Some time after December 24th, Kim Parsell died in her home, in bed. I do not know how she died, but seeing how we can draw no lessons from the circumstances of her passing, the facts of how are not germane to the life she lived.
And what a life did she live!
So many of us in the WordPress community know her as #wpmom, and we have given her that title for good reason. She was the wet blanket who threw herself on the fire of drama. She brought people together and had the salty, country-gal personality who would not put up with your bullSHIT and yet would never break one rule of ettiquette in the process of letting you know.
I remember when, in the closing hour of WordCamp Baltimore 2012, she handled a situation with a very disgruntled guest who got on my nerves. She was a professional, and she helped me keep my professionalism intact.
Many of you know her from working on the Documentation team at WordPress.org; I know her as the friend I met at some WordCamp or the other but who’s always stayed in touch. She always checked in to make sure I was doing okay, especially during times of personal crisis. She made an effort to be there for the people who wanted her to be there; and was genuinely sad when she could not make it to an event she’s committed to.
Kim was a dreamer. There are confidences that even her death won’t allow me to break, but she had aspired to shift gears a little and make a living in technical writing; her work for the WP Docs Team was her avenue to prove the value of documentation, and I am crushed, absolutely crushed, that she never got the chance to see that dream through. We are not owed our dreams, but she worked hard to make them happen.
And isn’t that what the whole point of Kim Parsell is? “Keep your head down and kick ass,” she told me once. “The recognition will come, and even if it doesn’t, you know you worked hard.” She never spoke of herself as other than “the little ol’ crazy lady at the top of a hill in Ohio,” and she was always gracious in accepting recognition of any kind that was beyond that self-image of hers.
I am still grieving over her death. When I got the news last night, and was told to keep it on the down-low, I couldn’t help but but unleash a passive-aggressive stream of tweets. I was growl-screaming in my living room while chatting with my closest friends who also knew the news. I felt regret at every invitation to WC Columbus that I didn’t take, knowing that she had made an effort to go to every WordCamp we held in Baltimore. I am sad that I won’t ever get to share cigarettes with her anymore, and that she won’t ever talk my ears off about anything and everything under the sun. But I also know that this is not how she would want me to react. “You’re fussing over me too much,” she would say.
And she is exactly right. However, I get to say goodbye but once.
Goodbye, my friend. It’s so very, very nice to have known you.