art journal pages with the words from a friend who passed away

There is an online Commemorative Painting Vigil happening over the next few days to honor the sudden death of my friend, Kimberly Davis – who many of you may have known in person or online. She had a big heart and generous, passionate spirit that she shared in both places.

You can join us in that vigil space, and also for a simple broadcast Commemorative Spreecast tomorrow, Friday May 15, at 1pm EST (access through that group).

I’ve been at a loss when it comes to finding words for a post about this, so below I share a letter I wrote to Kimberly a couple of nights ago.

poplar tulip bud, north carolina, hali karla arts

Dearest Kimberly,

After Cynthia called and told me what happened, I was in shock. I made a few calls, and then didn’t know what to do but go be alone in the woods. You would have loved the walk – baby ducklings, turtles, wild flowers, a river, dreamy clouds… in the moments that I would feel the spiral of sadness tugging me down, the breeze would pick up – I swear it was you – pointing out some beautiful little touch of nature to bring a smile to my heart.

I walked, and I kept aching to just hear your laugh and see your smile one more time, wishing I hadn’t canceled that last Skype date… wanting not to say goodbye, but just that I love you and your bright, big heart one more time.

I stood by the river and there was this fallen poplar tulip bud – so perfect, in her colors. Pulsing as the water kissed her petals, inviting her in. I couldn’t take my eyes away – and what kept running through my mind was, I don’t know how to do this, I don’t know how to do this. Like a prayer. I could feel in those moments, staring at that tulip from a great tree above, how many of us around the world were going to be aching for this, for you. So many of us creative kindreds of yours.

We don’t have traditional ways to process grief together in these new landscapes of online relationships… I know you would understand this awareness. I remembered you coming to my painting vigils some years ago. And I thought, I don’t know how to do THIS… but maybe I can do THAT. I can make a space and an invitation. I can hold it, for you, for us. Someone else might need that, too… for this. Connie and Michelle had the same feeling of a need for connection. Cynthia gave her blessing.

As I walked on this morning, my heart ached for Kevin, your mama, your brother, Cynthia, all of your loved ones in Pennsylvania.

My mind’s eye kept drifting to pages of painted color – and I felt this strong desire to see your paintings again. It was interesting to notice that coming up in me. I remember how much we’d chat about that – your paintings and the intuitive process of creating… how you’d wonder sometimes (like we all do) if they should look like something else, say something more, have recognizable imagery or meaning… but that you just loved the way you felt when you used all the rich, bright colors of the spectrum, bold black lines and white dots… like stars. It brought you joy… in it you found that phrase you loved: “Passionate Stillness.”

Today, I wanted nothing more than for this to be a bad dream – but if not that, then to sit and see and hold and revel in the art that brought you so much joy to make – evidence of the light that is you still shining here with us. The flowing, feminine lines, the white dots you said were like breathing to make. I wanted to be in the presence of the art that brought you joy to make simply because YOU loved it – the process of birthing your paintings – and I can feel that pure energy of You in their beauty, almost as if in the presence of your love for one more time, in the presence of You.

Thank you, from the depths of my heart for making the art that brought your joy and vision of this beautiful life into the world. Thank you for making the art that was healing for you, and the art that gave you your words and courage and clarity and radiance.

I’m sorry for not always being the greatest friend – not being as available as I wish I could’ve been at times. Thank you for loving me and becoming my beloved friend over the years anyhow.

Do you remember that time I showed you that design I was working on? I was so proud of it. You took one look and without missing a beat said, “Yeah, keep working on it. Not there yet.” I laugh at this now. You were so right, and you were always so generous with your honesty about process.

I knew you loved me. That we held safe, loving space between us. That if I needed you, you were there. What brighter gift could any of us bless those we love with?

If you need me from the other side, my friend, I’m here. And I suspect you now well know, if not before, that I am open to this. I feel you still. Nudge me if you see the things that need to be done or said when I don’t – I will continue to trust you.

I will miss you so so much. And I am forever grateful for the friendship we had a chance to create.

Your “Sister of the Heart,”
Hali

(written on the evening of May 12, Kimberly left us May 11)

fallen poplar tulip bud, north carolina

Musings + Updates for Soulful Creatives...

Plus, first-dibs and freebies to inspire your creative practice and self-exploration.

You have Successfully Subscribed!