Yesterday was a sad, horrible anniversary. The day Kim passed from a sudden ruptured brain aneurysm in 2008. It was a horrible, horrible, day just a few days after we had spent Christmas with her. One I’d love to forget and wipe from my memory. Unfortunately, just as thousands of other families deal with, it’s a memory I cannot forget.

The police tape, the medical vehicles, the tragic cries of a mother losing her only child…it’s a day no one should have to live through and one that haunts me on this “anniversary”. Yes, it’s a day I’d love to forget.

From the sadness and horror of that day, Kim’s family and friends have had to deal with the difficult task of moving on without her in their lives, just as thousands of other families do each year. We aren’t special in that respect, but Kim sure was. I prefer to remember her smile, her laugh, and her kindness. Not the horrific scenes of that day four years ago.

I know Kim wouldn’t want us to dwell on that day either and to move forward and create something positive out of a horrible event so that her friends and family can heal and provide the kind of help and kindness to others that Kim was so famous for.

Unfortunately, my family has been touched by brain aneurysms. I have two older first cousins who are survivors. I, myself, have survived a rupture and we’re monitoring another smaller aneurysm and possible issues with the 11 mm aneurysm that originally ruptured. Then, only 7 months ago, I lost my sister Dori to a massive rupture. Yes, they CAN be hereditary, but that isn’t always the case. It’s just horribly ironic that Kim (not a blood relative of mine) was also taken in such a fashion. I’ll never forget getting that news of the cause of death. Survivor’s guilt doesn’t even begin to describe it for me. Again…a day I’d love to forget.

After my ruptured brain aneurysm, no events, or groups to help support me were available in the state of Maine. My only solace and assistance came from online message boards where I have met some amazing people who have survived much worse than me but share many of the same issues I did and still do. I found great comfort in my online community. My friends didn’t rally around me at my bedside or offer to start a walk or group to support others. There was nothing…other than my saint of a husband. Most people don’t realize the burden his shoulders have carried since 2006. I’m a very lucky woman.

It wasn’t until we lost Kim to the same ailment that almost took my life, that a decision was made here in Maine to DO something about making people aware of what a brain aneurysm is, what it can do to you, how it can be treated, and how, as a community, we can help other families in the same kind of need I was in in 2006 and beyond.

Sadly, my sister Dori was very knowledgable about brain aneurysms and she traveled to Maine on several occasions to be with me and Dave during my procedures. How tragic it is then, that we weren’t even able to save her life. BUT, she knew there was a community in Maine that was trying to DO something to help survivors and families deal with such trauma. She dealt with that trauma herself and I KNOW the information and support we provided others was also of comfort to her and my family.

In 2009, Kim’s close friends and family organized the KAT-Walk for brain aneurysm awareness and to honor Kim’s sweet memory. As Kim did, it’s a way to give back and to support those effected by brain aneurysms. She was the first one looking up what a brain aneurysm was on the computer after I had my rupture and she was the first one to meet me in ICU when I arrived by ambulance that morning. I had very few visitors in the hospital or at home after my surgery, but Kim was one of those and she had the opportunity to meet Dori during that time as well.

I think Kim would be proud of the efforts her family and friends have made in the state of Maine to bring awareness and support to brain aneurysms. The number of families we continue to touch, not only in Maine, but throughout New England, is truly amazing and quite sad as well. There are tremendous survivor stories and tragic losses, but each year we’re becoming a loving and supporting community that gains strength from one another and finds a way to comfort those in need. I think that’s what Kim was all about – and God knows I needed the community this past September. I walked alone that day, but knew both Kim and Dori were beside me.

So, remembering the anniversary of Kim’s death isn’t something I enjoy doing. I’d rather forget that day and remember the date of her birth in March instead…because that’s when an angel was sent to touch the lives of all those around her, even if it was just for a short time. And she’s still touching lives in a very positive way.

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