My Friend Kim Heddy

Kim joined our office as an agent in 1994. As it turned out we had a lot in common: we both loved real estate, ice cream, and dark chocolate. In 2002 she became a partner in my real estate practice: she took over showing property to my clients, which meant I no longer got lost wandering around town looking for streets that were never where I remembered them, organized much of the paperwork, and dealt with the details of short sales when they became the bane of our existence.

Kimmy was diplomatic, charming, and easygoing. The one thing in her way was her indecisiveness, but she made up for it with her determination and spunk. It just wasn’t Kim’s nature to be decisive. “I can’t help it that I’m wishy-washy,” she told me, “I’m a Libra.” As our offices adjoined, I could hear her talking to clients. I’d roll my eyes and wonder how she ever nudged anyone to make a decision. The difficulty in making up her mind could take hold of her, even in mundane choices. Shopping was fraught with internal conflict, so she returned much of what she bought. She admitted once that what she liked most about shopping was returning everything. During the holidays a couple of seasons ago, the back of her SUV was crammed with boxes.

“What is all this stuff?” I asked her.
“I’m taking it all back to the store.”
“Why?”
“I don’t know, I couldn’t decide if any of it was really what I wanted.”

It worked out perfectly for me. I did my Christmas shopping right there in our parking lot.

For ten years, Kim and I were joined at the hip. We made a great team, filling in one another’s gaps; I kept her on course and she kept me on track. Many mornings she’d call from the office and always ask the same thing, “What are you doing?” In the middle of family research on Ancestry or Find A Grave, I’d answer, “I’m working on dead people,” and she’d bark back, “Get down here. They’re dead. They’ll wait.”

Then life took a sharp turn. In June of 2011, Kim was diagnosed with Stage IV lung45619_390927744340299_1138569432_n cancer. Her first doctor sent her home with no hope and very little time. A second doctor said, “Wait a minute. You’re young, healthy, and in great shape—you fight this!” She followed that advice, dumping her first doctor. A combination of chemo, daily injections, rounds of doctors, batteries of tests, bottles of pills, tanks of oxygen, prayers, holy water, bodywork, herbal remedies, food from friends, buckets of love, and a fair amount of laughter—along with her great spunk, mettle, and optimism—had Kim outlive the first doctor’s projections by more than a year.

Kim & Catherine, 2012 C21 Convention New Orleans

Kim & Catherine, 2012
C21 Convention New Orleans

In those months, she recovered enough to return to work. She wasn’t kickboxing, but her breathing was better and her color and smile had returned. She ventured to the Century 21 Annual Convention in New Orleans, enjoyed her sixty-fifth and sixty-sixth birthdays, and with her husband Dan took an Alaskan cruise and celebrated their nineteenth wedding anniversary. She was able to be with her children and grandchildren to celebrate birthdays and holidays. And every afternoon she slowly swam with Dan in the warm water of their lap pool, enjoying the hummingbirds hovering in the yard and watching the same two crows holding court on the branch of their flowering cherry.

Then the cancer spread. The pain in her bones and the inability to breathe sent her back to the hospital where for three weeks her family stayed with her around the clock. I saw Kim twice in her last week. On my final one, we had time alone while the family conferred with doctors. I sat as close as I could without disturbing anything as she was hooked up to monitors, an IV, and had two oxygen contraptions on her face.

“Tell me what’s going on at the office,” she said. I leaned in closer to hear her. “What happened at the meeting today? Did you get the names of the mentor families for the Thanksgiving dinners? And after a long pause, “and my view clients, did you reach them?” Kim’s labored breathing, the oxygen mask, and her small continuous cough made it hard to understand her, and her talking made her cough worse. I told her everything and everyone was taken care of, not to fret.

She faded in and out over the next hour. Then came a moment when she looked straight at me. In a small, clear voice she said, “There’s dark chocolate here in the room. Want some?”
“Yeah,” I said. “How about you, you want some?”
“Yeah,” she whispered back.

I broke off a small piece. Kim struggled to get the chocolate past her mask, and I gently wiped off the leftover smudges on her fingers. We closed our eyes and as heaven melted in our mouths I thought: when I’m dying, I hope that the last thing that passes my lips will be a piece of good dark chocolate.

I knew this was the last time I would be with her, but neither of us could say goodbye. She didn’t want to leave and I didn’t want her to go, so we left it at that. Two days later, on the eighth of November 2012, my friend Kim took a final breath, quietly slipping out of this life.

Kim Heddy: Find A Grave Memorial

 

 

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