor shine. Always know Deron that our family will be there for you, Dylan, and Kyrstin (Kiki) and Deanna there is nothing that we all would not do to help and protect you.
I am so proud of my family, we had a hard year. Letting go of some of are loved ones, and now our precious Kim. It seems like every time we turn around there is a funeral for one of our family members, but I like to think that God made us like a Mighty Oak Tree, you can knock some bark off of us, but we will weather the storm, we will still be standing tall. We will endure as long as we stay together as a family and keep our faith In God.
I would like to take a moment to explain this bear (holding on up to the audience) One will be sent with Kim, and to you Deron, Joe, Nan, Scott, Dylan, Kiki and Deanna if you are lonely and missing her this will give you comfort. Just hold this bear close to your heart and know that she is always with you.
In closing this is for our Lovely Nan, Nan I found these words, and I feel in my heart Kim would say this to you. Remember Mom, HEALING DOES NOT ALWAYS MEAN STAYING ON THE SIDE OF LIFE. SOMETIMES GOD HAS OTHER PLANS FOR HIS CHILDREN AND BOTH SIDES OF LIFE ARE REALLY ONE. GOOD BLESS YOU MOM, I LOVE YOU.
Kathy Mayberry (Aunt)
To All You Bloggers Out There - It’s Aunt Kathy Here with a Very Important Update:
Kim, you fought a courageous battle the last 10 months and I know in your eyes you feel like you lost the war, but I want you to believe that it doesn’t matter if you win or lose, it is all in how you play the game and my dear sweet niece, you played the game better than most people could of done, including myself, and I salute you for a job well done.
The others that have spoke before me did a great job explaining what an incredible person you are, so I won’t repeat the many attributes you have and how much you mean to all who have crossed your path, I will give some examples of how you always walked the walk versus talked the talk in demonstrating what a positive inspirational person you are.
From day one of this horrible diagnosis and prognosis you were given, you never once said that you could not fight this ugly beast. I remember the day you got the horrible news in October and believe me, I wish it wasn’t on my birthday, you shed a few tears and then said to me, “okay tell me what I need to do to conquer this battle and I will do it with every ounce of my heart and soul”. I can’t leave my babies, my husband and my wonderful family.
I remember the day we found out that you couldn’t have your liver resection and colon tumor removal surgery because the cancer had gone crazy in your body further attacking your lungs and growing much larger in your colon; you looked up at me and said, “at least my liver is okay”. No matter what bad news you got, you always found something positive to say and focus on. I saw this over and over and couldn’t believe that someone so young could have such an incredible outlook in the worst of times and situations.
The other story I would like to tell is, how a couple of days before your passing, you put your own grief of hearing the terrible results of your most recent scans on hold to come to the aid of another cancer patient that you had met in CTCA. A group of us had you in the wheelchair taking you outside to enjoy the fountain, when we passed by Melissa’s room (a 31 year old gal with stage 4 lung cancer). You heard Melissa crying and you asked Deron to stop and push you into Melissa’s room. You asked her what was wrong and she said, “I got some bad news just now from my oncologist that the oral chemotherapy I am on is not working and I need to go back on aggressive, nasty IV Chemo with terrible side effects and I need another back surgery because I fractured another vertebrae in my back”. You tell Deron, “Push me closer so I can hold Melissa and you almost fall out of the wheelchair to get closer to Melissa to hug her”. You tell Melissa, “I got bad news today as well that my lungs are much worse, but I know we both can continue to fight and we will win the war”. You then ask Melissa if she wants to go with us outside to the fountain and we load Melissa up in her wheelchair and off we went. I think this story tells it all about what a kind, compassionate person you are and how you always put others before your own needs and wants.
Kim, I cannot adequately express how much we all love you and how much we will miss seeing those facial expressions of yours. The good news is that Ki Ki looks just like you and can give us those same facial expressions and the bad news is she also has that sharp tongue and attitude that we have come to know and love with you as well.
I saw this attitude in you when we were in San Diego on vacation when you were 16 and in Ki Ki the day of your passing. I had allowed you and Kandus to get a tattoo without talking to Kirby before hand to get his approval. This was the maddest I had ever seen Kirby in all the years of our marriage. Kandus has a fear of needles and I thought if I said okay on the place (low abdomen, out of sight), that she would probably never do it again in a more visible location. You had called your parents and you had their permission, but uncle Kirby was still very angry. I can still see you standing there with your hands on your hips telling Kirby that he wasn’t your dad and he needed to chill out and then you went off on a long walk. I can see us reminiscing in the hospital last week and I can still see you saying, “Sorry uncle Kirby”. I saw this attitude in Ki Ki when immediately after you passed Deron told her that mommy had gone to heaven and she said, “no she didn’t, she is right there!”
Deron, I hope you know how much I love you and appreciate what a great job you did taking care of Kim the last couple of months. Just know that Kirby and I will always be there for you and the kids and have faith that you will get through this horrible devastating ordeal and find happiness once again.
My dear sister, Nan, I have never seen a mother-daughter bond quite like yours and Kim’s and I know that you feel like your heart and soul has been ripped from your chest, but you must move on and accept that God needs Kim in heaven right now more than he needs her here with us. You are so blessed to have Scott and his children and Dylan and Ki Ki to love and take care of. Deron is going to need you and Joe so much and I know that if they can’t have their momma, you guys are the next best thing….how much fun you are going to have!!
God, now I want to talk to you….I would like to get Whitney Murphy Funeral Home out of my phone speed dial. If Whitney Murphy had a frequent flyer program, I should have a free funeral by now. I have organized and facilitated 3 funerals in the last 8 months and I think it is time for you to go to some other family to get people to help you up there! We have given you some of our best and we have had enough!!
Kim, it has been my honor and pleasure to be your aunt and most importantly, your friend. Say hello to my brother, Mike, the Old Folks, Keith and Smitty and I look forward to seeing you again in a place where there is no pain and suffering and beauty beyond belief.
Samantha Weatherbee (Close Friend)
Kimberly Marie Gwaltney became my friend simply because her brother takes way too long to style his hair & get ready to go somewhere. Because of that little happen stance alone I am blessed beyond measure, thank you Scotty!
Kim & I ate grilled cheese sandwiches & tater tots at her work, made 11 pm runs to Safeway to get ice cream & Mother's bite size chocolate chip cookies, buckled a truck bumper on a huge rock, that should never had been put there I assure you, oh and please don't tell Mr. Gwaltney that's what really happened the parking lot story is working perfectly!
I got to help teach her to drive stick shift in my car, so she could drive Scotty's new eclipse before he could learn how to drive it, her words not mine! We worked out together, went shopping together, fought her mom's cancer together, we ate 3 rolled tacos with Nan after Midnight Mass, help to plan her wedding to Deron, carpooled to work together when she was pregnant with Dylan, and were late to work together A LOT! when she was pregnant with Dylan! I found Kimmy as a Catalyst for LIFE & these are just a few of the wonderful experiences I shared with her!
Shortly after Kimberly became Mrs. Deron Miller she honored me by being my Matron of Honor in my wedding. Little did we know the role she would play in my marriage, walk with God, or that I agreed to move to as she called it "Mexico" after my wedding!
Throughout Kimmy's valiant fight with colon cancer my prayer for her was that God would give us a miracle of healing so Kimmy's experience & strength would stand as a testament to Gods Power & Love! Prayers are answered in ways we do not always foresee.
As I stand here & look out at all of you I see God has granted my prayer, he has healed her souls suffering & her testimony of his Power & Love are spoken by all of us now & in the days to follow. Kim's Joy & Grace is what drew us to her, but her Love & Light keeps us together! I find these qualities written in Matthew Chapter 5: Verses 14 -16
"You are the light of the world” - like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp & then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.
Kimberly Miller always had an ear to listen, words of support, & an understanding way to accept you as you came, FREE from Judgment! I believe this is shown in Just the number of people that call her friend & how many looked on her as their BEST- Friend! In all the world I believe you could not find another person with so many!It is because of the Light & Love she casts into our lives, her Faith in all things & the testimony that God does give us Strength, Mercy & sees us through all of our Days!
Kim's FAITH comforts me in so many ways, & what stands out the most is when faced with immeasurable obstacles it is Kimberly Millers Faith that never wavered! Her spunk stood out, from her French Fry Nibbling to her reminders that "Secrets Don't Make Friends"!
Kim would stand & fight, she took on every challenge with Love, Honor, Strength, Grace, & the Knowledge that God was right there with her. As it is written in Matthew Chapter 5: Verses 4, 7 - 8
God blesses those who mourn, for they will be Comforted. God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown Mercy. God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for THEY WILL SEE GOD! I have Peace knowing Kimmy rests in the hands of our Lord God in Heaven, I am BLESSED because I can call her Friend, & I have Hope because I see all Kim's wonderful qualities in her Children: Kyrstin, Dylan, Deanna, & Daniel, Husband, Family & Friends!
Natalie Montez (Close Friend)
When I think back of all the memories I have of Kim, I always think of the first time I met Kim, and the impression I got of her. Just like all of the other athletes Kim played with, I'm sure our first memories of meeting Kim are the same. Kim was either half naked or fully naked!!! Sorry to put you on blast Kim, but I'm sure you don't mind! It amazed me how confident this girl was! Not just with her sports, but with her life in general! We, Kim's friends, would also often find her putting her make up on and doing her hair, naked! Kim never got intimidated and never let any obstacle get in her way! Not even this battle with cancer. She took on the news she received in October of 2008, and was ready to fight! After her first round of Chemo, at Mayo, Erin and I sat there and talked with her for a while. She said, “I've never said why me... Why the heck NOT me!?” Erin and I knew that this was the beginning of her fearless-brave battle! She is so amazing! Not only being physically strong, Kim was incredibly mentally strong!!! She prepared herself to birth her two children all natural! That means, NO MEDS! I have to say that it didn't completely shock me that she was able to do it, but that it only made me respect her even more with how strong she is!
I can go on and on with stories of how impressive and accomplished Kim lived her life, but at this time, I would like to focus more on this past year. Kim defined her life more than ever, and I will always stand amazed when I remember her. The past 10 months went by so fast! Along with all of her friends and family, I feel so honored and blessed to have been able to see her so much! Especially over the past 3 months. My favorite days were my “Kimmy days”. I feel so blessed and lucky that I was able to change my work schedule, to be able to see Kim everyday! The few days I couldn't make it were the days that were filled with complete anxiety, and stress. All I could think about was being at the hospital with Kim. She brought me peace! And she always found ways to make everyone laugh and lighten up! Every visit was the same. You finally get to the hospital and park your car. Then the walk from the parking lot to the building took forever! Thank goodness she was only on the 2nd floor, so it was a short elevator ride! But then you turn the corner and get hit by “the longest hallway ever” !!!! I remember always trying to act like I was calm and trying to walk slow, but probably looked like I was in a race with 20 other people!! You finally reached the end of the hallway, and get to turn the corner and see room #213! And there she was! There was our Kimmy! If she was awake, you would faithfully hear her famous sounding “hellooooo”! It was only then, when my heart would stop racing, and I could finally relax! I can honestly say, I became addicted to loving and serving Kim. It was the only thing I wanted to spend my days doing. I will always cherish my time I had with her, just like all the others who were able to visit her.
The last few days of Kimmy’s life were some of the most spiritual days I've ever experienced! Thank you to Kim's family for letting us (Erin, Randi, and Laura), to be a part of Kims life, especially during the past 3 months! We feel as we are a part of the family now! Thank you for loving and accepting us, as Kim would! August 26th, was a hard day for Kimmy. Everyone knew something was up and things were taking a turn for the worse. Deron and Aunt Karrie told me to make some calls to those family and friends that they wanted at the hospital. When everyone had arrived, I will never forget how powerful it felt to have everyone’s love for Kim all in the one room! No one wanted to leave Kim’s side. And we didn't! There were about 20-25 of us all night scattered around her bedside. Sleeping upright in chairs, or on the floor halfway on top of each other, just trying to stay close to Kim (us volleyball girls felt at home for we grew up sleeping on wood floors at tournaments in the gym). I still have a clear vision of Uncle Mitch curled up in a ball on a small couch, and his Fireman boots lying on the floor in front of him. Kim's entourage was EVERYWHERE! We owned the second floor of the CTCA! I would give anything to be able to be right back on that wood floor in room 213, just to hear her breathe! I don't think CTCA knew what they were dealing with! The Doctors and Nurses were so incredible! They fell in love with Kim, and knew what a special girl she was, and understood why we didn't want leave her side!
The day of her passing was bitter sweet! I feel I had witnessed one of the most spiritual things in my life! When Kim knew she was done, she let us know. That experience was so special, and I am so grateful I got to share that with her, and her friends and family! She was so brave! She was ready to go to her Father in Heaven. And with Grace she did.....She fought with confidence and dignity, and never gave up! She will forever be my hero! Robyn McDowell, one of Kim's college coaches, sent me a text that gave me immediate peace. “Kim had to go through almost a of year of pain on and off, It's better that we have the pain now, rather than her”
It was an honor to have photographed Kim's life over the past 10 years! She was one of my most faithful favorite clients! I told Kim that she was my #1 fan! And I truly believe she was! Thank you for always believing in me Kim! I love you! Scott and Cheryl said that Kim is still my #1 fan up in Heaven, and that they will gladly take over down here! Thank you Scott and Cher! I love you so much!
I would like to leave you with one of the things Kimmy always said, at least 2 times a day!!! It was said when “you thought” she wasn't listening to you, or when she just couldn't hear you, and had to make sure we knew she wanted to know what was being said! With her cute little sassy attitude... she would say, “Secrets don't make friends”.
We love you Kim! We will miss you every day, but we are so happy you are healthy and strong again!