Life Lessons from an Argument

By kate on January 20th, 2014

My friend of 20+ years, Kim-An Lieberman, recently passed away from cancer.Her husband asked Kim-An’s friends to write letters to her children to share things they remember about her. After some reflection, I chose to share the story of our biggest fight to illustrate a life lesson I began learning from Kim-An and am still working to master.


Dear Cassia, Kellan, and Mireya,

Me & Kim-An, 1995I knew your mother since 1993 when we were in college. While we were at the University of Washington, we taught a few classes together and were roommates for a while too. We did a lot of fun things together, but when I tried to think of a moment to share with you, I thought of our one big fight.

Neither Kim-An nor I were prone to arguing, and we were both pretty reserved. Even through our years living together, we didn’t get really close or connect on an intimate level. We were friends with a lot in common, yet we let our shyness and reticence get in the way of a truly close friendship. I always wanted to be closer, but let my insecurity keep me from risking that step.

When Kim-An graduated in June 1995, she moved to Dayton to live with your dad. As a final send-off to our college years, we decided to take a road trip together to drive her car to Ohio. We drove through Canada and had a lot of fun, laughing at odd trash cans shaped like spaceships and marveling at the weather (a thunderstorm in Regina, powerful winds in Winnipeg).

kim-an-kate-road-trip-1995-06We didn’t have a lot of time so drove about 10 hours a day, then stayed in motels at night. Kim-An spoke to your dad on the phone every night (and every morning, too, I think). I saw the road trip as my last chance to connect with Kim-An, so this made me feel a little jealous that he was getting so much of her attention.

In Dayton, the last night before I was to leave, there was a disagreement about our plans for the night, and we were both upset. I didn’t want to talk about it, hiding in the bathroom instead, but Kim-An begged me to go for a drive with her to talk. We got in her car and drove randomly until we found a parking lot where we could stop. We got out and sat talking on a hill overlooking the freeway in the warm summer night air, illuminated by the orange glow of streetlights.

It wasn’t until we were both so upset that we really opened up to each other. Even though we started by talking about things that made us feel angry and resentful, in the end we understood each other better than we ever had, shared new things about ourselves, and learned that our personalities were similar in many ways we hadn’t even realized. It may sound strange that one of my fondest memories of Kim-An was a fight, but it turned out to be a breakthrough for us, and there’s a lesson in it that I think she would want you to learn.

  • Don’t let the fear of what people think put walls between you and your friends.

  • Don’t be afraid to share scary feelings; even telling someone they hurt you can be positive.

  • Don’t hesitate to be a little nosy with your friends; ask them questions about their innermost feelings.

Years later, I’m STILL working on being good at this, so I know it’s hard. But I believe Kim-An wants you to be bold and deeply connected to your friends and family, so take those risks!

Kate Leroux

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