A Chicken Story

It’s been four years since Kim left. She didn’t want to leave and I didn’t want her to go, so we left it at that.

“Will you leave me something in your will? No one’s ever left me anything—mainly because most in my family didn’t have much to leave anyone, so just once,” I said, “I’d like to inherit something.”

kim-heddyWe were sitting in the shade of Kim’s back yard, crunching thin slices of apples with jack cheese. There were times when she didn’t have the energy to do much, so I’d wander over (we lived three blocks from one another) to keep her company and make her laugh. And there were a couple of times I stalked over to drag her off the couch to go outside for a walk because she was freaked out, hiding under a blanket all day. The corner at the end of her block was a long way for her to go, so she’d take my arm and we’d take our time, and we both felt better afterwards. This day happened to be a good day and we were swapping sex, drugs, and rock and roll stories. Kim had a fascinating past: her dad produced television shows so she knew a lot of stars and did some acting as a kid; then she became a flower child and traveled all over Europe in a VW van, then lived on the little island of Formentera. Her stories were WAY more interesting than mine, and we laughed until our teeth rattled loose. We promised one another we’d never tell a soul and take the stories to our graves; no one needed that much information about either of us. Ever.

So Kim says, “What would you like?”

“I’ve been thinking about it. I’d like one of your chickens.”

kitchen chicken

She had a collection of ceramic, metal, and wooden fowl in her kitchen, all pretty cute. Trish, our friend, co-worker, gardening, and interior decorator queen who helped Kim and Dan also design their remodel on Patten Street, had found a few of them for her.

“And if I go before you, which is a possibility but not likely considering the circumstances,” I said, “what would you like of mine?” She said she’d think about it. Then we rambled on about our parents, siblings, kids, and grandchildren, about being Jewish and Catholic, about books and food and work. Then we had ice cream.

A few months later Kim’s lung cancer returned with a vengeance. On the bad days we’d just sit together, the weight of it all too heavy for either of us to carry by ourselves. We didn’t talk about her dying as she had no intention of doing so, but my friend was sensible and had her affairs in order, just in case. I wasn’t about to rain on her parade by having any death conversations and anyway, she simply wasn’t going to go there. I didn’t want her to leave either, but I also did not want her to suffer so, and from where I sat, things weren’t looking good. It was the inability to breathe, the fluid in her lungs, and the pain in her back that caused most of her suffering. She ended up back in the hospital, where I got to be with her two more times. The second time I knew would be the last, and she passed the next day. Neither of us said good-bye. Not aloud anyway.

Two days after she died, her husband Dan called. “I’m lying here in bed, reading Kim’s will. It’s interesting. She left you something.”

“Really,” and after a puzzled pause I asked, “What?”

“She left you a chicken. It says, ‘Catherine and Trish, pick a chick. Why would she leave you two a chicken?”

I smiled, “Because she loved us.” How perfect that she got the last laugh.

Kim’s chicken, holding upper center court in my kitchen window.

Kim Heddy Memorial 1946-2012

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  1. Maggie Bafalon says:

    You have a fabulous gift and I’m glad to have a chance to benefit from hearing your words! I will never forget the writing you shared with our MLS group…I couldn’t believe you could get them all out without crying…when I was doing just that. Thank you for the great example of your friendship. I have a friend like this too, and I’m grateful…to you both. Maggie

  2. Brock Arner says:

    Brought tears to my eyes. I have turned into such a softy it is embarrassing. What a friendship the two of you shared.

    • We did share a great friendship and I miss her dearly; she added so much to my life. I don’t remember ever being mad at her. I remember her being mad at me a few times, but she always marched in and we talked it through.

  3. RENEA MAGNANI says:

    Such a lovely story of your dear friend. I know Dan a bit and knew Kim a little. I love this story. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Donna Naquin says:

    Beautiful story, Catherine. I can hear your “voice” in every word. It sounds an authentic note that is just so touching. I loved the telling. Donna

  5. Cindy Craig says:

    What is it about chickens? And smiles? And friendships? They just seem to go together. You certainly wove them together beautifully.

  6. Francina Richardson says:

    Kim was a hardy soul and a good and loyal friend. I miss her. Thanks for reminding me of those walks, her couch with her blanket and her chicken collection! She left behind her kindness and slowly growing smile, I can still see it. Thanks Catherine, Francina

  7. What an awesome story, and beautifully written and told.

  8. I love knowing this about you and Kim and I’m thinking it is the anniversary of her death about now. The chicken makes me smile. It’s funny but I can remember thinking that I never got willed anything either. Then my mother’s mother died and my grandmother Louise (my middle name) gave me some $$ and I used it to go to graduate school when I left my Hospice position ~ also the first time I didn’t have to beg, borrow and work for $$ to go to college. Still picturing you and Kim up close. xo Carole

  9. I love this story, Catherine. Kind of puts inheritances in perspective! And love the humor and affection in it. Thanks!

  10. Oh Catherine you know how to tell a story. Just what I needed this morning. I should have a copy of your book in my mailbox when I get home.

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