One of my dearest friends died more than a month ago. Sept. 17 would’ve been her 49th birthday.
Kimberly Brown took her life.
No one knows why.
She wanted to do it.
She drove from the middle of Jefferson County to the middle of Crystal Beach — past The Big Store.
That’s a long drive when you know at the end you’re going to take your life.
We met at Lamar University-Beaumont in the University Press offices.
I might have known her two days when she asked me to go see a ballet of “Romeo and Juliet” at Julie Rogers Theatre.
I might’ve been the first or 31st person she asked, but I accepted.
Five or 10 minutes into the ballet, Kimberly leaned over to me and asked, “When do they start doing the dialogue?”
“I don’t think they recite dialogue in ballets.”
Another 10 minutes go by and the dancers are flat-out not speaking Shakespeare.
“Yeah. They don’t talk in ballets.”
After, we ended up at a coffee place in Old Town. There were no other customers, just the two guys running the place.
It was ridiculously quiet and other than our drink order, Kimberly and I almost didn’t speak.
I was intimidated by the silence.
I took her home and instead of going straight in, Kimberly asked whether we could sit outside and talk.
We sat on this small concrete front porch and had the conversation we could’ve had at the coffee place.
Kimberly admitted she was also intimidated by the silence.
Our conversation was wonderful and amazing and I remember none of it.
But Kimberly did one thing I will never forget. She sang to me. Why? I can’t remember. I do remember the song — “John Deere Green” by Joe Diffie.
From that moment I was hooked.
Here’s another — Kimberly and I went to New Orleans to see Britney Spears.
Britney is the best. Shut up. Let it go.
We were in the main concourse of the New Orleans Arena — now the Smoothie King Center.
I see an older man — shock of white hair — in a gray suit. He’s standing with presumably his wife and two teenage daughters. All three women are platinum blondes. The entire family is dressed — crisp.
Their attire is better fit for church or Sunday brunch than a Britney Spears concert.
The man turns and I recognize him.
I lean to Kimberly and said: “Kimberly. That man, over there, that’s Edwin Edwards.”
“Who’s Edwin Edwards?”
“The former governor of Louisiana. He resigned because his administration was so corrupt.”
“How do you recognize these people?”
We approached Edwin Edwards — no one else was. Britney’s fans, strangely, don’t follow corrupt Louisiana politics.
He turned like he was floating.
“Hello, Governor. I just wanted to say ‘hello’ and shake your hand.”
“Well, thank you.”
“And this is my friend Kimberly.”
Then he turns to Kimberly, puts out his hand and in a way only a corrupt Southern politician could pull off, he said to her: “And what a lovely friend you are.”
Kimberly is like no one else.
That’s an easy thing to say. We all have special people in our lives who break and hold our hearts.
Most of them never know what they do to us.
She’s not perfect.
As a daughter, sister and mom, Kimberly could be challenging, but you love Kimberly anyway.
People cannot be explained or understood.
As you read this, the one next to you could never explain to you who they truly are. If they could, you could truly never understand.
We, at times, all can feel lost. We all can feel alone. It’s not unusual to any of us.
Know this, there is love in this world for you and some of that love exists around you every day from everybody who populates your world.
Please know you are loved.
Be kind — to others and yourself.