Today would have been Kristen Hofheimer’s 50th birthday. I remember moving into our new office space in Hilltop a couple of years ago, and her talking about the lease and how old she’d be when it was up. I remember four years ago, the first time she fought (and beat) breast cancer, and how relieved we all were that she was in remission.
Then, two years ago, while I was out on maternity leave, I got a call I never expected: the cancer was back, it was terminal, and Kristen was immediately leaving the firm.
She was told at the time that she had 8 months. She didn’t tell us that; she lived. I heard it later, from someone else. She went camping – or “glamping”, as she would say. She went to a Beyonce concert. She went to Italy. She spent time with her family, and witnessed the birth of her first grandson, Nova. She watched her wife, Missy, compete in a worldwide downhill biking championship. She danced. Well, to be fair, she danced, like, a LOT, both before and after the diagnosis. She rode horses, and sometimes even did yoga with them. She visited friends and family, and made plans to take care of the people she loved most in the world. In her words, she plucked all the fruit she could from the tree of life.
She lived two years past the diagnosis, far surpassing what the doctors expected. She was a miracle.
I find it hard to write about her, because my words just don’t do her justice. I also find it hard to NOT write about her, because, for me, and for the firm, her influence is felt every single day. The choices she made, the ideas she expressed to me, come to mind every single day as I practice law. I was fortunate enough to find a home here, and I know that a lot of that is thanks to the influence of Kristen.
Our Kristen D. Hofheimer Memorial Scholarship is new. We wanted to do something, both to help support other women who intend to make their lives into what they always hoped they would be like, and also to honor Kristen’s legacy – and this is what stuck.
This year, our scholarship theme is “my next great adventure” as a tribute to Kristen. I won’t lie, it also made Albus Dumbledore’s quote spring to my mind, and, as a HUGE Harry Potter fan, it also felt fitting: “After all, to the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.” Fortunately for many of us, death is NOT the adventure we’re up against next – but it does make me smile to think that Kristen is out there, adventuring somewhere else. And also, it points out the possibilities still left to the rest of us still fortunate enough to be living and breathing and making changes in our lives.
Divorce can be challenging, and it certainly changes things. I’ve never heard someone say, “I got divorced, and it didn’t impact me at all.” It’s a tremendous change in a million different ways, both big and small. Our hope is that this scholarship will help divorced and divorcing Virginia women do what they need to do to shape their lives into what they hoped their lives would look like — like Kristen did. I think Kristen was living a pretty special life even before her cancer diagnosis, but there’s no question that afterwards her hunger for life and experiences was pretty unequaled. There’s definitely something to be learned from her and from her legacy.
If you’re divorced or in the process of getting divorced and you’re thinking about going back to school, I definitely encourage you to apply. There’s still about a month left for your application, so, while there’s not time to drag your feet, there is still time to put something awesome together. Head’s up: it’s a video essay competition, with the “my next great adventure” theme. The deadline for applications is May 15th and, after that, we’ll select the 5 best to be featured on our Facebook page – and we’ll open it up for voting from the public!
Today, on Kristen’s birthday, my thoughts automatically turn to her. I’m so proud that we have this amazing way to honor her legacy, and I hope that you’ll consider participating in our scholarship competition. For more information, to see whether you’re eligible, or to apply, visit our website at hoflaw.com/scholarship/. If you have any more questions, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Good luck, and I hope to hear from you soon!