November 12, 2020

Kym and me.

One can say a heck of a lot about Kymberli Barney. Beyond her family and friends, Kym touched many people with her gifts. I'm sifting through my memories of her and it actually blows my mind not only how much she accomplished, but also the precious communities she blessed with her heart. It's not a surprise to see how loved she was. I only met Kym in person once, but I first got to know her as a fellow blogger, and so that's what I'll spring from here.

To be a blogger, and to spark and nurture the very specific kind of friendship that exists on the Internet, is a new and divergent behaviour in the realm of human connection. It's a relationship that can expand very quickly from casual witticisms to sharing the intimate intricacies of our lives. Like pen pals on steroids, thanks to technology. Quite often bloggers share the subtle nuances of hopes and fears with their blogging community that they may never feel safe or comfortable sharing with In Real Life loved ones. The intensity of such a friendship has baffled those who exist in-person; how can you feel this depth of caring for someone you've never met?

How, indeed? The written word is powerful, and so are drawings. Words and pictures open doors. And that's pretty much what happened with Kym and me.

It was 2011. There I was, happily blogging my drawings right here, when some lady called The Smartness started waving at me on Twitter. She said she'd drawn me (usually it's me who draws people) and put it on her blog and was terrified that I'd be mad. 

Kym's drawing of me, on a mug. I'm actually terrified to break it now.

Well. As if. LOL.
I clicked the link and promptly fell in love.

Kym had dubbed me an Honorary Gangsta in her drawing, complete with baddass attitude and hefty bling. Gangstas and Bling were identifiers she often invoked in her writing to connect her readers, and sometimes as a trope to push a point, as only a Black woman could. Kym's sense of humour was both mightily sophisticated and steeped in the Brew of the Potty; damn she was funny. I can't count the number of times she showed herself out. 

That's how it started. Kym drew me, and in so doing, drew me to her. I drew her right back and sealed the deal, Gangsta 101

As Kym would say: WORD.

What I saw in Kym was a kindred creative spirit. Her humility, thoughtfulness, curiosity and sheer brains, it all shone through in her writing. She was a natural leader, organizing fundraisers and support for others. We put our heads and hearts together on projects, as friends and bloggers, as teachers and artists, as mothers and wives. She inspired me. Kym was generous with her light

The rest was history. Eight years of comments on blog posts and social media, advice asked and given by email, endless meandering conversations via private messages. Always there, just one click away. Even when she got sick. I did my best to make her laugh.

Radio Kym!


I told her I loved her. She said she loved me too. And then she was gone. 


Kym had often ninja-posed for photos after some of her cancer treatments. When her mum asked me to draw a cartoon of Ninja Kym to print on their Celebration-Of-Life t-shirts, I thought about drawing her in the usual way: cute, hilarious and kicking cancer's ass. Kym was funny but she was beautiful too, and so much more than a simple stick-figure cartoon could convey. 

So I went with my super-hero style; classic ninja pose, ascending with dreamy heart-shaped radial wings, and a halo, the ultimate Bling.

Did you know Kym?


  1. She was the best of the very best humans I know.

    1. She truly was.

      And just let me say you rank right up there in my books. Love you.

  2. Love Kym. Fun fact - she created my very first Thoughts From Paris logo. She reached out because she saw that I wanted a new logo and just did it out of the goodness of her heart. She was the BEST.

  3. She was great - I missed her when she faded away from blogging.

    1. Me too... the blogging is not like it used to be. Her words are all still there, mostly. Some of the images seem to be gone, but the words remain.