It’s been a week since my last post as I traveled to Fresno for Kishma’s Celebration of Life. It was quite incredible the number of people whose lives she touched. It is hard to believe only 3 weeks have passed. It seems like so much longer.
We traveled to Fresno last Friday and drove back Monday. Staying with Kishma’s family is so nice. They are a really loving group of extremely talented people who are so comfortable with who they are in their worlds.
We picked up Kishma’s ashes too and I have some placed in a necklace to keep her close. Some would consider that morbid but my feelings are different.
I still get this elephant anxiety on my chest when I really think about the fact she is gone. I’m sure I’ll get that for a long time.
The “Celebration of Life” for Kishma was absolutely wonderful. It was held at the Reedley Opera House where Kishma performed when she was able. A really neat place. The room was packed with probably about 50 folks and those were just those that could make it. Jim and I were sitting to one side when one gal came in, looked at me and turned white. I could see her mouth “Oh my god!” to her friend. Then she turned away from me and went over to where they had a great deal of Kishma’s artwork displayed. So I had to step up to her and thank her for coming but she wouldn’t let me say anything. It was funny. She just kept saying, “Oh my god! Oh my god!” and trying not to look at me. She came up to me later thanking me, with hugs and appreciation for my being there. Was a different situation!
My first desire was to sit in a booth behind me or even to the side of it where there was not seating, but everyone else moved towards a table so I sat there but kept getting a pull to turn and sit back behind me. I found out later that Kishma sat there during each play to take notes reviewing how folks did, etc.
The owner/director had a little show set up with three songs and some funny stuff in the middle. The point he was making was that was what Kishma was to him and most of the folks that knew there, she gave them joy and happiness and cared about them. So they opened the whole thing with a song originally by Cass Elliott and I immediately teared up as they had NO idea that was one of Kishma’s and my favorite singers. Then they had a little comedy skit with someone playing Rip Torn and another singer sang “Hero”. The director again said it was indicative of Kishma’s personality to be a hero to those around her because she “saved” so many with her words of encouragement. He said that he loved to hear her laugh. Another funny skit of Phyllis Diller and then they had two individuals sing a song that I had previously heard by Andrea Bocelli and Celine Dion called The Prayer which was absolutely beautiful. They actors did a perfect job. Had me in tears, as were most of those in the room. And they also played a very short clip of Kishma playing in the final scene of My Valentine. A play that goes through the life of a gal and her valentines to her beloved. Kishma played the last scene of the woman using a walker and holding tightly to a valentine, as she tells her beloved, who has already passed, that she would be delivering this valentine herself. It was amazing.
Then folks went up one at a time talking about how Kishma had affected their lives. I was truly blown away. There were people that would have done drugs, been lost, never tried, had it not been for kind words and actions by Kishma. Some of them when they were 14 and now in their mid to late 20’s. Over and over they said what she did for them etc. It was pretty amazing.
We were told a story that Lor, Kishma’s best friend stated at one point, “Kishma did more for the house from a chair than most could do with perfect health and mobility.” To which she stopped and had to explain, “I wasn’t speaking of her “home” house, I was speaking of the haunted house at hobbs grove!” To which the wife of the owner of the theater said,” I thought you were talking about the opera house!” Folks gave tribute to Kishma for probably another hour. Then they finally broke it up and began slowly heading home. I went up to the Director who had pointedly avoided me the entire evening. He would take little glances then turn away. It had to be disturbing for folks. Not something I anticipated but should have. We just didn’t look that much alike anymore but I DO look like she did about 10 years ago, with the extra weight etc. And we sounded alike. So when I went up to thank the director he gave me a hug and told me thank you, it was great I could come, etc, etc. And also thanked me because every time I laughed he could hear Kishma. Now if that doesn’t make one cry….geez. Lots of hugs to folks I didn’t know and lots of happy stories. Was quite a good but difficult night for me. We all love her so much.