April Seventh – The day my best friend died.

I dislike using the term ‘lost‘ in reference to the death of a loved one. This post’s title could easily have read, “April Seventh – the day I lost my best friend.” But I never lost her. She’s not a spare sock somewhere underneath the washing machine. She’s not the key to the drawer in the old basement desk. She’s not wandering an unfamiliar place trying to gain her bearings. She’s still here because I continue her story and memory. So, no, KimChi is not lost.

Language is strange though, because I equally feel that I can use the term ‘losing a loved one’ or ‘the loss of a loved one’ without any reserve. I guess ‘lost‘ is too harsh for me. It’s an abrupt end. It’s a cause without hope. Los-TTT. The way it leaves my mouth leaves me feeling like I just bit my tongue.

“But your title reads, ‘April Seventh – The day my best friend died.’  That sounds pretty final to me!” Death is a human condition that deserves to be recognized and respected. She is in a state of death, but she is not lost. That’s the difference for me.

So on April 7, 2012, my best friend, my sister, died in a hiking accident in central Kentucky.

In our high school art class, we would (poorly) plan our future travel adventures. Backpacking through Europe, teaching English in Southeast Asia, driving cross-country, and more. There was not a destination that discouraged us because the trip with one another was the destination.

To practice our eventual epics, we would spend 1-3 hours in a car each weekend discovering new areas and nearby cities. Purposefully losing direction so that we could stumble upon new state roads. From our hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, we were always taking trips to Cincinnati, Lexignton, Chicago, and more. These trips were so casual and spontaneous, that we never planned them ahead of time.

And the same almost happened on April 7, 2012.

I was driving to southern Kentucky with my mother to visit extended family members. Almost forty minutes outside of my home, I received a call from KimChi.

“I’m ten minutes away from your house. We are going hiking outside Berea, Kentucky!” It wasn’t a request, but a statement of fact. I suppose I forgot to tell her that I would be gone that weekend.

It was at my aunt’s house, after a lovely lunch, that I my cell phone rang. The caller ID read “KimChi.” But it was a voice other than her own.

Who is on this phone?

This prank is kind of dumb.

Why would you, a stranger, prank me from KimChi’s cell phone?

Where is KimChi’s snickering voice in the background?

Maybe this isn’t a prank.

This guy sounds serious.

What is happening?

That’s when my mother took the phone away from me to figure out what had me looking upset. It was just a prank. No reason for her to be concerned.

It wasn’t a prank. This was real. I could tell because my mother cupped her mouth and tears ran down her eyes as she shook her head in confirmation to me. I felt what people talk about when their heart drops out of their body to the floor. The rest of the day was a blur.

The worst part is that this is one of my strongest memories of KimChi. It’s not the strongest. But I wish that I could remember more of our silly times together. Spontaneous phone calls are what I miss the most.


First submission to KimChi’s Big World in Louisville, KY.

I decided that we will continue to travel together. And not just us. Her and all of her friends and family. I created “KimChi’s Big World” a digital travel memorial. This is how my journey with Death began. The memorial is for our travels to continue, but also to keep her memory fresh for her family, friends, and classmates. Submissions are welcome from anyone.

This blog is going to explore myself and other individuals/groups in efforts to cope with grief; how people overcome strong emotions that come from the loss of a loved one; where people’s relationship with death moves toward; why people reshape their lives in response to experiences with death; and so much more.

I urge that you will join me in contemplating the human condition of death and thinking about how we, as humans, react to events of death.

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6 Responses to April Seventh – The day my best friend died.

  1. Great to make a distinction between loss and death, you take her with you wherever you go in your heart and in your memories.. Beautiful piece, some holes fill too slowly. Condolences, she sounds like she was a great and happy person 🙂


    • Laura Duncan says:

      She was a very happy person and a great inspiration to all who knew her while she was alive. I feel strongly about the difference between death and loss, so I’m glad that I was able to express that effectively in my first post. Thank you! c:

      Liked by 1 person

  2. hafunohannah says:


    I remember when you first told me about her. I remember thinking “that’s strange, she doesn’t act like she has lost someone”. But now I see it’s because you haven’t.

    I also remember that time in Chicago, when we went to take the JLPT, and we stopped to get deep-dish pizza. You showed me her picture and I remember grabbing it and holding it out of your reach. Your face got serious as you reached for her picture, and I realized that I had been incredibly insensitive. I apologize for that. I was young(er) and stupid, and It is something that I have always regretted.

    On a lighter note, I hope you’re doing well, and I look forward to your posts!


    • Laura Duncan says:

      I’m sorry for becoming angry when you took my picture of KimChi! That was a really great trip to Chicago, too. I miss our Japanese classes together that’s for sure. I’m doing well and I look forward to making more posts!
      Thank you for reading and commenting (:


  3. Pam says:

    Dear Laura, thank you so much for sharing. Proud to say you are my friend! This is a beautiful tribute to KimChi and inspiration to so many others. You Rock!!!!

    Love you,
    Pam, UCLA


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