In Memory of Kay Kim's Blogs

My Sister’s Funeral & E.E. Cummings


Kay’s Stone in Row E E

 

—–How do you plan a rebirth? I’m not sure you do. You just stand in the darkness until you can’t endure it any longer, and then you move forward until you’re standing in the light.” –Ahmir Q. Thompson

 

When the devil executed my sister, it was like any other day.

 

I was mowing the lawn, listening to Ken Follett’s, Pillars of the Earth on my headset. I was at the part where the young boys in the castle were throwing rocks at poor, innocent cats just because they could. I was baking mandarin chicken in the oven for dinner. The sun was warm and luminous upon my face.

 

I received the call at 5:15 PM. “Did you hear…did you know…He-he shot…Mike killed Kay?”

 

At that instant, the sun splattered to the ground producing ugly, yellow puddles. I dropped to my knees, lost my breath, my saliva, and something from somewhere within my core reserved for moments like those, punched me directly in the pit of my stomach

 

Oh, God, God, God help me.”

 

I was wearing a red tank top with Lady Gaga on it and Old Navy shorts. My hair was in a tight bun on top of my head. Why do I reflect on irrelevant, insignificant things? Was this part of the mourning process, the numbing process, where I was supposed to remain unbroken, not place my head inside an oven, or deposit rocks inside my pockets to drown myself in Lake Superior?

 

One is never equipped for something of this magnitude, this huge transformation. I recall thinking, why doesn’t God give warning, blow trumpets, fire lightening, send verses, prepare us for these horrendous disasters before they happen.

 

However, looking back now, I see He did.

 

A couple months before my sister’s murder, we had gone to a film called, “In Her Shoes,” a book originally published by Jodi Picoult. One sister recited a poem, I Carry You In My Heart by E.E. Cummings to her younger sister at a family gathering.

Our darling, Kay.

 

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in

my heart)i am never without it(anywhere

i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done

by only me is your doing, my darling)

 

 

I nudged Kay hard in the ribs and said, “You will be reading that at my funeral.”

 

She smiled, almost knowingly, “No, you will be reading it at mine.”

 

As you probably figured out already, I read the poem at her funeral, or at least, I was told I did by several people who were there. I can’t seem to recollect much about the day of her funeral, except an insidious heaviness of a million sad stones and standing at the church podium with my girlfriend, Tia, as if I were dead, too. Incase you didn’t know, one can still take breaths inside an abyss.

 

I had to go to Kohl’s to buy a dress. Why did a dress matter when my sister had been murdered? Inside my mind, or was it outside my mind, I continued repeating, “My sister is dead. My sister is dead,” as if I couldn’t believe it myself, as if I had to remind myself of this new, absurd, inconceivable, shitty life that was thrust on me, my family, the universe.

 

While in the car, I asked my husband, “Did he really kill Kay? Is this happening?” When he answered yes, I wept like a baby all the way to our destination until he pulled into the parking lot.

 

Well, if this really happened,” I asked again. “How can I breathe, walk, talk, live? I don’t understand how everybody can keep moving, how the earth can keep spinning, how the clock can keep ticking.”

 

I’m here to tell you—It. Does. It does. It does.

 

The day of Kay’s funeral, the sun shone brightly in the sea-blue sky, the birds sang songs, orange butterflies floated in the garden, and the blood of my childhood flowed through my veins reminding me I was alive.

 

Still.

 

I sat at the mirror smearing on eyeliner, applied lipstick, brushed and sprayed my hair. I wore nylons because that’s what people are supposed to do, how people are supposed to dress. All for nothing. None of these stupid tasks made sense, had any meaning when my sister was almost in the ground.

 

So.

 

I recited the poem at her funeral instead of something by Kafka or Plath, which seemed more fitting, more melancholic, more real. Before I read, I gazed out into the crowd of people, so many people waiting, like blurred negatives of shadows and shapes. Some were blotting their cheeks with Kleenex, crying, staring at me with great pity, and presumably relieved I was standing there instead of them.

 

“My sister is dead.” I finally said. “Her husband killed her, and she is dead. And I don’t know where to go from here.”

 

We Will Carry Your Heart” was carved on the gray marble of Kay’s headstone. Who could’ve imagined how significant E.E. Cumming’s words would’ve been for us few months ago. Who could’ve imagined the man who ate Sunday dinners with us would, in the end, become a monster.

 

I couldn’t visit my sister’s grave for a long time, not in that place, not with her bones and face and long auburn hair buried inside that soil. But after several months, or was it years, I awakened from another sleepless night, turned to my husband and said, “I’m ready. I’m ready to go see Kay.”

 

We drove to Oneonta Cemetery early in the morning. We searched the long and winding paths, like the yellow brick road without a wizard to guide us—stone after stone, row after row, name after name. I couldn’t believe how many dead people were crowded together, like lost, lonely sisters.

 

Here,” I said. ”Stop. Here she is.” Next to her gravesite were pink hydrangeas’, scattered white daisies, notes of stationary paper with indistinct scribbling, and somebody had placed a “stop domestic violence” bracelet near the date of her death. It was beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time, like something light and dark mixed together.

 

Did you notice the row she’s in?” My husband asked. I looked past the lines of marble to the left corner of the little path and laughed when I saw the wooden sign. I’m not sure if this behavior could be characterized as a form of insanity, or the beginning of some sort of spiritual healing…

 

But I laughed, and I lifted my hands into the infinite blue sky because she, my beautiful sister, was in row E. E.

 

 

 

——Dear, Reader, how do you heal? Do you believe in God? If not, where do you get your strength?


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61 Comments

  • Reply
    Debbie
    August 28, 2017 at 7:42 am

    Kim, every time I read a post about your sister, I get chills. Yes, I do. You write so beautifully. I can’t fathom losing a loved one the way you lost Kay. However, I do believe God mercifully equips us for that which we need, when we need it. May His loving arms surround you and your family with comfort and care!

    • Reply
      My Inner Chick
      August 30, 2017 at 5:27 am

      Debbie,
      without God,
      well, I may not be here right now. xx

  • Reply
    Jennie Goutet
    August 28, 2017 at 8:47 am

    Oh my gosh – now way!!! She was in E.E. I’m choking up from the sadness and yet so lifted up by the beauty of your words.

  • Reply
    Lady Fi
    August 28, 2017 at 10:17 am

    Row E.E. – how very lovely!

  • Reply
    Angel
    August 28, 2017 at 10:53 am

    So poignant. I’ve always been so touched reading about your love for Kay, and your close relationship with her. I get it. I didn’t speak at my sister’s funeral. I wish I had, in a way. I wish I could have. But I couldn’t think of the right things, and I couldn’t breathe, anyway. I can barely breathe now, just thinking about it. I don’t know how people heal. I think I just keep moving forward, and some days I can do things, and talk about her like I’ve “healed”, and sometimes I can’t even think of a world without her in it without falling apart. I am so grateful that I do know God, so I can have faith that I will see her again.

    • Reply
      My Inner Chick
      August 30, 2017 at 5:30 am

      –Angel,
      I can’t believe I did either…and I do not remember reading…Kay must have been holding me up, or
      how could I walk, talk?
      Everything you wrote here, I understand.
      I’m hugging your right now. xxoo

  • Reply
    Barbara
    August 28, 2017 at 1:03 pm

    God works in mysterious ways. How fitting she would be in row E.E.
    I love your writing, Kim.
    xob

    • Reply
      My Inner Chick
      August 30, 2017 at 5:30 am

      Dear b,
      thank you, as always
      for your support)) xx

  • Reply
    Minnesota Prairie Roots
    August 28, 2017 at 2:17 pm

    This is the sentence that cut me to the core: Who could’ve imagined the man who ate Sunday dinners with us would, in the end, become a monster.

    Dearest Kim, your courage, your strength, your powerful writing amaze me. Every detail of this piece, down to the E.E., causes emotions to rise within and goosebumps to surface. Wow. You shall always be Kay’s voice and the voice of so many others. I appreciate you and your incredibly writing and unwavering faith.

    • Reply
      My Inner Chick
      August 30, 2017 at 5:31 am

      Audrey,
      your words give me hope) xx from Duluth.

  • Reply
    Elephants Child
    August 28, 2017 at 2:27 pm

    Heartfelt hugs and oceans of caring. Now and always.
    As you know I am not a believer. I heal (sort of) by putting one foot in front of the other. Even when I can’t.
    Hugs.

    • Reply
      My Inner Chick
      August 30, 2017 at 5:31 am

      –Yesssss, S,
      and sometimes living moment to moment)) xx

  • Reply
    Nan @ lbddiaries
    August 28, 2017 at 3:12 pm

    Your EE is kind of like the my mom’s Purple Iris. On the day of her funeral I went to her house afterward and for some reason went into the front yard. There in the flower bed in front of her house I discovered that all the purple iris had bloomed. It was way too early for them (months) and they had not been bloomed the day before. I can’t prove it was God letting me know everything was and would be OK but I like to think it was.

    • Reply
      My Inner Chick
      August 30, 2017 at 5:32 am

      God. Lives! xxx

      • Reply
        Robyn McCall
        August 31, 2017 at 9:45 pm

        SOMEthing does! I asked for a sign that my beloved was with me, ( my cat, don’t judge me) and I dreamt I had taken two ponytail holders from a locker that was empty in a workplace. I woke up the next morning and there were 2 ponytail holders on the counter. I definitely did not put them there.No one did.

  • Reply
    Terri Siegler
    August 28, 2017 at 4:19 pm

    My dearest Kim dear old friend, your heart is on your sleeve and I feel your pain. The words you put on to paper are amazing and I love reading what you write. Grief never goes away it might lessen with time but it never leaves you. I love you always my friend and do remember you talking about her when we were on CCL. Thank you for sharing your heart and emotions.

  • Reply
    Totally Caroline
    August 28, 2017 at 4:23 pm

    I heal because I have no choice. I need to survive, no matter what the hurt. I heal with time and kind words and observing all the beauty that still exists. I heal by believing in love, and goodness. And I trust.
    I love the synchronicity of the universe. Of course your sister couldn’t be in any other row.
    ❤️❤️❤️

    • Reply
      My Inner Chick
      August 30, 2017 at 5:33 am

      Caroline,
      Yes, no other choice… What are the choices?
      Row E E ( I hear Kay laughing, too! ) xx

  • Reply
    Kim Gagnon
    August 28, 2017 at 4:46 pm

    My Kimmy
    Love you always and forever ❤️

    • Reply
      My Inner Chick
      August 30, 2017 at 5:34 am

      –And I love you forever, as well, Kimmy. xx

  • Reply
    lisa thomson
    August 28, 2017 at 5:02 pm

    Of course, row E.E. Unbelievable. Perfect. I believe in God. I believe in signs but I don’t believe we understand them when they’re shown to us. I want to work on that exact thing—understanding signs or making sense of the senseless. This is beautiful, Kim. A beautiful tribute to Kay. xoxo

    • Reply
      My Inner Chick
      August 30, 2017 at 5:35 am

      Lisa,
      we will not know these signs until we are ready …. I agree!
      I just pray we are OPEN to SEEING, Hearing, Being Aware)) xxx kisssss

  • Reply
    Angie@Angie's Recipes
    August 29, 2017 at 1:55 am

    It saddens me every time I read your about sister, Kim. The bond you and your sister share is tender, loving and deep.

    • Reply
      My Inner Chick
      August 30, 2017 at 5:36 am

      Angie,
      Deep, profound, beautiful. Thank you for reading. xxx

  • Reply
    Marie Kléber
    August 29, 2017 at 7:07 am

    When I read you Kim, it breaks my heart and it fills it with hope at the same time. You have a way with words, with life, with love.
    E.E Cummings is perfect. It was meant to be Kim.
    I am sure Kay is smiling above, at peace and in our hearts forever.
    Love from accross the ocean

    • Reply
      My Inner Chick
      August 30, 2017 at 5:36 am

      Marie,
      Kay is SMILING.
      I know this to be true.
      Thank you for reading, support, love, and spurring me onward. xxxx

  • Reply
    Jeri
    August 29, 2017 at 7:56 am

    The heart should not have to experience such grief, but somehow people manage even when it feels unbearable. Even though I’m not a religious person, surely Kay being in row E. E. is fitting.

    • Reply
      My Inner Chick
      August 30, 2017 at 5:37 am

      After 7 years,
      I still find this AMAZING and Miraculous. xx

  • Reply
    Jodi
    August 29, 2017 at 8:44 am

    Love you!

  • Reply
    Sandra L Garth
    August 29, 2017 at 9:04 am

    “At that instant, the sun splattered to the ground producing ugly, yellow puddles.” Oh, Kim, you are such a gifted writer and I’m sending you lots of love and light.

    • Reply
      My Inner Chick
      August 30, 2017 at 5:38 am

      –I feel the light you are sending, Sandra)))))) xx back to you!

  • Reply
    Dana
    August 29, 2017 at 10:32 am

    Row ee – that gave me chills, although I had them through this whole piece. I believe in God, and I believe that God gives us ways to cope with the grief…writing is one of yours, and it is a gift for all of us who you share it with.

  • Reply
    Lisa Gordon
    August 29, 2017 at 2:26 pm

    Kim, when you write about Kay, I hang on every beautiful word, and each time my heart breaks for you. You are so strong, and you are truly an inspiration to all who have experienced such a horrific tragedy.
    Sending you hugs, sweet friend.
    xo.

  • Reply
    Mandy
    August 30, 2017 at 12:09 am

    Darling Kim, here I am shedding a few tears sitting in Pete’s office in Nairobi. Your words are beyond beautiful and heartfelt.
    I don’t actually know how we heal, I truly don’t. Do we not just get accustomed to a different way of living?
    Sending you much African love and hugs.
    🙂 Mandy xoxo

    • Reply
      My Inner Chick
      August 30, 2017 at 5:40 am

      Never complete healing, darling,
      only a new life, a new breath, a new perspective.

      xxx Love to you in Nairobi. HAVE FUN with your sweetheart. xxx

  • Reply
    Anna @ shenANNAgana
    August 30, 2017 at 10:18 pm

    Aahhhh, your words my friend, they speak just so elegantly the weird numb feelings when we are in that dark tunnel of grief and go through the motions. I think I like Mandy’s suggestion that perhaps we get accustomed to a different way of living and somehow the roar horror stays trapped in a different time, but it’s there always and the more we visit that space the more we can accept but never understand. Hugs and Love to you xx

    • Reply
      My Inner Chick
      August 31, 2017 at 6:03 am

      Always there…
      it becomes part of you, your core, your identity.
      Love back to you, dear Anna. xx

  • Reply
    Annette Connelly
    September 1, 2017 at 10:43 am

    I guess it depends what I’m healing from. Some things are easier than others as you know.

    Some days it’s gratitude. I try to find something to be grateful for. The end of this world. Christ coming back. Simple lovely things like a purring cat, prayer/meditation music with scripture.

    Waking from an recurring nightmare that I’m still with my ex-husband and I gave up Rik to be with him.
    I don’t understand the nightmare. But I’m always relieved when I wake up and reach over to touch Rik. Like WHEW! It was just a bad dream.

    This dream may cause you to chuckle, but if I go to sleep not wearing a top I always dream I’m baring my breasts in public. I recall one dream I was congregating in a kitchen with other women and suddenly realized I wasn’t wearing a top. And you see, it was just as embarrassing to be among women. And I periodically test myself by going to bed on purpose with no shirt thinking tonight will be the night I do not dream I’m baring my breasts in public. Sigh. Last week was yet another failed attempt. I dreamed I was standing alongside my husband and there were two men in a car looking my way. One had binoculars, the other like some sort of thing made out cardboard toilet paper rolls. In this dream I ask my husband why are they looking this way. Then I realize I’m not wearing a top. Yep! I woke thinking WHEW! Just another dream.

    And this may not surprise you, but I’m against the open bathroom policy. I do not want some guy in the stall next to me listening to me tinkle. Or worse, looking over the stall.

    I hope I made you smile.

    Blessings,

    Little Chickie

    • Reply
      My Inner Chick
      September 2, 2017 at 7:57 am

      Yes, you did make me smile.
      I’ve had that dream, too, and I was APPALLED, embarrassed, and like, “WHERE the hell is my top!”
      Funny.
      Thanks for the SMILE, Chickie. xx

  • Reply
    Kristi Campbell
    September 1, 2017 at 9:01 pm

    Beautiful Kim, your words are a poem to the soul, so healing and important. “Was this part of the mourning process, the numbing process, where I was supposed to remain unbroken, not place my head inside an oven, or deposit rocks inside my pockets to drown myself in Lake Superior?” OMG this, this this. Love you so much, my friend. How can we remain unbroken because we are broken, forever, and yet, there’s life to be lived, here. Huge love to you. xoxo AND THANK YOU.

    • Reply
      My Inner Chick
      September 2, 2017 at 7:58 am

      –Kristi,
      even your comments give me chills. xxx

  • Reply
    Christine Carter
    September 3, 2017 at 6:12 am

    Every time you share another layer of this nightmare- your extraordinary gift of words pulls me in and this nightmare once again punches my soul and tears at my heart. Oh beautiful beloved friend, I wish I knew you then- I wish I knew Kay. I wish I lived near you and I wish I was able to walk with you through this dark, endless, deep, suffocating valley of death.
    Keep writing. Keep using your gift, so others can be saved and Kay continues to live on in ALL of our lives!!

    • Reply
      My Inner Chick
      September 3, 2017 at 6:48 am

      –Chris,
      you, my darling, spur me forward, onward, into the future… to keep breathing))) xxxxxxxxxx

  • Reply
    Marcia @ Menopausal Mother
    September 3, 2017 at 2:44 pm

    Wow….just got goosebumps. A beautiful tribute to your dear sister.

  • Reply
    Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella
    September 4, 2017 at 7:26 am

    Kim your writing is so insightful and raw. I adore it!!

  • Reply
    Cheryl Lewis
    September 4, 2017 at 6:25 pm

    Kim, I’ll never forget the horror I felt when I heard the news. It felt… inconceivable. We all knew Kay so well, from your frequent tales of your antics together and fierce bond. You give her to us still, and for that I’m grateful. Each time your courage rises above your pain, I’m reminded of my own sister and her courage day by day without her precious son. Sigh. I’m grateful that we got to be the family of such awesome individuals. They are worth every pain-stained, joyous memory.

    • Reply
      My Inner Chick
      September 5, 2017 at 5:29 am

      YES,
      they are worth EVERY. SINGLE. ACHE.
      I shall carry it forever…Never let go.
      Luv U. xxx

  • Reply
    Julia Whitmore
    September 16, 2017 at 1:40 pm

    Bravo. You have turned a terrible, unimaginable nightmare into a source of hope and reconciliation.

    • Reply
      My Inner Chick
      September 20, 2017 at 3:08 pm

      Thank you so much for reading my mourning, Julia. xx

  • Reply
    Gary Sidley
    September 19, 2017 at 6:09 am

    Yet again you potently capture the essence of loss. Words will, of course, always be inadequate to truly represent the emotional devastation but you get as close as is it possible to do so.

    Sending strength and resilience from the UK.

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