But that is not why I am blogging right now. I have wanted to blog all day because of one single lady. My mom's dear friend. This dear friend's name is Kim. I have known Kim my entire life. Her children, a few years older than I, had always been around my older siblings. Well when I was 8 years old, I remember Kim's oldest son Paul was coming home from his mission from the Marshall Islands. Like any other LDS family, they were overjoyed with excitement about his return. Little did they know that he was bringing some temporary guests with him. I remember going over there with my mother and being encountered by a small Pacific Islander family in their kitchen consisting of a mom, dad, eleven year old son, and a newborn baby girl. They seemed nice, but a little shy. They left their country to better their lives and find opportunities in America. Well to cut the story short, the mom and dad found their opportunities but didn't see their children in that picture. Hemika(the mom) and Kalani(the dad) soon left Kim's home without their two children. Kim, being overwhelmed with her own five children as the one who was left with the two children. My mother, being the nurturing selfless woman she is, offered to help Kim out. We immediately took the baby girl in our care and watched her as if she was our own until Hemika would return. Well she never did and later asked us to adopt her. Just like that, Kourtney Kalani Snow was adopted in to our family. Well my parents wouldn't allow her brother to be left out so we offered to watch him and care for him as our own. We did so and adopted him 6 months later. It was a beautiful thing to come out of a not-so-beautiful situation.
Well anyway, Kim was the reason we took them in. Kim was a godsend and our family is whole because of her. Seven years ago, Kim was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. It was shocking but her tight-knit family loved and supported her throughout the disease. Throughout high school, I slowly watched the Kim I know fade with her memory. It was extremely sad. That humorous middle aged woman was no longer the Kim I knew. Her life long soul mate stood by her side and was with her every step of the way. Kim passed away last week and I cannot shake it. My mother, being a Social Worker, worked with their family. Both as a friend and counselor. I got a call from my mother this weekend describing the most amazing event that took place at their home. Kim, being surrounded by her husband, mother, five children, and fifteen grandchildren just beamed with joy. Although she didn't remember any of them, she was content. Her ability to speak had diminished and she was just a being. My mother asked her questions but all she got in return were blank stares. Bill, her husband of over 30 years, decided to put on their wedding song, "Unchained Melody" from the movie Ghost. As soon as the first chords played through their stereo, she leaned forward, with a sparkle in her eye and motioned for her husband to come to her. He did so with tears in his eyes. She remembered. She began puckering up to kiss his wrinkled lips and he did so. She passed away the next day.
As I sat in the church during her service I immediately admired her family. They had known she was going to pass for seven years. They were prepared for it. While listening to their talks, all I could think about was me. Yes. As selfish as that sounded, I just put myself in to their shoes. What if that was me. Kim's youngest son, Joey took the stand and gave the most beautiful talk about how incredible his mother was and how he will never be able to dance with her at his wedding. As he said that, all I could think about was, "what if that was me?" I mean I began getting emotional for Joey. A youngest son is supposed to have so many wonderful memories with his mother throughout both of their lifetimes. But he only got 25 years of them. It made me think, what would I do without my mother? All of Kim's kids were saying the kindest things about her, but did they ever express those to her in person? or did they only have the courage to do so after she passed?
I flash-forwarded my brain to my parents funerals. It was me who was up on the stand giving those words about my parents. Only me. I was explaining how selfless my mother was and how she would truly give the clothes off of her own back to someone in need. How she was so service oriented that she paid her way to help me with my Eagle Project. How she would send me little text messages and packages after I told her I was having a rough day. How she loved her kids so much that she worked her ass for five years while her ex-husband was out dating around while not giving her an ounce of child support. How she magnified every church calling she had while maintaining forty hour work weeks while taking care of my little sister. And how I never heard one complaint come out of her mouth. I immediately became overwhelmed with gratitude and love during Joey's speech. I couldn't hold back the tears. I looked over to my mom, who was beaming at the words Joey was preaching and gently squeezed her hand. It was a beautiful thing. So what if I don't have my mother tomorrow? Or what if I woke up from a call from my step-mother telling me my father had passed? What would I do? What would I have done differently? Funerals are interesting things. They make you think a whole lot about life and your relationships. Well God has sent us here to learn and grow. I do know that. Within each relationship there is something unique to take with you. So hold on to those relationships. Cherish them. Appreciate them. And let them know how thankful you are for them. For you may not know when those relationships will be cut short. And as for me? I'm working on expressing my gratitude each and every day. Because your family are the ones that never leave your side. You're kind of stuck with them. And for that I am grateful.
Kim's oldest daughter quoted this poem and it made my heart a little happy:
A Parable of Immortality
"I am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength, and I stand and watch until at last she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come down to mingle with each other. Then someone at my side says, 'There she goes!' Gone where? Gone from my sight ... that is all. She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side and just as able to bear her load of living freight to the place of destination. Her diminished size is in me, not in her. And just at the moment when someone at my side says, 'There she goes!' there are other eyes watching her coming and their voices ready to take up the glad shouts, 'Here she comes!'"
Henry Van Dyke