I'm sharing the story about my friendship with Kim because I feel that it's one worth sharing, and I also feel that it will be therapeutic to help me work through the grief as I deal with this huge loss.
Who would believe me if I told you that I met Kim online about a year & a half ago, but that I felt like I'd known her forever and that we had developed a deep bond and friendship that I will cherish forever? I almost feel like the fact that we met online takes away from the validity of the friendship by the average person. I know that when I got back to work today after learning of the devastating news of her death that I only told my boss that I'd lost a dear friend. How could I tell him that I'd lost a friend that I'd met online less than two years ago and justify the fact that I was barely able to hold it together for the rest of the day? He would think I was nuts.
If you're reading my blog chances are you are a regular on the internet, blogs and forums and you can possibly relate to internet friendships, but if not, it doesn't really matter. I'm not trying to validate or justify the friendship, just trying to give you the history of where things started.
Kim and I were true crime buffs and we both frequented a blog that mainly covered the Laci Peterson muder. We were both from Texas and both posted on this blog. We exchanged a few emails because we found that we had things in common, but at that point we were only acquaintances. Then I learned from the blog that her mother had passed away last August and I sent her an email telling her how sorry I was for her loss. She didn't reply for several weeks because she was so distraught from her loss. I received a thank you email from her and she told me what a hard time she was having dealing with her mom's death. I simply emailed her with words of comfort and concern. I had not walked in her shoes but I could sympathize with her loss and so I did. We began corresponding regularly. We were both so much alike in our detailed and long emails, worrying whether we'd written too much and bored the other, but feeling the need to unload or share things as the friendship was growing, wanting to share stories from our pasts, getting to know one another, etc. We often joked that we'd turned an email into a therapy session, or a journaling exercise and both admitted to saving emails as drafts after realizing they'd almost become books, and being leary of actually sending for fear of boring the other to tears. But as time wore on that fear faded and those long emails became the norm. We shared more than you can imagine. She was coming out of her depression, though she would still have her down moments from time to time. She let me vent and cry to her when my husband's sister was dying of cancer at the young age of 36, leaving behind 7 children ages 11 to 18 months. She read my long emails as I questioned why God was letting this happen, and as I worried about my father-in-law, brother-in-law, the kids and my husband dealing with the inevitable loss. She emailed regularly to ask about her condition and how we were and by this time we'd begun talking on the phone, too. She knew all about my kids, my husband, family and friends and I knew about hers. She told me she felt like we were kindred spirits and I had to agree. You know, one of those friends that truly cares about you, and you truly care about and trust. Did we need a 20 year history to share the bond that we did? No. When I learned of Kim's death today I was shattered. I was devastated, shocked, saddened, grief stricken and numb. I hurt all over.
We used to have rainbow emails. These were emails where we'd reply in a different color font to the original email. I'd have to comment to something she'd said so I'd change font and reply to her sentence or paragraph. Then she'd do the same. It was like having a flowing conversation and after 4-5 colors it would get so long we'd be forced to start fresh.
In recent months we'd not had our rainbow emails but we were still communicating regularly. I'd been extrememly busy with my oldest daughter's graduation and she had some things going on, too. We'd slowed down on the long emails but not the frequency of communications. We'd rarely go longer than 3-4 days without at least a hello, hope things are well, this is what's happening here. sorry to be so brief, busy, blah, blah, but we kept in touch. Then we'd manage a phone call or long email and we kept in touch, both interested and concerned about the other's life's. It was always a pleasure to see that I had mail from Kim. I looked forward to each and every time I heard fom her. We had developed a bond and connection that was special and a friendship that I am grateful for. She touched my heart and I only hope I touched hers.
We finally met in person over Easter weekend and she was just as awesome in person as I'd expected. It was so nice to finally get together.
I received my last email from Kim on June 14th, the same night that she died. She was caring, kind and concerned as always, asking how I was feeling after a week long struggle with a migraine. I'd emailed her to whine about how bad I was feeling and to let her know why I'd been MIA for several days. and it was one of several replies to that email. She said she would pray for me and that if she lived closer she'd come right over and bring any meds she had. I recently changed jobs and my insurance doesn't kick in until July 1st and I was on the verge of a visit to the ER. What a friend! I emailed her back Thursday & Friday a few times and let her know I was okay, back at work, etc. I thought it was odd when I hadn't heard back on Friday but assumed she was just busy. We left town for the weekend, ironically went to the lake house, which is where Kim and I met back in April. It was half way for both of us, between Houston and Austin. Anyhow (see, this is a long story but she would've read every word and loved it!) I was really worried when I had no emails back by Monday. I thought something was wrong. I thought she might be down, emotionally, maybe a set back from her battle with her recent depression or that someone close to her might be ill, but that something was probably wrong. The following are my emails to her from Mon-Wed:
This one from Monday, and chilling to me now. Of course I never thought the worst.
just a fly by but checking in...................no need to write much but can you type "I am alive"????
I know how hectic life gets but usually hear at least a holler every couple of days.............and haven't. so, just worrying!
then this on Tuesday:
I'll try to call you tomorrow. I feel like something is wrong. I'll call during lunch. I hope it's nothing but you being busy!
then these on Wednesday, after I'd left a voice mail on her home and cell phones in the afternoon.
Ok, getting really worried about you now. I just tried your cell but was afraid it was too late to call the house. Just shoot me a quick email if you get this.....................and let me know you're ok!
and my last email sent at 11pm last night, as I had a sick feeling in my stomach when I got home and still hadn't heard from Kim via telephone or email.
after the 2 messages & my worried emails since the19th, and no word from you since the 14th..........i'm scared to call the house this late but tempted.
prayers for you & that nothings wrong. thinking of you.
pls write asap if you get this.
I had my phone ready to call her several times this morning from work but would get interrupted. I was going to call during lunch. I got a call from her area code just as I left for lunch, but it wasn't her home or cell. Still, I grabbed the phone, fully expecting to hear her voice and an explanation as to her absence. I was bracing myself, hoping she hadn't suffered another loss of anyone close to her, a family tragedy or that she wasn't sick, etc. I knew something was wrong, but I never, ever expected to receive the devastating news that Kim had passed away from her husband Paul who was on the other end of the phone. She was a vibrant, healthy 42 year old.
Paul identified himself, and asked if I knew who he was. We'd spoken once when I'd called the house and once when Kim and I'd had our face to face meeting. Her cell phone wasn't working at the lake and we had no idea anyone had been trying to reach her. Just as we'd pulled out to leave to return home for the weekend my phone rang and a worried Paul was on the other end asking me if I knew where Kim was. I could hear the panic in his voice. After all, she'd gone off to meet a person she'd met on the internet. How dangerous could that be? I pulled over and told her to call him as soon as she got reception and we parted ways once we got to the highway. We laughed about how worried he'd been and what a hard time my kids had given me about meeting a friend from the internet. They just didn't "get it"!
I knew immediately when I heard Paul's voice that something was wrong but was still expecting news such as Kim was sick, hospitalized, had an appendicitis, or something along those lines. Then his words echoed in my ears. Kim had passed away. I fell apart and sobbed as he told me that she'd gone to sleep and never woke up. The coroner said it was a heart arrythmia thing, or irregular heart beat that happened and her heart never recovered or got back on track and it killed her instantly. Paul tried to wake her when she didn't respond to their alarm clock as usual. He is still devastated and hurting and I'm hurting for him. I hurt all over. He apologized for not calling sooner. He was a wreck and would've had to dig for my contact info. Of course he had more important things on his mind and I completely understand.
My husband told me tonight that he knows how much I'm hurting, that he knows how close we were, and how much she meant to me. After months of seeing those long rainbow emails and a few 3 plus hour phone conversations between us, and her name filling up my inbox, he said he totally "gets it" . He knows that I lost someone near and dear to my heart. He knows that we were kindred spirits and that I am going to miss her immensely. I lost a piece of my heart today but I'm so grateful that I had the opportunity to get to know this beautiful person and for all of the things we shared in the short amount of time that we had.
Kim, I will miss you so much. I hope you and your mom are having a blast and that you got to meet Jamie. You will always have a place in my heart. I love you. I just can't stop crying.
Link to a tribute page from her former job, with her big smile, that says it all: