Part 1C: The Emails - received on May 23, 2018, from Steve Yuen
It had been 25 years since I'd been inside Kim and Karen's house in Palo Alto. A redwood tree that is surrounded by rich shrubbery and terms dominates the normal-size front yard. The front door is only a few feet from the street, yet as rang the doorbell, it was tranquil and dark.
Waiting a minute or two, I rang the doorbell again and finally knocked (Marshall told me later the doorbell wasn't working - hey, I'm familiar with that situation). Karen opened the door, just as pretty as she was 25 years ago when I last saw her in person. Being married to Kim was completely without stress, I suppose; his relaxed Tennessee charm was his true self, not just a public person.
Three large dogs leapt and barked as walked in. I eyed them warily as I took off my shoes. Don't be afraid of them, said Karen. I'm worried they're going to eat my shoes. They won't go in front of the gate, she said. The size of the dogs relative to the thinness of the metal bars didn't provide such reassurance. Oh well, need to get a new pair of loafers anyway.
Kim lay on a hospital bed in the living room. He was thinner than when Bill Brown and I last saw him for lunch (the Refuge in Menlo Park on March 29th). Eyes closed, he was breathing slowly and didn't respond when I said hello.
Marshall and Hana entered from the hallway. We greeted each other in hushed tones, as people do in the presence of the very sick though they can't hear us.
Karen rubbed his hand, as did I. Again, no response.
Say what you were to say anyway, she said.
I thanked him for being an excellent golf partner, for introducing me to high-end whiskey and the Lexus brand (our Toyota family leased its first "luxury car" in 2015). I thanked him for asking me to join him in his Umbra start-up and all the great business lunches we had in Fremont. And I did learn a lot about creating iPad apps.
Kim curled his upper lip slightly. "He made a face." Karen said, but there was no other movement, just his breathing.
Karen left the room to make a call to the hospice nurse, and Marshall sat by Kim's side. Marshall, who is a licensed EMT, suddenly looked concerned. Hana rubbed Marshall's shoulders in an effort to comfort him. Karen came back and held Kim's hand.
I asked her permission to say a prayer.
From the Book of Common Prayer:
A Prayer for a Person near Death
Almighty God, look on this your servant, lying in great weakness, and comfort him with the promise of life everlasting, given in the resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
From the Litany at Time of Death
Deliver your servant, Kim, O Sovereign Lord Christ, from all evil, and set him free from every bond; that he may rest with all your saints in the eternal habitations; where with the Father and the Holy Spirit you live and reign, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
I joined everyone in weeping quietly. I look at my watch. It was 10:39 a.m.
I sat on the chair and looked around the room. The dogs and cats lay very still, no longer boisterous or even upright. Do animals know what's going on? You could not convince me otherwise.
Addie came to the front door. It was time to leave. I touched Kim's arm for the last time. I hugged Karen, then Addie whom I had seen since she was a little girl.
I slipped on my shoes, which were mercifully intact, and let myself out.
Driving to Foster City, I didn't feel like going home right away. I sat on a bench near the Bay. It was low tide on a cloudy day. Godspeed, my friend.