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For Kim on what would have been her 58th birthday

Jan Hearne • Jul 9, 2012 at 11:33 AM

I’ve thought so much about this column for Kim it has crept into my dreams. Today is her birthday. She would have been 58.

It’s not often I know exactly what I was doing on a particular day more than 30 years ago, but on July 8, 1978, Kim’s 24th birthday, our friends Dickie and Jay threw a party at their house. It was a combination birthday/going away bash.

Kim was moving to Boulder, Colo., the next week, and I was riding out with her. If I liked Boulder, I would move later in the summer.

Dickie had a great party house complete with pool. We were surrounded by friends, there was plenty of laughter and good food. At one point, Kim and I ended up sitting on the bathroom floor laughing and talking. She was my very best friend.

This Memorial Day weekend, my niece, her husband and my great-niece came to visit. We went to Knoxville and stopped by Patra’s house for the annual get-together. There must have been 40 people there.

Later, my nephew-in-law Brian asked how I knew them all. Through Kim, I told him. She introduced me to every-one in that room.

“That’s a lot of friends to meet through one connection,” he said.

It is. I have Kim to thank for my life.

I’ve been thinking so much about Kim, last night I dreamed a group of us were putting together a tribute to her, and she was there to help us plan it.

On one level, I knew she was gone and I was surprised and happy to see her. On the other hand, it seemed natural for her to be there.

But as dreams often are, this one was muddled. The tribute wasn’t going to be on paper but on radio. I was nervous; Kim told me I could do it. She even told me what I might say about her.

She didn’t have to. Kim was funny, she was whip smart, she was outspoken, she loved music, she loved to laugh, she loved being with her friends.

Kim was ambitious, but, on her 24th birthday, we were just having fun, trying to sort things out, see things, do things. Our friends, who seemed to be on the road a lot, set the bar high.

I went to Colorado, came home and stayed there. I’d met the guy I was going to marry at Kim’s party. By the time we got married, not quite a year later, Kim was back in Knoxville and a bridesmaid in my wedding.

We yo-yoed in and out of each other’s lives. I moved to Athens; Kim moved to Atlanta. Kim moved to Memphis; I moved to Johnson City. Kim moved to Knoxville, then Nashville and back to Knoxville again. I moved to D.C., back to Knoxville, to L.A., then back to Johnson City.

Despite the moves and changes, she was a constant in my life, no matter how much time passed between conversations.

In my dream, I tried to put all of this into words I could speak into the radio microphone. It was important for the world to know that Kim had lived and made us laugh, that she was braver than I could ever be.

In my dream I called out to her; I needed more time. But Kim, caught up in a crowd was swept along, out of my reach. They rounded a corner — and once again Kim was gone.

Jan Hearne is the Press Tempo editor. Reach her at jhearne@johnsoncitypress.com.

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