Kaia loved design. She and her mom were always dressed to the nines and had all the cute accessories. She was a flight attendant which made total sense with her super sweet and confident demeanor, her love of all people, and her amazing worldly style. In the midst of her years of treatment for her metastatic breast cancer we (my brother, sister in law, my husband and I) were in the midst of doing massive renovations of two old buildings, City Brew Hall and then years later 701 eateries. I was her medical oncologist (restaurateur on the side) So when she came in every 2-3 weeks I joke we talked about cancer for 5 minutes and fashion and travel for the other 25 minutes. She always wanted to know what Britt and I were picking out that week for the restaurants.
As she became sicker with her cancer, she talked about what she would do when she couldn’t fly anymore. We decided that she would do events at 701. I was worried with all the delays with permits that we wouldn’t be ready for her when she needed to slow down, but we had a plan and there is good evidence when you have things to look forward to, people with terminal diseases do better. Chemo is not everything and after 16 years of doing this work I am fully aware of that.
Not being from the North side I’m not often aware of the magnitude that people have had on the community, but as I live here longer and longer I start to stitch it together. The Heides are a North Fargo fixture. Her mom, Leah, was a language arts teacher in West Fargo. Her Dad, David, was a teacher at Fargo North for 33 years. He was well known for coaching football but over those 33 years he also coached basketball, swimming, track and volleyball. David and his friends have also hand-carved and delivered thousands of wooden crosses to spread love, peace and comfort to others.
When we opened 701, Kaia had already passed. She was here in spirit though. The Heides are lovers of Norwegian heritage and I knew she had to have a permanent presence. David and Leah, brother Bjorn, SIL Chasity, nephews Henrik, Jens and Soren and her sister Solveig and brother Leif on Facetime came to pick out which table they felt represented Kaia the most. We all agreed the light Scandinavian table with the exact coned white lights above it that Kaia had pinned on her Pinterest board was it.
It’s really hard to describe what it is like taking care of someone that you feel like would be your best friend in another life. The feelings of failure that I had each time something wouldn’t work and the eternally optimistic hope that I had that the next thing would work longer is indescribable. But just as the Heides brought hope and love to so many others in the community, they brought that to me too. Checking in with me to see how I was doing, wanting to be part of 701, bringing me a wooden cross, crying together as we chose which table we think Kaia would choose, and each harvest season bringing us rhubarb and herbs to use at the restaurant. I’m indebted to them for their comfort and support.
We are a collaborator of Bras off Broadway for deep reasons. It is a matter near and dear to our hearts. I know Kaia also would have loved planning this event full of style, great food and drinks and most of all a strong purpose. Kaia fittingly means “Pure of Heart ” in Norwegian. As you look at the table and you see the soft glow of her favorite lights I hope you feel the warmth of Kaia. She’s here in spirit with her huge smile and a glass of wine toasting everyone.