Gracie Smith

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“The summer going into 6th grade my mom signed me up for volleyball camp at the high school. We weren’t on the same team, but I knew who she was because I had friends who went to elementary school with her. I was standing getting a drink of water & I got hit in the head with a volleyball. Kiersten ran up & said “I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean to hit you!” So that’s how we met.

I started going to Waverly in 6th grade. I was in Mrs. Cox’s class & I didn’t know anyone. When we lined up to go to lunch, Kiersten came up to me and said “Do you want to be my friend?” So that’s how we became friends. She was so outgoing and didn’t really care what people thought of her. Even though she was a total goob, she was just like ‘You seem like a goob too, so we can be friends’.

I always looked up to her because she always put herself out there. She was always herself no matter what. Even though we were the weirdest people in our 6th grade class, it was always her being her and me being me. I didn’t have to be someone I wasn’t around her.

I remember her saying “Hey this band I listen to put out a new song. Do you want to listen to it with me?” So she got me into 5 Seconds of Summer & One Direction. She would invite me over to her house & we’d listen to their music. Then we started going to concerts together. Her mom took us to see One Direction & surprised us with third row seats. We got there & we both cried because we were so lame & such fan girls. But it was so fun.

In middle school, while all the other girls were wearing girly girl clothes, Kiersten & I were wearing band t-shirts & black jeans. We sat in the very back of the cafeteria in a booth next to the trash can. That was OUR booth.

8th grade we went to a ton of concerts! There was a weekend we went to 4 concerts! That was all we did. Anytime either Kiersten or I bought concert tickets, we’d get one for each other. That was just tradition.

We both really liked music. She was talking about how she took guitar lessons. I wanted to take guitar lessons too. I started taking lessons from the same guy. After we first started playing a little, we’d go to her house & play songs together.”

“Freshman year, Kiersten went to Herron. I was super bummed because my best friend wasn’t going to be there everyday. But for Spring Break, we went to New York. Kiersten got me tickets to Hamilton. We started listening to it so we’d have it all memorized. The show was so good that we both cried. But my most distinct memory from New York, was there was this place that had rainbow bagels. We were nowhere near the rainbow bagel place, but Kiersten wanted them so bad. She made all of us walk 20 minutes to get these rainbow bagels. They were normal bagels, they were just colored. She was so jazzed that she got her rainbow bagels.

We grew apart after she went to Herron, but whenever we saw each other it was like we hadn’t missed a minute. We were still best friends & knew everything about each other. We talked all the time.

She was super understanding. You could tell her anything. She related to you, even if she hadn’t gone through the same things as you. She was so kind and went out of her way to make sure you were ok, even if she wasn’t. I went to her homecoming with her sophomore year. Me, Kiersten and Elizabeth got all dolled up and took pictures. Kiersten and I always celebrated birthdays together. 3 years in a row we went to Texas Roadhouse for my birthday. We’d go to the mall downtown. One year, me, Kiersten and Abi got all dressed up and had my mom take polaroids of us inside Circle Center Mall.

Junior year she came back to Mooresville & I was so excited. She tried out for show choir. For auditions, she sang Sign of the Times. She did so good. She made Finesse. I was super jazzed that she was in Finesse because I knew senior year we’d be in Spads together. We also had American Studies together & she sat diagonally in front of me so I got to talk to her everyday. We would always walk to our cars together at the end of the day.

Junior Year we finally started getting back into hanging out, outside of school. We went to see Harry Styles & Panic At the Disco together twice. This year I got tickets to Ariana Grande. It was weird not going with her.”

“When we got to the hospital we just sat in the waiting room. When Jill got there, we were all together when they told us that Kiersten passed away. The cries of Jill when they told her that Kiersten passed, will never leave my mind. It’s stuck in there forever. It was really, really hard for a few months. I couldn’t get it out of my head. That night, I went home after awhile & texted my friends to see if anyone could come over. I didn’t want to sleep alone. My friends showed up at my door & we all just slept in the living room.

At work, there’s a Yellow flyer in the window. My boss asked “Is that a picture of Kiersten or a model?” I told him it was Kiersten. He said “We all thought it was a model.” & the first thing I thought was “I’m going to text Kiersten & tell her they all think she’s a model” but I forgot, I can’t do that. That’s really hard.

I sit in my room & think about her all the time. I talk to her in my head. This is going to sound crazy, but when I go to church, I can feel her hugging me. I feel a comfort. I remember what it felt like hugging her & this feels just like her. I feel like she watches over me. I think the hope of seeing her again one day is what pushes me through.

A life that would honor her would be accepting & kind to everyone. She was the person that let everyone out of the parking lot at school. She was so accepting of everyone no matter what. Also, she always threw herself into what she was doing. Schoolwork, art (especially), music. I’ve always been kind of lazy about that kind of stuff. I realize now, life is short & there’s no need to waste time. I put more effort now into being the best that I can be.

I feel like we weren’t as close at the end, which is a big regret I have. She reached out to me more than I did. I would tell her that I love her & appreciate her coming up to goofy little me in my vest, on the first day of 6th grade. I miss her a lot & I appreciate how her whole family took me in like I was family. I would tell her she gave me an appreciation for music & she opened my heart to other people. She influenced me positively, towards all types of people.”