Kim Kearns Pace, passed away on Saturday after a 3.5 year battle with cervical cancer. But I don't want to focus on her death, I want to focus on her life, which she kicked Absolute 100% Grade-A Canadian Ass at. I want to focus on her heart, which was bigger than the sun. I want to focus on the thousands of children and families she helped throughout her career as Canada's top Speech Language Pathologist. I want to focus on the positive energy she exuded and how she fought for what she believed in and inspired everyone who knew her.
I met Kim in the summer of 2008. We were still in the pre-autism diagnosis days and desperately searching for ways to help Max. She was the first person who reached out to me. She was the first person who listened when I talked about what was going on with Max. She came to the table with information and real solutions about what we could do for him. She was kind, empathetic, and frank about the challenges that lay ahead for us. Her honesty and candour were refreshing and I immediately felt less alone in this journey that we were only just beginning. Kim saw the magic in every child and unearthed gifts that you would never have known were there if not for her.
I credit Kim with getting us started on the right path for helping Max from a therapy perspective. Most of all I am grateful to her for teaching me about faith, and how important it is that I envision a positive future for Max. She believed in him and saw the twinkle in his eyes. She told me she expected tickets to his university graduation ceremony because she wanted to be there when he walked across the stage to receive his diploma. Whenever Max gave us a run for our money she told me that I would tell these stories at his wedding. On one particularly hard day she emailed me the following:
Look past it all - into the future .. several years maybe but there it is....do you see it? That beautiful, smiling, happy boy! That's MAX. That's MAX's voice! That's MAX talking! That's MAX playing with toys! That is MAX calling you "mama".
Visualize it - each and every day and that is what WILL be. Believe it with every ounce of strength you have and there will be no other alternative. I am living proof of this.
I could write for days about how wonderful Kim was and how sorely she will be missed, that there was still so much for her to do. Kim was a person so tenacious that when she was told she had less than a year to live due to cervical cancer, she decided to train for the 2010 Ironman Canada - a race that was more than two years away. And guess what? She did it (while continuing to work full time). While she was at it, she and her friends started The IronDames and raised over $110,000 for Wellspring, a cancer program that promotes physical activity.
Kim, I am devastated that I will no longer get to exchange hugs and smiles with you over Max's progress. I am blessed to have known you in this life, and I know we will meet again. Instead of thinking of you as gone, I am going to imagine you in heaven serving up your Romulan Ale and watching over all of the children and families whose lives you changed for the better.
Rest in peace Kim. You were one in million and you will not be forgotten.
Edited to add:
Visitation will be held on Wednesday July 27th from 5-9pm at:
Dodsworth & Brown Funeral Home
2241 New Street, Burlington ON
The funeral service will be held on Thursday July 28th at 10:30am at:
St. Christopher's Anglican Church
662 Guelph Line, Burlington ON
In lieu of flowers, contributions to the Halton Down Syndrome Association and/or blue balloon Health Services.