What can we bring you

The receiving line at Kim’s wake was filled with people who knew her in so many different ways.

They wanted to tell me how sorry they were.

I wanted to hear a story about Kim from them.

So many of them shared great moments.

Others I shared moments back. I wanted to show them that I knew about them even though I’d never met them. That Kim had talked about them at home. That they were important enough to her to tell me the stories and that was enough that I remembered.

One woman from work said “I’m Sabrina, I used to buy Girl Scout cookies from Kim.” And I told her that that was so important to Kim that for the last eight years Maggie wasn’t even in Girl Scouts and Kim would go get a form and get the cookies to sell her for a local troop.

Our auto mechanic came and wrapped his arms around me and asked “whose going to give me hugs?” When I would drop my car off at their shop, Kim would come by to pick me up and drive me home and would always get out of her car to give Kenny a big hug. His daughter is buried not far from ours. Kim is moving in to their neighborhood.

Maggie and Elena’s first grade teacher hugged me and said, “If you wanted to see me you could have invited me over for a meal. Not this.” Other teachers and administrators from the Shaker Schools came through not believing this had happened. Not believing Maggie would have to face another huge loss.

The husband of one of her childhood friends told me a story about when they used to go water skiing. Before Kim and I met she and her friends used to go out on the water almost every weekend. (I worry that Kim had way less fun after we met than before, but that’s for another day.)

At the end of the day when they were putting the boat away, they would have to cover it with some sort of a tarp. Rick said that because she was short she was the one that had to do a particular task and that week after week when she was doing that, he would snap the tarp down with her inside.

I can picture her mad but not mad. It’s a gift of a moment that I never got to see that now I can imagine forever. Thank you for these stories.

Kim’s cousins, her childhood friends, family friends, my family, co-workers, former co-workers, and neighbors came through the line for four hours. We shared hugs and thoughts and stories.

People offered to bring food.

Really, I love to cook and I’m only cooking for one starting Saturday.

What I’d like you to bring are stories. Tell me a story about Kim that I don’t know. Tell me a story about Kim that I do know.

Don’t just tell me the cleaned up version to respect her memory. You can tell me about her when she was being sarcastic, angry, irreverent, or playful. I love the ones where she was being sweet, funny, goofy as well.

What can you bring me?


I was looking ahead ten years to the time when Kim and I would have been together longer than we’d been apart. I’m optimistic and romantic that way.

But this means that she died and I knew her for less than half her life. That’s a lot of stories people can tell me. Even during the twenty-four years we were together, she did a lot of living when I wasn’t there to see it.

Tell me stories.

Email them to me. Text them to me. Write them down old-school. Tell them to me in person.

Tell me stories about Kimmy.

A lasagna lasts a week.

A story lasts a life time and connects the teller to me through Kim.


Published in: on August 26, 2016 at 7:34 am  Comments (11)  

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  1. This has me in tears. Thank you for sharing your perspectives as you go through this very hard time; I find it is reforming the way I view the passage of time and life in general. Take care.

  2. Daniel,
    I’ve written your sister and your parents but not you directly yet. I want you to know I am thinking of you and your beloved Kim so much and your beloved Maggie and your beloved Elena too. So much loss in direct proportion to so much love.
    I am so touched that you are writing and sharing with all of us the daily intimacies of moving moment to moment through this enormous, achingly recent and sudden loss.
    I love your call for stories – you have articulated what I too find most helpful in the wake of loss of both my parents and with Dave who is still with is for a short time longer. We put together a book for him (but even more for us) of stories from all different eras and perspectives from the people in his life. They are thrilling to read – I savor every one.
    I wish I’d had more moments with your lovely Kim but we will pool the experiences we did have and get them over to you. In the meantime, I send you my deepest love.

  3. I wish I had known her. The version I know from your blog was multi-dimensional, strong, funny, headstrong. A force with deep reserves of compassion and generosity. I wish I had known her, but I feel like I sort of did.

  4. Daniel, I don’t know if you remember me…from Oberlin…Jill and I are friends. I have been so broken hearted for you and all of your family this past week. I have been wordless…I asked Jill to give you a hug for me because I don’t know what to say. This last post of yours, I wish I could give you a story…but, I didn’t know Kim.
    What I can tell you is that a few months ago when Steve and Karen Merrill’s father passed away, and I went to his service…I walked away from it wishing I had known him. And, I think that is what a memorial service ought to do…leave you with a feeling of love.
    You have shared so much on this blog. It boggles my mind. And I wish that I had known Kim. I think that I would have liked her very much. And, I feel like I do have stories of Kim, because of all that you have shared.
    So, while I have no stories to offer, thank you for sharing yours. I don’t think that you will ever comprehend how much your stories, your perspective, and your words move people.
    You are doing the world a huge favor by inviting us to know Elena and Kim, even though most of us have never known them. Your words of love and wisdom are greatly needed in this world. So thank you for sharing. And, I will forever be changed because I knew you. And, because you shared your love w/us all.

    • Lee, that was so beautiful. You shared so much as well. I, among many as well have been moved by Daniel’s words.

  5. I heard about you and Kim long before I met either of you. BJ spoke so fondly of you. I was so excited to finally meet you, Kim, and Maggie at our house and enjoy dinner with you. I was also happy to buy my “fancy” outside plates for the special company that BJ invited over. 😊 You were so sweet in bringing food that our boys could eat given their food allergies. Kim and I just clicked from the moment we started talking. Not that SLP’s ever have difficulty talking to people! Ha! I can remember all of our therapy stories as well as watching the relationship that Maggie had with her mom. It was that perfect mix of sweetness mixed in with the “oh mom, don’t embarrass me” look that Maggie would give her if you or Kim would brag about her in the slightest. You sure did raise a wonderful daughter that converses confidently with adults yet still acts like the teenager that she is. I hope this story and all of the other stories bring you and Maggie some comfort now as well as many,many years from now.
    With sympathy,
    Sarah Miller

  6. I wish I had a story to tell you. I wish I could give you that. I’ve been reading your story for years. I feel like I know you – a little bit anyway. What I can tell you, as a reader of your story, is that the love you have for Kim, and the love you shared, was beautiful. It was honest and sweet and real. And I loved hearing your story of life with Maggie and Kim after Elena passed away. Please keep telling your stories. We want to hear them.

  7. Hi Daniel, I’m sure you are exhausted by the week, the wake, the service today, and your emotions in losing dear Kim. And being there for Maggie. it seems like only yesterday that we met in the hotel bar in Shenzen, which sounds a wee bit shady in the telling of our adoption story. But hey, we weren’t sleepy and I am forever grateful for that fun memory. We all spent two weeks together getting our daughters – what an experience. Followed by our yearly get togethers with and for the Shen Sisters. And it was so fabulous that you guys made it to Mpls a couple of other times as well. I have a framed photo of Elena laying on my dog Molly that I love. Boy she kept us entertained! And then, the devastating news from Kim about Elena. We flew out and, despite your grief, you and Kim were able to welcome us to your home, make sure we didn’t get lost, and embrace us while you were suffering. Then the sad trip to Disneyworld for the Shen Sisters 10 year reunion. How my heart broke for you guys, wanting to be there for Maggie, but so missing dear little Elana. And through all of this, I loved Kim like a sister. She was just so easy and open and fun and funny. Kim was a “no judgement” zone, for me anyway. I do recall her reaming someone who berated her political views (which she and I firmly share) and used his religion to try to make a point. Holy Hannah, I don’t think that person will make that mistake again. Little spitfire! And our fun trip to Rhode Island, with our day trips to Boston and Providence. Wonderful memories. And Daniel, two words about Kim: Big Lots! Multiple visits! Lol! We have one here now and of course I think of her every time I drive by. She was just a joy. And I enjoyed watching your marriage during all these travels, the humor, the love, the eye rolls, but all in fun. She lived a wonderful life with you, Maggie and dear little Elena. So much love, such a comfy home. I know she is thanking you for your years of love. I was lucky to know her.

  8. Please accept my deepest sympathies. I knew Kim at St.,Gregory the Great. I only went there in the 7th and 8th grade, but Kim and I became friends. She always made me laugh, and I made her laugh. Unfortunately, we went to different high schools, and we really never reconnected until Facebook came along. When another grade school friend informed me of Kim’s passing, it truly took my breath away. I was just telling my husband a story a week or so ago about a vivid memory I have of Kim and I. We were sitting in her room listening to her new album with the song Elton John’s “Benny and the Jets”. We were discussing things Jr. High girls talk about, and Kim was telling funny stories. She was kind, and she just had an old, caring soul…she had freckles on her nose and long, straight black hair parted down the middle. Whenever I Hear that song, I always think of Kim and that moment in time. She came into my life when I needed a friend. I will pray for you, your daughter, and your families. I truly am sorry for your loss. God Bless….

  9. In first grade we used to memorize a poem:
    When you start a smile,
    You don’t know where it will end.
    It may come back to you,
    On the face if a friend.

    This popped into my head when I thought of Kim. Every time I saw her she had that bright smile and it was contagious. Just a couple of weeks ago we chatted at Heinen’s and she was bubbling over with pride about Maggie. I was always amazed that her light never went out. We all knew Elena’s death cast a shadow but she honored her by living with zest. That will be her lasting legacy: Live life with enthusiasm and love without hesitation.

  10. Daniel,
    My sister Jane and brother in law Alan have talked to me about yourself and Kim and how Kim and Jane would hang out together while you guys were working. I know Jane enjoyed those times, felt a real connection with Kim and was looking forward to building on that connection. I am so sorry for your loss and yourself and Maggie have been often in my thoughts. There are people a long way away who are thinking of you.

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