Kim Barnes 

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Left to Right: Paloma (One of my sweet seminary girls.) Sonya (Kim’s friend and carer, a kind and inspiring woman.) Kim (In the stylish gray hat.) Me.

I have been fortunate in my life to not have had many occasions for attending funerals. I can probably count on one hand the number of funerals I’ve been to.  Yesterday Richard and I attended the funeral of Kim Barnes, a new friend to us, a member of our ward here in London. 

Despite living with illness and disabilities, Kim’s death still came as a shock to me.  I knew she had been in the hospital, and unfortunately I had procrastinated taking the kids to see her, and upon learning that she had passed away, my grief was all the more exquisite at the idea that I would not be able to tell her, in this life, how much I appreciated and admired her kindness.

Kim was in the primary at church, which meant she devoted a lot of time to planning, preparing and doing things for my children.  The primary here is small, on a good Sunday there might be 12 children at church, so Kim knew them all individually and cared for them.  Instead of the small primary discouraging her from working hard to make positive experiences for the kids, I think it encouraged her.

Aside from my personal gratitude for Kim’s efforts and kindness, I also admired her for her loyalty, optimism and selfless service.  It is my nature to avoid anything that can’t be done with convenience, but because of Kim’s health problems, nothing was convenient for her, and yet she was always involved.  The photo I posted of Kim was on Remembrance Day, this last fall when the LDS Catford Ward was asked to present a wreath at the Greenwich Remembrance Day Ceremony.  Kim had volunteered to be involved and I just asked if I could come along. 

Kim’s brother Jon wrote the Eulogy for her funeral, but asked that someone else read it.  He told the story of a time when he teased his sister that what she needed was a full-body transplant; to which Kim responded that her disabilities had made her into the person that she was.  Jon went on to say that even though he loved her dearly, he believed her to be so sincere in that remark, that he wouldn’t change her broken body even if he could.

I appreciated that story because I’m coming to a belief that in some part, perhaps in great part, the goodness we each possess comes not in spite of our difficulties, but because of them.  This simple belief is often, for me, the pathway to forgiveness and gratitude.  My friend Lindsey recently wrote on her blog about how her daughter’s disabilities bring out the best in people around her, and Lindsey feels so grateful for the chance to see unselfishness and charity offered to her sweet little girl. 

I think funerals can be sacred events.  There is so much love, comfort, and empathy in those rooms.  I also believe that we are sanctified by our grief, and when we grieve together we love more deeply.

I’m grateful for Kim’s example in my life, I’m grateful we moved here when we did so that I could have the chance to know her, and my kids could know her as well.  I’m grateful I could attend her funeral and learn a bit more about her and her brave mortal experience.  

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