Monday, September 7, 2009

Kim's Final Day as Written by Dear Friend, Randi

I have been asked many times the last week what happened with Kim in her final hours and then I read the attached review of what we all experienced and thought I would post it to share with all of you. This is very painful and emotional for those of us who were there and lived it, but it again displays the kind of person Kim was and how she didn't want to give up the fight and should be an inspiration to all in what perserverance is all about.

The writer below is Randi who was one of Kim's best friends. Randi is a detective for the Phoenix Police Department and is an incredible person and writer (as you will see when you read her writings). Randi lost her mother to colon cancer when she was a teenager and connected with Kim on that level too. Randi lost her husband about nine years ago, so she and Deron have been able to build a bond that many others could never understand.

Here is Randi's story:

I have been waiting to post something about Kim's passing until I thought the hurt had died down a bit, so I didn't write some tragic sob story. I'm not sure what I will write, but it may be an emotional mini-drama...and YES- I'm fine. I'm sorry if this is too much, but this is my journal, so...I guess I'm not really sorry...plus I wrote this a week ago on 08/29, but didn't post it until now because I'm a slacker...

On Wednesday (08/26/09) afternoon, I received the phone call I have been dreading since the one I received October 20th, 2008. I saw Natty's number on my caller ID and my heart sunk, my pulse raced...I already knew what she was going to say. The news so far on Wednesday hadn't been great, and Kim had obviously been going downhill for some time. I answered and Natty said, "You need to get here now...she won't make it through the night."

This is something I have been preparing myself for, so I didn't expect the rush of emotion that came over me. I stood up at my desk and started to shake. I had driven my city truck to work, so I was immediately wondering how I could get to the hospital without getting suspended, fired, etc... I walked to Gina's desk and she knew what was wrong. She picked up her purse without questioning and she drove me to the hospital...I was still shaking. I hate when my body doesn't listen to what I'm telling it.

Deron had given security a list of those he wanted to be present. After I was cleared to go up, I ran upstairs. I got to Kim's room, got around the privacy curtain and saw my dear friend fighting harder than she ever had. She looked awful; she looked like my mother had in her final moments on this Earth.

Kim's breathing was very shallow and she was on quite a bit of oxygen...she was sedated, but came around once or twice. She woke up while her Uncle Mitch & I were next her. She wanted to know why EVERYONE was there...she even wanted to what we were keeping from her. Uncle Mitch & several other family members are Phoenix Firefighters...they were on duty, so they came in uniform. I was there in my work clothes, Laura was there in her scrubs (she's a nurse), EVERYONE was there.

Uncle Mitch assured her that we didn't know anything she didn't know, which was true. On Monday Kim had a PET scan. The results were not positive; the cancer had spread and was in nearly every organ...her lungs we not doing well, lymph nodes, etc. The day prior, I had the honor of holding Kim's hand when Deron told her the results of that scan. He told her based on the results, she could go home and spend time with her babies, or we could continue with chemo. He explained that since Kim re-started chemo in April/May, the cancer had not reacted to it. The cancer had continue to grow/spread and the chemo wasn't helping.

True to form, Kim said she wanted to do chemo. Deron said he would support her in either decision...Kim said she wanted to fight. There was no hesitation in Kim's decision...she didn't question it or even think about it. She just said she wanted to fight.

An agreement was made that Kim would go home on Friday, Saturday & Sunday for some much needed time with her kids and return Monday morning to start chemo. But by Wednesday, they needed to drain her lungs again and Dr. Abass said he did not believe she would make it through the night. It was getting harder and harder for her to breathe and the quality of her life was less than poor. Kim was suffering. This we knew, but I don't think anyone was ready for it to be over.

I was honored to be able to be in that room Wednesday night. After we went home, showered, changed and returned, we ALL layed on the wood floor around Kim's bed. Some slept, I played my DS, there was a snorer in the room, so that was the end of my sleep. Uncle Mitch slept on the couch at the end of the hall...pants and boots ready for his next radio call...or his niece's call.

We were all up by 5:30 or 6 o'clock...Kim's breathing was still very shallow and her heart rate was still high. We walked down with Nan (Kim's mom) and got breakfast...I got a cherry coke and Richelle's friend (my friend too!!) Peggy brought us all the BEST donuts on the planet!! We ALL enjoyed those ALL day.

The day progressed slowly, and Kim's condition was still grave. She was heavily sedated and still in pain. When she would cough, she would reach her right hand over to hold her left side where they had drained her lungs. It was awful to watch, to hear, to know...she was suffering.

The decision was made to take Kim off of the oxygen and to just let her go home. Kim was still determined to have things HER way. The first time her oxygen was reduced, she wasn't ready to go. Her mask was placed back on her face & she continued those shallow,painful breaths.

A short time later, Kim opened her eyes, looked at each of us and took her mask off. She pushed the hands away of people trying to put the mask back on her face. She was done. She was finally done suffering. Kim was finally done, but on her terms, not ours.

We watched as Kim took her final few breaths. It was peaceful. It was calm. Kim died at 2:21pm on August 27, 2009. It was much needed relief for Kim. She had carried the burden long enough, it was time to pass the torch.

I was holding up better than I thought I would...I was truly at peace with everything. And then I saw Deron's face. A rush of emotion came over me...I KNEW that look. I've had it myself. The ache in my gut for him was nearly unbearable. I turned around, away from the agony...when I opened my eyes I was looking out the window. The only thing I could see was Kim's SUV and her license plate, "MRSMLLR".

Now I was at the point of not knowing what to think, where to look, what to feel, etc. I went out in the hall and sat down. I called Mike and he said he would come. I wanted to scream...I had prepared myself as best I could & it still hurt deep in my bones that she was actually gone.

After an hour or two, the mortuary arrived to take Kim's body. I walked in the room to tell Deron and what I saw broke my heart. I stood there and watched him loving his wife, his best friend...trying to feel her warmth for every second he had left.

Deron was so amazing throughout this journey with Kim. This was the ultimate test of love and he passed with flying colors. He was her rock. There for anything and everything she could want for.

I ache for Deron. For that look of defeat on his face, holding the love of his life one last time...holding her hand, touching her arm...I'm sure he was begging God not to let this be reality.

It's so unfair...the look is a look I know & the worst part is, he doesn't even know how bad it hurts yet. That will come in a few days, weeks, months...as his life continues without her in his daily routine...for the kids' milestones, etc.

On the other hand, I am so thrilled for Kim. She is at peace and finally understands why this was her burden to carry. Back in July, Kim told me, "I'm not ready to meet your mom."

I was speechless then...but when I kissed her goodbye for the last time, I told her thank you for what she had given to my life and that I loved her more than she could know. There is so much Kim taught me. Her strength is incredible and she never rested until she was #1. Her talents were amazing and the love she was able to give was intangible. Her beauty was from within and she always made us laugh. I've never known anyone like Kim...I've never seen anyone light up a room the way she did so effortlessly.

After my efforts to ensure Kim knew what she meant to me in this life, I told her, "I think you're ready to meet my mom."

Thank You Randi and God Bless You for sharing your story and for being such a good friend to Kim and Deron.

Aunt Kathy

3 comments:

Nancy said...

WOW....what a totally awesome woman...I am from Texas and have been following Kim's blog on behalf of my niece Michelle.I also just went through losing my brother in law to cancer.I was there taking care of him the last month of his life.I also was there the night God took him home.The strength of the family shows the love you all have.You are blessed and Kim was so blessed.I pray you continue her work and know that if I can do anything to spread her message I will.God Bless you all. nancy abrams

TheOne said...

I wanted to thank you for posting this. I have been reading Kim's blog since I saw her on the news right after her diagnosis. I was shocked and overcome with emotion when I read of her passing. I had so many questions... in this post I can put some closure to my questions about her last moments. Kim has taught me a lot through out her journey. Her legacy and spirit will continue to help me through my life.

"SwissMiss" said...

This was very well written, I am a volunteer with the Southern Utah Hospice care, and I have seen and experience this so many times... including my own mother.....When I read this, I felt like I was in the room right with Kim.... God Bless all of you and our prayers are with you all... thank you for sharing such private and emotional moment ...
Her life will follow us and helped us all not to take things for granted.....