Kaya Dube

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“I met Kiersten with Keegan at show choir camp. We didn’t really become friends that year, we just crossed paths. But the next year we were dance partners in a song and that’s when we exchanged numbers & became closer friends.

I remember the first time I ever went to her house, she was having a “going away from Mooresville” party. She was also about to have surgery. So because she’s “extra”, she threw a party. At that point we were pretty close. We were both very interested in music and show choir. We both had a love for Broadway musicals. I remember we came here (Square Cat Vinyl) & we found the Dear Evan Hansen vinyl.

She was really welcoming.
She really opened my eyes to the world of expressing yourself through makeup & fashion. We would have a lot of nights where it would be 1am & we would put on crazy makeup & do photoshoots. I’d try on her clothes & have “fashion shows”. She showed me that I didn’t have to stay in this tiny bubble. That I could express myself through what I look like. I was definitely comfortable being myself with her.

I think growing up in Mooresville schools we both experienced a stereotypical idea of what you have to look like & be. Growing together & breaking that mold of what society thinks we should be, we did that. It was her influence that taught me that. We had this group of friends that were kind of like the “outcasts”. I feel like we were very passionate about our beliefs, we were accepting of all races, all sexualities and we were a diverse group of people.

Kiersten was the first person I ever felt comfortable coming out as bisexual to. It was honestly very funny. You’d think it’d be this big moment but I was like “Hey. I’m bisexual.” & she was like “Hey. That’s cool.”

When she moved to Herron, we still connected everyday through texting or social media. I would text her about everything. Even now, when I think of something, I want to text her. It’s been hard getting used to not texting her. Especially when something big happens. She was always the person I went to first. I think our brains were very similar and I felt like we often reacted to situations the same way.” 

“For me, I had lost touch with a lot of friends at Mooresville after I started at Herron. She was actually the friend that urged me to go to Herron. She knew the struggles I had at Mooresville. She kind of exposed me to this world that I didn’t know was possible for me. I just always thought I’d be at Mooresville until I graduated. It turned out to be the best thing for me. I’ve met amazing people at Herron & being in a more diverse and welcoming environment, it just made me so much happier. Kiersten exposed me to all of that.

Kiersten was very non-confrontational. She had a lot of close bonds. She always had the approach of “I’d rather be friends with you and try to see you get better” than to completely shut someone off. She didn’t have a bad bone in her body. She was forgiving, she was civil. She was there for everyone.

We had an open mic night. My church put it together at a local coffee shop. Kiersten was there and me, her and Elizabeth decided to sing Sincerely Me from Dear Evan Hansen. Elizabeth was Connor, Kiersten was Evan and I was Jared. It’s a funny song and we sang it and butchered it. It was really funny. The musical deals with the struggle of mental illness and Evan’s character has very bad anxiety so I feel like the three of us resonated with that because we’re all anxious teenagers.

One of my last memories with her was last year after Wagon Trails. She came over to my house & just had a normal sleepover. That night she had done her show & then we went to Applebee’s. It was just me and Kiersten. We went to breakfast the next morning and planned to go to Blueberry Hill. It was a Sunday morning so it was really crowded. So we went to McDonalds instead and had pancakes.

She was someone I could talk to. She would just listen. That’s something she taught me. If someone came to me with a problem, I would want to give advice or try to fix it. She just listened & if I wanted advice then she would give it. Her advice usually was to resolve things in a nice & polite way. The affect she had just through seeing the way that she was, made you want to be more like that.”

“The day of the accident, I went to bed really early. I was asleep & hadn’t read any of my texts. When my mom got home, she got a call about the accident. She came & woke me up around 8:30pm that night & told me that Kiersten had gotten into an accident. I was so out of it from being asleep that I just kind of rolled over and didn’t know what she was talking about. I finally woke up and realized what was happening & started crying. I just cried with my mom. I then started calling Kiersten’s friends from Herron so that they hopefully wouldn’t find out through social media.

The last conversation I had with her was the day before her accident about the guy I like (my current boyfriend). She said “If you like him, I like him.” It’s kind of like I got her approval. After that he became my best friend. It was just weird because as one best friend exited my life, a new one entered. Moving to Herron was because of her. I lot of what I have today, I have her to thank for.

I had this helpless feeling the night of her passing. I couldn’t fix this, I couldn’t go back in time. I went to my first class the following morning because it was choir. A lot of those girls were close with Kiersten so I felt like I should be there for them. A lot of people going to school that day, found out that morning. Some girls were coming in to other girls crying and they were asking what was going on. Mr. Riley was there and was very supportive.

I definitely felt alone at first. I had a lot of nightmares and more anxiety the first months after her death. Before her passing, I would text her so much throughout the day. I’d go to the bathroom and text her. Even the tiniest things I knew she would laugh at. Even today, I still have those urges to text her.

To honor her, I would incorporate art into my life as much as possible. There are things that I’d thought about. I’d always pictured her as a bridesmaid on my wedding day. Eventually when I have children, I plan on having some form of Kier as a middle name.

She was nice to everyone, no matter how she felt about them. She wasn’t fake. I think she just wanted peace with everyone. She didn’t like negative energy.” “If I could talk to her again, I would say that I love her and I’m going to do everything I can to keep her memory alive. But I’ll do everything I can to keep her a part of my life.” #FriendsofKier