After my daughter was killed by a drunk driver, her best friend sat down at the keyboard and the Holy Spirit made comforting words fall out of the ends of her fingers. That e-mail was a key factor in my successful grief recovery. It is also a major reason why I share my experiences via these stories.
The Holy Spirit Sends E-Mail
My daughter Kimberly Sue was killed by a drunk driver on June 15, 2000. The annual Summer Fire School at Iowa State University had just been completed. She was on her way to a bachelorette party. Her younger brother was being married in two days. A driver who had been at an all day golf outing ran a stop sign at high speed and hit Kim in the driver’s door. His blood alcohol content was above the legal limit.
The wedding went on as planned and then Maxine and I turned our attention to Kim’s funeral. We were devastated by the loss of Kim and there were many unanswered questions. While we were planning Kim’s funeral, Maxine and I received an e-mail from Kim’s best friend.
The e-mail can only be explained as the work of the Holy Spirit. Lisa sat down at the keyboard and the words just poured out. Those words were a huge help to Maxine and I as we dealt with the loss of Kim.
The greatest help was the knowledge that Kim had returned to church and was developing a spiritual life. She had not mentioned that to Maxine and I. But, your kids don’t always tell you everything. Shortly after her death we received a letter from Bethesda Lutheran Church in Ames. The letter concerned preparations for new members to join the church. I wrote a letter explaining her death and thanking them for helping Kim return to the church and developing her spiritual life.
The e-mail the Holy Spirit helped Lisa write follows:
Dear Gary and Maxine Stratton,
I wanted to share some memories of Kim with you that seem to be rushing at me all at once. Kim was very dear to me..and has been my friend for 9 years (as of last May) and my very best friend for over 5 years. I have so many fond memories of Kim. She was a wonderful and loving person as everyone that ever became close to her knows. She is the only person in my life that I can say that I do not have one single regretful feeling/experience about, not even a misunderstanding. If I needed her..all I had to do was call and say “I need you” and with no questions asked she would drop everything and be here for me. I always knew I could count on her. I could spend time with Kim and we could say absolutely nothing (which did not happen often) and feel totally and completely satisfied and fulfilled with the experience.
The most profound memory I have is approximately a week before her death we were talking on the phone making vacation plans (for August around her birthday) and talking about life in general. She told me (after a long conversation) “I feel the best I have ever felt emotionally, spiritually, and physically. I can truly say I am happy.” Kim always said that everything happens for a reason..good and bad..and holds an experience to learn from, it is our responsibility to pull the given experience from the situation. We need to be thankful for what we had and not what we lost. I hold this close and as I grieve my loss of a best friend I know that she knew I loved her and I know she loved me….we always expressed our appreciation and love for one another in our friendship and there is not many other relationships I have that I can say that about.
When Kim came into my life I was forever changed for the better and I am thankful for the time I had with her. I know in my heart as we are all here on earth grieving the loss of Kim, God is embracing Kim and welcoming her into his kingdom. Kim had come to peace with so many issues that bothered her. In Nov of 1998 she started going to church again. She did not want a big deal made of it so I just said “oh” and dropped it. In time she told me that she was glad that she started back and that it made her feel better. She started dating Troy about 6 months ago (he has been a friend of hers for a few years) and fell in love and she felt she would spend the rest of her life with him. She was spending more time with her family. She was happy about the closeness she felt with you all. She was especially proud of the fact that you (her parents) asked her to be executor of your will/finances upon death (that is how she put it to me, not exactly sure of the exact request)..and that her brother asked her to be guardian of his children if anything happened to him and his wife…it made her feel good that her sister-in-law said that if anything happened to her that she would be designated “in-charge” of her nieces even if her brother was ok..(forgive me if I am not getting this exactly right..I have to admit I was listening as a friend to why she was proud, but did not try to keep the facts straight in these “death-related” matters because it made me feel uneasy talking about it and I wanted to get on with the conversation) she always felt that her nieces where just as much her nieces as her nephew was even though they were not born of her brother. We talked about this at times because I am adopted and she asked me how I felt about being adopted into a family. She often told me that she hoped she would have the love that she saw in her Grandparents (the ones in Ames). She felt they shared a kind of love that is rare..one that has an “eternal flame”..they still talked about their days of dating like it was yesterday. The hard times at work with the State taking over the Fire Institute and Iowa State letting it go was finally decided..she was glad that the only thing left to do was to do the work of setting it all up…she had pushed for this change and was proud that her “brain child” (as she put it) was underway…she did dread the work ahead of having to deal with the change over but was happy that they were going to have a better Institute to teach from.
She enjoyed making things with her dad..all those candle holders out of rusted metal and barbed wire..she could hardly wait until her dad retired because she had a whole list of furniture she wanted him to make for her…and she appreciated all the work her mom did on refinishing the table in her kitchen and the heritage behind it..she loved the chair her mom reupholstered for her in the living room as well. This was all said through the coarse of many months/years…I am now recalling all that was said..and realizing how important it really was to others as well as myself..she was happy and content with her life. She was a confident business woman and knew she was good at what she did. She was proud of what she had accomplished in her life to this point. I hope that this helps some. I know that she was your daughter and you knew her. But, I know that I do not always share some things with my parents that I should..and I just wanted you to know that Kim talked about you all to me a lot and she was at a point in her life that she was finally happy and content. If you ever want to talk with me or write me.
Fifteen years after this e-mail was written, Kim remains part of my life and part of Lisa’s life. Lisa and I stay in touch. We are appreciative of the years we got to spend with Kim and are thankful for the positive impact she had on us during her short life.