Kim joined our office as an agent in 1994. As it turned out we had a lot in common: we both loved real estate and dark chocolate. In 2002 she became a partner in my 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.
For 10 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, 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 lung 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.
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 and her husband Dan took an Alaskan cruise and celebrated their 19th 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 visit, we had time alone while the family conferred with doctors. I sat as near as I could without disturbing anything as she was hooked up to monitors, an IV, and 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 take care of my view clients?” Kim’s labored breathing, the oxygen mask, and her small continuous cough made it hard to understand her, and 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 a bit of good dark chocolate passes my lips.
I knew this was the last time I’d 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, Kim took a final breath, quietly slipping out of this life.