12 years ago I received a phone call. On the other end of the line I heard a sweet spunky southern voice, explaining to me how she wanted to fulfill her childhood dream of showing english and jumping fences horseback.
Little did I know my best friend, my soul sister was on the other line. I do not recall when, why or how it happened, but it happened. Kim moved from a client to my dearest friend in what seemed like the blink of an eye.
I am not alone in my adoration of her sweet soul. My husband says she has that ‘momma vibe’ – you just want to be near her, just soak up her presence, her energy, her simple way of just making you feel at home.
She is an incredible mother. When I first met her, Austin was a little boy, and he was her right hand. If Kim was there, Austin was there. He even took some horseback riding lessons with her. I cannot tell you how many times she has told me how brilliant her son is – and she is right, he is. She told me many times that all he has to do is put his mind to something and he excels at it.
I remember her singing to him “You are my Sunshine, my only sunshine.” and he was and will forever be, her shining son.
I am certain that Kim will be finding many ways to show Austin that she is still with him, that he is protected, unconditionally loved and guided by her, throughout his life.
Kim has a tight-nit family. She has always spoken of JoAnne as not only her mother, but her friend. She would always excitedly call me after they went out shopping, always excited to decorate the house, or the farm – or her nieces with the things they would find together.
And her brothers, oh how I remember her talking about her brothers often. How she never thought it was fair the Shane got the chiseled face of a model and she was the girl and she got the round cheeks! – but how we all love those cheeks.
And I’ll never forget how excited she was for her brother Jackie Jr when he and Carmen found their lq horse trailer – she had wanted one herself and had so much fun searching for one for them. She was so happy for them to be able to better enjoy life by having that trailer. She just knew life was meant to be enjoyed… and oh how she adores sweet Cody. I can hear her say it now, “that boy has my heart”
And how she loved Butch and his family. I remember when the car over heated on us half way home from CTCA in the middle of the night – she thought I was calling a tow truck and she said – oh wait wait wait now – don’t you be making any decisions w/o me – you know I have family that will come get us right? And he would have – no matter how far away – thankfully the car was fine after topped off with some antifreeze and we never had to call you Butch.
Aunt Jill, how she loved her Aunt Jill. She spoke so fondly of the ——— prayer? group they had together and of her Aunt Jill’s spiritual strength.
The first years I knew Kim, she was a single mom, and though loved dearly by family and friends, I knew there was a piece missing for her, I could feel it. I remember so vividly, craving for her to experience the forever love of a forever partner in life. A love that I could not provide, a kind of love that only a spouse could fill.
She had known Billy Benson for years as a friend, but never dated him. I remember her telling me that Austin told her, “Mom – he is a really nice guy. Why don’t you go out with him?” So she did – and the relationship that resulted grew into the love I knew she had always desired and deserved.
Billy Benson adored this woman, from her physical beauty to her spitfire grit, to her angelic soul. He adored every bit of her and I can not express to you my appreciation for your adoration.
Billy Benson and Kim Bullard-Benson found their soulmates in one another, and a cancer diagnosis was not going to get in their way of celebrating their life and love, together.
I remember that gorgeous day on the beach, those pictures you have seen were mostly from that day. That day, Kim and Billy both knew of her recent cancer diagnosis. They knew their time together was uncertain, but they knew, no matter how much time they had, that it would be worth it. .. and I know that it was.
Kim gained more than a husband that day. She gained a new family as well. A heart sister in Christ with dear Helen and a brother, whom she would jokingly call her second husband, Bobby, who went above and beyond to help with the horses, the house, anything they needed. He was there. She loved them as her own kin.
Kim also gained another son that day. Zach Benson might as well have been blood to Kim. She loved him as her own and I know she will be guiding him, showing her spirit to him in un-explainable ways, just like she will do for Austin.
I know I am not naming every one of you, the family and friends that she loves so deeply – but know she loves each of YOU and she will be your guardian angel as well if you let her.
There was something else that held a higher importance to her than anything else and that was her connection with God. Throughout her 5 years of surgeries and countless chemo treatments she stood firm with Christ. She stood firm on the promise of eternal life and she stood firm on her promise to be Christ-like in her daily life and oh how she was. She touched, inspired, uplifted countless people – some that only knew her from social media, some that were mere acquaintances, but she changed them all just the same. There have been literally over 100 comments, in depth, long paragraphs, from some of those people, sharing how much she means to them.
She changed this world. Specifically her life and how she lived it, with cancer, changed this world.
She always told me she did not want to be in the spotlight. She wanted to be behind the scenes, taking care of others – being a caretaker was what she felt most comfortable doing – but God had other plans and she bravely and boldly stepped up to the plate. I watched her share her testimony to countless people, in front of church congregations, at horse shows, at public events, with every person she met.
I remember her saying that God wants to help you find your keys. That statement just blew me away. I remember catching myself belly aching to her over some struggle of mine and feeling guilty – She would not hear of it. She always reminded me every struggle mattered, and every struggle – no matter how large or small to us – it was all small to God. She changed the name of her page on fb that was “My Care Page” to “Your Prayer Page” because that was what she wanted her life to be about. Helping YOU with your struggles, even finding your keys. It all matters to Kim. Everyone matters to Kim.
This woman wore teal proud. She wore it on her fingernails, on her car’s bumper sticker, on her boots and even in her hair. Cancer did not define her, but she did not shy away at the unique opportunity she had to help others through her fight.
And she did help others, in so many ways. Perhaps one of the most profound ways was showing, proving to so many, that cancer was not an end of life sentence. She refused to allow any doctor to give her a timeline. She knew her life line came straight from her source, God and only God had the authority to speak life and death over her existence.
She loved CTCA for this reason. It was more than the medicine there. They treated the spirit, they valued and respected her higher power. They treated the whole patient. From guidance regarding real food to eat, to alternative therapies. They strived to treat mind, body and spirit and that resonated with Kim.
She embraced her journey with a smile. She LIVED those last 5 years. I mean she LIVED.
CTCA was not close – and she embraced that too. Her first chemo treatment included a trip to a 6 flags with the family – Yep, Kim, Billy, Austin and Zach rode roller coasters after chemo at CTCA.
She went on a couples cruise with her brand new husband with no hair on her head.
She showed her horse. She jumped fences. She rode dressage. She won blue ribbons. She even won the high point of the entire year in 2014 at my LOPE competition in the most competitive division winning a huge belt buckle, all the while flying back and forth to CTCA to get chemo, after chemo.
Her shining smile, captured by friend Jan DeVos, adorns the front cover of the Dec 2014 statewide magazine, Carolina Hoofbeats.
She bought her own motorcycle. She and her husband vacationed at bike week in Myrtle Beach. She even broke her arm on that motorcycle. She said as she flew off the side of the road – “Here I come Jesus” and he said .. “nop, not yet”
She went to nascar races. She went to church. She held her own church services in her heart in the pasture with her horses.
She trained her dog Mia and obtained her therapy license, preparing to help others heal through therapy only animals can offer and she knew that therapy well.
She did all of this while proudly shining teal from head to toe and telling everyone that would listen about the signs of ovarian cancer. About how they should listen to their bodies. If they had even a subtle sign, to listen to it, to demand their doctors listen to them. Our heart sister Frances did this, and it was all because of Kim. She went to her doctor with stomach pains, she insisted on a tumor marker blood test, even though the doctor never thought to suggest it – She had ovarian cancer too and she added precious time to her life thanks to Kim’s guidance. Frances passed less than 3 months ago and I know her spirit has remained very very close to Kim’s.
Frances’ spirit recently guided me to share this scripture with Kim, not long before she passed.
Romans 8:18 “The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with what will be revealed in you.” I felt it such conformation that Frances was telling us just how wonderful it was going to be, on the other side of the veil. I read this scripture to her again during her transition and I know Kim understands it now well beyond our limited human comprehension.
A week before Kim passed she shared with me a vision that she had. She was transitioning over to pure spirit and she saw her Daddy approaching her with two ponies. One for each of them to ride, together, again.
I am certain Frances, as well as Kim’s Daddy, were the first to great her as her spirit wiggled her way free of her physical vessel and jumped up on that pony her Daddy had in hand.
But as much as it seems that she is gone from us. She is not gone.
She is in heaven, but heaven is here. It is not some far away place. It is all around, all within you and I.
LUKE17:21 New Living Translation
“You won’t be able to say, ‘Here it is!’ or ‘It’s over there!’ For the Kingdom of God is already among you.”
I want to close with a poem I wrote for her, for me and for you …
She has gone nowhere.
She is right here, right now. Infinity to infinity.
Her physical vessel had such a glow didn’t it?
It overwhelms me, that glow. I feel it, I see it, it is here – right now.
I feel such power from her glow. I feel it infuse me. She is on my left, on my right, above, below and within – me.
She has gone nowhere.
Kimberly Bullard-Benson, Aunt Kim, KimmieJo. She is, was and will forever be The Miracle.