Seven years, seven months and seven days ago was one of the happiest days of my life. It was November 4, 2000, and I married the most amazing woman I’ve ever met. I knew I was going to marry her the very first time I heard her voice. It is difficult to believe that today, she has been gone for seven years. Seven years ago today, at 11:00, Gee finally lost her short, fierce fight with pancreatic cancer.
We had known about the cancer since Easter 2000, when it was finally confirmed by a biopsy. When she was diagnosed, her father originally asked if I wanted to cancel our engagement. I said, “Gee’s illness doesn’t change who she is, how I feel about her, or what she has come to mean to me. And why would I abandon the woman I love, just when she needs me most?” He never raised the issue again. Apparently, many would have canceled their engagement under these circumstances. Gee and I married well knowing that our time together was probably going to be quite limited.
Gee Yun Kim was one of the most gracious people I have ever known. She was a person who cared for others the way we wish people cared about us. If I can be just one-tenth as gracious as she was, I will have accomplished one of the goals I set for myself after meeting her.
A good example of this is the time Brad came down to visit Gee, shortly before she died. She was in the hospital, having nearly died twice a week earlier, and had four central line IVs, an NG tube and was on oxygen and enough narcotic painkillers to down a herd of elephants. When Brad walked in the room, Gee asked, “Brad, how was your flight?”. Most people I know, especially if they were in the hospital under the same circumstances as Gee was, wouldn’t care how their flight was or much at all anyone but themselves.
Gee was also one of the most stubborn and strong-willed women I’ve ever known. I don’t think she knew how to give up. One of her favorite battle cries, when she and I would wrestle was, “Nevah!” and almost always heard when I asked if she was ready to give up. It was probably a good thing she was as stubborn as she was… since I’ve been called one of the most stubborn people in 20 generations of a very stubborn family.
According to the doctors, she should have died a couple of weeks earlier. The first time was when we called the ambulance and she was bleeding out internally due to a eroded artery in the area she had her surgery. The second time was when another artery bled out. The second time was in the hospital, and she received thirteen units of blood and six units of plasma, and managed to survive. When she came home, a few days before she died, she told me she had survived so she could come home one more time. I think she managed this through sheer stubbornness and strength of will.
Gee was smarter than me…and it took a bit of getting used to being a couple steps behind her most of the time. I got used to it pretty early on though. While we were dating, back in the summer of 1999, I called her up to ask her to change her U-Haul rental, since I was now going to be towing her car to Seattle, rather than her driving and towing a tiny trailer. She had already changed the trailer rental to a tow-dolly rental and changed the location to the one closest to my house, where we were going to be leaving from. My father loved that she could zing me and leave me speechless.
It is hard to believe this amazing woman, who I spent a mere 23 months and one day with has been gone for so long. I miss her still. In many ways, she is still with me… I am still working on my book, “No Greater Love”, which describes our time together. I guess my Life with Gee still continues in many ways.