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And so I am done with Death

As posted to our friend, Abi, to whom I’m grateful.

Kim and I met at Whitman-Walker Clinic in 1992 where we were both employed. For those who don’t know, WWC is the third largest HIV/AIDS clinic in the country – Kim and I worked in the Elizabeth Taylor Medical Center, which was commemorated with a visit by the great dame herself shortly after I started working there.

What I learned from working at WWC and with women the likes of Kim is that you can survive great sorrow by laughing in the face of Death.

Death was all around us at the time – those were the Reagan and ACT UP years, when AIDS was asserted by certain Christian elements as being God’s retribution on gays, and even the non-certain-Christian elements acted with hysteria.

WWC was one of the most laughter-filled workplaces I’ve ever enjoyed. Kim, no surprise to those of you who knew her well, was one of those joys.

I wish I could laugh now. I really do.

The news of Kim’s death has filled me with such sadness that, even now, the tears have been hard to control. I’m stunned. Hanging on to my disbelief like a prayer. As I said to Abi, I keep hoping that this is something like an episode of Punked and, hardy har har, you friends get a taste of what it’s like to be truly missed!

Like Abi, I have a mix of memories of Ms Vivacious, Ms Room Igniter, Ms Laugh-o-Matic, Ms Dreamweaver. Of laying in the grass under shooting stars while Kim taught us to make whistles of the longest leaves. Of her fabulous, not-to-be-attempted-by-mere-mortals coconut cake, which she brought as a gift to my 25th birthday party and which was completely devoured while I was off attending to not-as-important party matters (and damn you all for that!). Of hanging out with my mom (Kim and I learned after we’d gotten to know each other that we actually grew up in the same Tidewater Virginia region), who found her as fabulous as everyone else. Of riding in her convertible with the top down with Kim’s long blond hair whipping here, there, and everywhere in the wind.

One of my favorite memories – and one that I want to leave here to be immortalized on the ‘net for as long as it too shall live – is of an outdoor picnic at Kim’s place across from Abi. I cannot remember the year (don’t all the best moments become timeless anyway?). Kim jumps up and tells us we have to hurry. She packs us all into the car (yes, that same convertible) and whisks us through the Takoma streets before parking us near a house, in front of which a small crowd had already gathered. Unbeknown to me at the time, there are certain flowers that open their blossoms at dusk. This group of neighbors was here to witness the night’s little show. I kid you not, a crowd of people, standing around a fence, waiting on the flowers!

My heart is filled with so many of Kim’s small wonders.

Is it okay that I am done with Death? That I’ve called out a big ol’ ENOUGH ALREADY and decided to break up with him? That I can see that he’s done far too much damage and that—here, in this case — he’s crossed my line in the sand so FUCK HIM, HE’S OUTTA MY LIFE FOR GOOD!?!

I wish I could laugh now. I really do.

Shall we raise a chocolate martini to grief? Let’s get drunk on memory and laugh laugh laugh.

Oh, damn, the tears again. The. Worst. Death. Ever. so please bring on the punking.

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