They first laid eyes on one another in the spring of 1986, when they were both admitted to the cystic fibrosis wing of Dallas’ Presbyterian Hospital. Kimberley Marshall was then sixteen, thin and winter-pale and beautiful, her red hair falling down the back of her pink nightgown patterned with little white hearts. David Crenshaw was eighteen; he wore his usual hand-me-down T-shirt and faded gray pajama pants and oversized glasses that turned dark in the sunlight. David would stand at one end of the hospital hallway, hoping Kim would come out of her room at the other end.
“No way,” the wing’s respiratory therapist, Doug Kellum, would say. “No way she’s going to look twice at you.”
Kim was known among the nurses as the princess. She came from a polished North Dallas family. She loved Tiffany perfume, Lancôme makeup, and clothes from Neiman Marcus. She would sit for hours in her hospital bed, reading romance novels. David, on the other hand, was famous for his bad grammar and coarse jokes. When a female nurse walked past his room, he would lean forward in his bed and shout, “Shake it, baby, don’t break it.” On Saturday nights when he wasn’t in the hospital, he raced midget cars at a local dirt track. “Can you name just one other race car driver in this country with cystic fibrosis?” he proudly asked Kellum. “Let me tell you, there ain’t one.”
“She still isn’t going to talk to you,” Kellum replied.
It was hard enough to imagine a love affair developing between two cystic fibrosis patients, let alone one between Kim and David. A baffling genetic disorder that produces a sticky phlegmlike mucus that clogs the lungs and digestive tracts, CF afflicts at least 30,000 young Americans—1 out of every 2,000 people. Sometimes the disease kills quickly, choking the air out of bewildered little children. Other times it attacks when its victims are in their teens or twenties, causing respiratory infections, pneumonia, dehydration, and gastrointestinal complications. Like a brilliant serial killer, CF is unstoppable: Although an array of pulmonary treatments and medicines now allows patients to live more productive, pain-free lives, few survive into their thirties. As one doctor has said, trying to get rid of the mucus is like sweeping spilled molasses off the floor with a broom.
Nevertheless, Kim Marshall did finally go out on a date with David Crenshaw. Then, six months later, to the shock of their families, friends, and doctors, Kim and David announced their engagement.
“Both of you are sick,” David’s father told him, pleading with his son to reconsider. “You’re sick! You two can’t possibly take care of yourselves.”
“Do you realize what will happen?” Kim’s mother asked her tearfully. “Do you realize that one of you is going to die in the other’s arms?”
Staring down such a death sentence, 21-year-old Kim Marshall wobbled down the aisle of Lovers Lane United Methodist Church in Dallas on October 27, 1990, and declared her love for 23-year-old David Crenshaw—the first known marriage in America between CF patients. To some in attendance, the wedding was a rash, starry-eyed act of youth. “They’ve set themselves up for a tragedy,” a fellow patient told me.
Kim and David, however, insisted that they had a right to be together—“just like normal people,” Kim said not long after the wedding, when I interviewed her for a story about CF. Indeed, three years later, by the time it was all over, everyone had to agree that theirs had been a love story like no other.
On the cystic wing of presbyterian’s third floor, about a dozen teenagers and young adults inhabit private rooms. Just as old people pass the time watching street traffic from the windows of their apartments, the cystics (as they are known) spend hours peering out of their half-opened doors into the hallway. Throughout the day, they receive vast amounts of antibiotics through intravenous injections. Some have thin oxygen tubes running into their noses; others use more-elaborate machines to open their bronchial passages. Respiratory therapists pound lightly on their chests and backs, hoping to dislodge the mucus in their lungs. And always there is the sound of coughing—dry, flinty coughing, spasms of coughing, the sound echoing up and down the corridor like a cold car engine trying to start.
Despite the dreary setting, however, the third floor can feel a little like summer camp, especially for those who have spent months confined mostly to their own homes. It’s the one place, for example, where young patients can experience their first fumbling encounters with romance. “You assume that because CF kids look so weak, they don’t have much of a sex drive,” says Robert Kramer, Dallas’ veteran cystic fibrosis doctor. “Good God, they probably think about it more than regular people. It’s their way of affirming to themselves that they are alive and kicking.” Like characters out of an old Broadway sex farce, a cystic guy and girl, smelling of medicine and IV drips, carrying their portable oxygen bottles, will clumsily sneak into stairwells or empty rooms for make-out sessions—or more. On occasion, two cystics will announce to the rest of the floor that they are dating. “But it’s never real serious dating,” says 22-year-old Kim Cole, a third-floor regular. “I mean, we’d all like to fall in love, but marriage? It just seems so unrealistic.”
When Kim Marshall came to Presbyterian in the mid-eighties, she knew she was fortunate just to be alive. The doctors had been expecting her to die since the day she was born, July 10, 1969, when she took her first breath and immediately began to throw up a black-green mucus. Kim was wheeled into the operating room, where surgeons saved her by removing four feet of her intestine. But Kramer, who was then a young pediatrician—and the first doctor in Dallas to specialize in CF—informed Kim’s mother, Dawn, that it was only a temporary reprieve. At that time, before the advents of more-advanced treatments, 50 percent of kids born with CF were dead by the first grade; 80 percent were dead by their teens.
“This isn’t supposed to happen to us,” Dawn told Kramer. Dawn, a beautiful young housewife, and her husband, budding aeronautical engineer Bill Marshall, were a popular couple who attended Dallas debutante parties and saw their picture printed on the society pages of the Dallas Morning News. “All of a sudden,” she recalls, “it was like our lives stopped and we couldn’t start again.”
Desperate to keep Kim alive, Dawn carried her on a pillow and put her to bed in a mist tent. For a total of three hours a day, she gently thumped on her chest and back. Kim’s skin was as white as a dove’s breast, and her bones stuck out so sharply in her arms that it seemed as if they would puncture her skin. To the astonishment of her doctors, however, she eventually became strong enough to go to elementary school. She even took ballet classes and joined a girl’s soccer team, the Goslings. After lamely kicking the soccer ball, she would stop and stare at her fingernails and make sure her beloved uniform was not dirty. “There goes the princess,” a delighted Dawn would shout from the sidelines, momentarily allowing herself to feel as normal as the other mothers. Suddenly she imagined Kim to be normal too, the kind of girl who might go to her high school dance and lift her head dreamily at the end of the night, as a boy gave her her first kiss.
But then came the days when Kim’s body seemed to deflate, just like a rubber toy with a hole in it, and Dawn would return her to the hospital, wondering if this time she would be too sick to recover. The routine became all too familiar: a few months of remission followed by a trip to the CF wing. Kim always brought along her stuffed animals, her favorite pink blanket, and her diary. As the children in the rooms around her would die, one by one, Kim would write down her impressions (“Wendy Winkles died at 8:10 this morning! She suffered all night. It’s better this way. Poor little thing”). “Kim was always so optimistic, so willing to smile,” Dawn says. “I think the diary was her way of preparing herself for what she knew would someday happen to her.”
For a while, Kim did what she could to be like the “normals” (her nickname for kids without CF). In high school, she made A’s and B’s and always dressed superbly, wearing tea-length dresses to hide her spindly legs. If classmates asked why she had coughing spells, she would say she was suffering from asthma. In her Ford Mustang, she would pick up other cystic girls who were strong enough to leave their houses and drive up and down Forest Lane, the North Dallas teenage drag, honking her horn and waving at boys. Because she looked so healthy through the car window—she had a jubilant grin that spread completely across her face—high school boys were always trying to get her phone number. Still, she could not ignore the reality of her life. She noticed that people looked twice at her thin body and narrow feet. Her digestive system was so clogged with mucus that she suffered painful attacks of diarrhea. (During a date to a church party with a Texas A&M student—the first college boy to ask her out, she excitedly told her friends—she had an “accident” and rushed home in tears.) To make matters worse, she developed a neurological disorder, which affected her balance and distorted her perception. On two occasions, she lost control of her car, driving it onto the median. Sometimes she listed sideways as she walked down a school hallway, collapsing into the lockers. Finally, during her senior year, she grew so weak that she had to stop attending classes and finish her course work at home. Just as her mother feared, she never got to go to a high school dance. In perhaps her lowest moment, Kim asked that her picture not be shown in the 1987 high school annual. “I look like one of those starvation victims,” she said.
Kim became so despondent that Kramer recommended she see a psychiatrist. She also stopped speaking to her younger brother and sister (twins who were adopted because her mother did not want to risk giving birth to another CF child). Over and over, she watched a videotape of The Blue Lagoon, the story of an adolescent boy and girl who are stranded on an island and fall in love. After Dawn and Bill Marshall divorced—a common occurrence among CF parents, whose relationships often break under the pressure of caring for their children—Kim went through a rebellious streak. She began smoking cigarettes, two packs of Marlboros a night, even though she knew the smoke would harm her already weak lungs. After wrecking her car, she would sneak her mother’s car out at night, racing it up and down Forest Lane or the Dallas North Tollway.
One night, at the end of her rope, Dawn finally screamed, “What is the matter with you? Why are you trying to destroy yourself?” Kim buried her face in her hands and began to sob. “You know what’s the matter,” she said. “I have no life. You know I’ll never have a life.”
Dawn, who always tried to have a soothing answer for her daughter, for once couldn’t think of anything to say.
For two years he stared at her. He would walk past her door, working up the courage to pop in and say hello. Kim would look at him in his tennis shoes, his blue jeans, and his white T-shirt, his eyeglasses held together by a piece of tape, and with a brief smile she would go back to reading her book.
Undaunted, David Crenshaw called his cousin Larry. “Larry,” he said, “she’s good lookin’. I mean good lookin’.”
Loud, robust, and hefty (his size-36 waist was gargantuan for a cystic), David was something of a legend on the third floor. No one had ever heard of a cystic doing the things he did—winning, for instance, DFW Speedway’s 1986 rookie-of-the-year honors in the midget racer division. “Our goal was to raise him as if he weren’t sick,” says David’s father, Big David Crenshaw, a manufacturing coordinator at Texas Instruments who acted as his son’s crew chief during the dirt-track races. “Maybe I just didn’t want to admit he had a disease. Maybe I thought if he stayed tough enough, he could beat it.”
In truth, except for a bout with pneumonia early in his childhood, David never did act particularly sick. He was more of a prankster, a cystic version of Randle P. McMurphy from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. In the third-floor hallway, he conducted wheelchair races and tomato-throwing competitions (using the tiny cherry tomatoes that adorned hospital food trays). He led an expedition of fellow cystics up the back stairs to the fourth floor, where they stared through a glass window at the patients in the psychiatric ward. One night, in 32-degree weather, he took some cystics to a go-cart track. “He had this damned sense of immortality about him,” Kramer remembers. “I’d get so pissed off when he’d work around those hot rods and in those garages. I’d say, ‘David, here I am trying to save your life and you’re out killing yourself.’ Just to irritate me, he’d give me this grin and say something ungrammatical like, ‘Oh, Doc, I ain’t hurting a bit.’ ”
About the only time David fell silent was when he saw Kim. “He was her secret admirer,” Kellum says. “It was sort of sweet. When she was in the hospital and he was at home, he’d call me to find out how she was doing. He was always looking after her—even when she wouldn’t give him the time of day.”
For months and months, David waited patiently as Kim was courted by other third-floor boys: blond-haired boys, sophisticated boys, richer boys. In late 1988, Kim began an on-again-off-again relationship with David’s close friend Steve, a hip CF patient who was the first male on the wing to get an earring. “I knew it wasn’t going to work out,” a cocky David told me. “They were afraid of commitment.” Indeed, as that relationship faltered, David took Kim aside and said, “Steve isn’t treating you right. You need something better in your life.”
Early in the fall of 1989, when he and Kim were out of the hospital, David made his move: He called her at home and asked her to dinner. Although she said no, David declared, “I’ll be there at eight p.m., no buts about it,” and then hung up. Horrified, Kim brought along Petri Brill, the daughter of a successful real estate appraiser her mother was about to marry. Kim made Petri sit with David in the front seat of his two-door 1972 Chevelle hardtop; she sat in the back, refusing to speak. She also remained silent throughout dinner and gave David a tortured look when he suggested they go dancing at a nightclub. When he took her home, Kim leapt out of the car, ran to her room, and shut the door. “She had always told me she didn’t like David, because he was too sarcastic and chauvinistic,” Petri recalls. “I mean, she was the princess and he was the middle-class guy with dirt under his fingernails. Still, I could just tell it was going to work.”
David kept showing up at Kim’s house. He took her to Sound Warehouse to buy tapes. He took her bowling. He took her to watch him race. While she sat nervously on the metal bleachers at DFW Speedway—“Oh, God,” she said to those around her, “he’s going to die!”—David would speed around the track; then, after the race, he would blow her a kiss. “What I’ll never forget,” Doug Kellum says, “is that he bought some new clothes to impress her. He once showed up at the hospital wearing black jeans and a black shirt open to the navel, and a blue-and-black shirt underneath that, and I was thinking, ‘Oh, man, where is that dude shopping?’ ”
Despite seemingly impossible circumstances, love bloomed. On November 17, 1989, after her usual diary entries about her friends’ deaths, Kim wrote: “Tonight, David and I went out to the picnic tables in back of the hospital and kissed for the first time … I have so many deep feelings for him because he is also my buddy, best friend, supporter, and he loves me as much as I him. God, please let this relationship work out. Love, Kim.”
“I think Kim realized this was going to be the last chance she had to experience love,” Dawn says. “I still thought it was a little crazy. I had all those motherly questions about how they could handle their finances and insurance if they got married and who would take care of them if they both got too sick to get out of bed. But one day the chaplain at Presbyterian told me, ‘Dawn, we don’t know how long they have on this earth. At least let them have it together.’ And I said, ‘You’re right.’ ”
On Kim and David’s wedding day, the church was filled with the sound of coughing, as Dallas’ CF community came out to see them vow to stay with each other in sickness and in health. “There was a beautiful eeriness to the moment,” says Kramer, who sat close to the front, next to six mothers who had buried their own cystic children. Ushers had two stools ready for Kim and David in case they needed to sit down. But as everyone later said, Kim had never looked healthier or more beautiful. The shoulder pads in her wedding dress gave her body a fuller look. Her complexion was even a little pink.
After checking into the local hotel where they spent their wedding night, David asked the bellman to carry their oxygen bottles up to their room. “We might need them,” he said with a confident grin, “in case we get too excited.”
They lived on their meager monthly disability checks. Their one-bedroom apartment resembled a hospital room: It was crammed with oxygen tanks and boxes of syringes and medicines, and the refrigerator was stocked with IV bottles. Domestic tasks were made difficult by their inability to get around like normals. They needed a day to clean the apartment and do the laundry. Kim was too weak to lift the mattress and change the sheets. At the grocery store, she shuffled slowly down the aisles, carrying her portable oxygen bottle with the tubes stuck up her nostrils. Once, after a butcher wouldn’t touch anything she had just touched, she told David they should print up a T-shirt that said, “We don’t have AIDS. We have CF.” By nighttime, they were exhausted. Kim would lie on the couch, while David would recline beside her in his easy chair.
Yet they kept insisting that they were happier than they ever could have imagined. He had nicknamed her Tigger (from the children’s book Winnie-the-Pooh) because of her red hair; she had nicked him Bear because he was cuddly. He was constantly buying her huge four-color Hallmark cards, the mushier the better. She, in turn, would write him long love letters (“We are going to conquer the unconquerable”). At times, David and Kim were a comically opposite couple. He would stack his racing trophies on a lamp table; she would replace them with wedding photos. He would say he wanted hamburgers and fish sticks; she would set the dining-room table with Waterford crystal and cook elaborate meals from her Helen Corbitt cookbook. But whenever they got into a spat—if David got mad at Kim for spending $50 on a haircut or if she got mad at him for spending money on race car parts—they made up by sending each other another round of lavish cards and letters.
To earn extra income, David worked rebuilding race cars at a neighborhood garage. He also enrolled at a junior college to get an accounting degree. One of his closest cystic friends, Richard Johnson, warned him it was impossible to keep up such a pace: “I said, ‘David, you know the disease will catch up to you.’ And David just said, ‘Well, I’ve got to do this for Kim. There isn’t anything in my life but her.’ ”
By 1992, however, Kim was taking a turn for the worse. She had been stuck with IV needles so many hundreds of times that her veins had collapsed. One of her lungs had collapsed as well. Her clogged digestive system was causing constant diarrhea. She was losing feeling in her fingers and toes and had begun to walk with even more of a staggering gait. Because her body was unable to absorb food, she was rapidly losing weight. She became ashamed to show herself in public. “Tigger,” David wrote her in a letter, “I love your body just the way it is. Your perfect body puts mine to shame! You are the most beautiful woman I know inside and out. I love you with all my heart and soul! Please believe me! Love always, Bear.”
David never left Kim’s side during her frequent trips to the hospital. At night, he slept on a cot in her room. Because she was so weak, he held the blow dryer to dry her hair. To entertain her, he wheeled her over to the hospital’s maternity ward so she could look at the newborn babies. If she wanted butterscotch candy in the middle of the night, he drove to a store and bought her some.
When Dawn would arrive on the third floor, wondering once again whether Kim would recover, Kim would always say, “I’m getting better.” Amazingly, her condition would improve, allowing her to return home for another few months. “She ought to be on American Gladiators,” David once told me. “She’s a fighter and a babe.”
But in early 1993 something changed: David’s cough. It was different, Kim realized. Previously muffled and listless, like the sound of two rocks being scraped together, David’s cough was growing louder and deeper. His face would turn purple; the veins in his neck would protrude. One afternoon, a nurse named Dana Thompson dropped by to see them. Kim was watching a soap opera while David sat quietly in his chair. Dana noticed that David didn’t tease her the way he usually did. He just kept staring at one of the actors on TV. Finally he blurted out, “I wish I was that handsome.”
“I said ‘David, you are handsome,’ ” Dana remembers. “But I looked at him again and I realized he was changing. His face was getting puffy from fluid retention. He used to lift weights, and now all the muscles in his arms were gone. Kim just gave me this sad look. And I thought to myself, ‘My God, my God, it’s David who’s going to die first.’ ”
David tried to assure Kim that there was nothing to worry about; he told her that he only needed to build his strength back up. As he pointed out, he had already stopped racing and quit his job at the machine shop. He was breathing with the assistance of a portable oxygen machine. What David neglected to mention was what Kramer had said after a recent checkup: The disease, which had been mostly dormant, had unexpectedly ambushed him. His lungs were becoming stiff with scar tissue. His bronchial tubes were closing up. His heart was not pumping enough oxygenated blood. If the assault continued, David would lose more and more oxygen and slowly start choking to death.
It was a race against time. David said he would not waste a single moment: In July, to celebrate their birthdays—David’s twenty-sixth, Kim’s twenty-fourth—he insisted that they take the week-long Florida vacation that they had always talked about. “Only once did they feel good enough to leave the condo and go to the beach,” says Kim’s sister, Mandy, who traveled with them. “They both carried their portable oxygen tanks. Kim couldn’t get too deep into the water because of her balance problems, and David couldn’t get in because of his lack of strength. They finally just sat on the beach and let the waves roll up to their feet. They knew it would be the last time they didn’t have a care in the world. People would walk by and stare, but Kim and David just looked at one another, holding hands.”
Three months later, David and Kim went to see Kramer for a checkup. While Kim waited in another room, Kramer studied David’s oxygen levels. David couldn’t say more than two or three words without needing to take a breath. “You’ve got to go into the hospital,” Kramer said. “And this time, I don’t think you’ll be coming out.”
David managed only one response: “Make sure Kim is okay.”
Kramer walked across the hall to tell her. After a long silence, she asked if David could go home for one more night, back to their little one-bedroom apartment, where she could cook him a meal. When Kramer softly said no, Kim dropped her head and tried not to cry. “Don’t let him suffer, Dr. Bob,” she said. During thirty years as a specialist in CF, Kramer had watched more than four hundred of his young patients die. For his own sanity, he distanced himself emotionally from cases like David’s. But at that moment, he gathered Kim in his arms and wept.
David was admitted to the hospital on the afternoon of Wednesday, October 21. A showman to the end, he tried to make his mother laugh by reminding her of the time they were fishing and she accidentally hooked her lure in his hat. He and his father swapped auto-racing stories. When an aunt and uncle shuffled in meekly, David said, “I guess you’re wondering why I’ve called you here.” The couple uncomfortably cleared their throats. “It has come to my attention,” he continued, “that you owe me some money.”
Throughout the ordeal, Kim sat by David’s side. She tried to write a letter to Medicare officials, begging them to consider him for a lung transplant—a risky $250,000 operation tried as a last resort on a few CF patients—but she never got to finish. By Monday, David’s lips and fingernails were turning blue, and nurses had put an oxygen mask over his face. When they brought in a morphine machine to relieve some of the pain, Kim knew it was over.
“David, not yet,” she said, but he was unable to speak. All he could do was mouth “I love you” to his young wife and blow her a kiss. Just outside the door was the usual noise of the hospital: carts rolling by, people moving with quickened footsteps, doctors speaking in half-finished sentences. But at the bed, Kim and David stared at each other in silence, exchanging one long look of grief and love.
He died at 5:50 a.m. on October 26. Kim was the only one in the room. She wiped off his face with a tissue and then called for the nurse.
She had told everyone—her mother, the doctors, and everyone at the hospital—that she wanted to live. She said that she knew David would not want her to give up. She and Dawn even talked about attending a performance of The Nutcracker over the Christmas holidays.
But within 24 hours of David’s funeral Kim collapsed while taking a shower. She got up, walked to the kitchen, and fell again. “Her mouth was like that of a fish out of water,” Dawn says. “I could see the vein throbbing in her neck as she tried to get her breath, but I had no idea how to help her.” She managed to put Kim into bed, where she lay in semi-darkness, staring at a photograph on her nightstand of David with his arms around her.
It was all happening so quickly, a panicked Dawn thought. It was too cruel. Kim was just beginning to mourn her husband’s death; now she had to deal with her own death. Dawn put her daughter in the car and took her back to the third floor of Presbyterian. Kim, in her favorite pink nightgown with white hearts clutched her pink blanket. She said to her mom that it felt just like the old days. Two of her cystic girlfriends, in rooms across the hall, came in to see her, trying to speak with even, cheerful voices. Disguising a sob as a cough, one of them said they would all soon be out and driving around Forest Lane. Kim leaned up and kissed her on the cheek.
Those who knew Kim well said there was something mysterious and haunting about her final days. “To me, it was Romeo and Juliet all over again,” Kramer says. “I know it sounds sentimental, but this really was a story of star-crossed love.” After Kramer stopped by to see Kim for the last time, he led Dawn and Kim’s father, Bill, out to the hallway and offered a decidedly unmedical diagnosis. “Her body is giving up,” he told them. “It’s like she’s dying of a broken heart.”
When friends and relatives came to say good-bye, Kim whispered that she felt like she was getting better. In fact, her eyes were the color of ash, and her weight was down to sixty pounds. “Mom,” she told Dawn, “I’m sorry I’m taking so long this time.” Dawn walked to a corner of the room, not wanting her daughter to see her cry.
Then David’s parents came. In some ways, Big David and Mary Crenshaw had misgivings about what had happened to their son. They believed their only child would still be alive if he hadn’t gotten married, if he had spent more time taking care of himself. They had told others that David had sacrificed himself for Kim. But now, looking at her, they told her that they knew she had made their son happy.
Kim was semi-comatose for the last two days of her life. The only sound in her room was the hiss of the oxygen machine. It will never be known for sure why one of her good friends lying in a room down the hall, suddenly awoke at three in the morning on November 11 and called for a nurse. “I feel like something’s happening,” the friend said, scared. A couple of minutes later, Kim regained consciousness, opened her eyes, and began speaking in a kind of mumble—a peaceful, cooing kind of sound that no one could fully understand. A nurse in the room said it sounded as if Kim was talking to David. “Kim, what is it?” said Dawn, who was resting on a cot at the foot of the bed. But Kim had shut her eyes and died, still clutching her pink blanket.
She was buried in her white wedding dress. On her wrist was a watch that David had given her for Christmas; she wore ruby earrings, also a gift from David. She was placed beside her husband in a new section of Restland Cemetery. Despite his limited income, David had been paying $47 a month for that plot ever since he and Kim were married. He had said it was important for him to know that they had a final resting place together. Their tombstone read: “David S. (Bear) Crenshaw and Kimberley (Tigger) Crenshaw … Together forever. Married three years.”
For weeks afterward, Dawn halfheartedly sorted through their possessions, trying to decide what to keep and what to give away. When people called with condolences, she wasn’t sure what to say. She wanted to tell everyone how much she missed caring for her sick daughter. She also wanted to say how relieved she was that she would not have to endure such agony again. She wanted to say that she was happy Kim and David no longer suffered. But she also was sad they had been given so little time together.
Perhaps Dawn found some solace one afternoon while going through some of Kim’s papers. She came across the last card David sent Kim before he died. “We are close even when we are apart,” the front of the card read. “Just look up. We are both under the same starry sky.”