“We met on the first day of kindergarten. She lived really close to me, so we ended up riding the same bus. She was already on the bus when I got there. Our bus driver, Joy, said “You girls can go ahead & sit next to each other!” I remember being so excited because I didn’t know anyone going into school. We were automatically close. We had a lot in common like Hello Kitty & Highschool Musical. We were sad because we didn’t have the same teacher, but riding the bus to school & home was always time that we spent together.
My first sleepover was at Kiersten’s house. It was Olivia first sleepover as well. We hung out with Lainie & her mom got us junk food & that was the first time we were all together. I wasn’t afraid to go over there at all, I was really excited..
I vividly remember in kindergarten we were playing at recess & it blew my mind when she told me this, but Kiersten said, “When I get older I want to dye my hair black & have green highlights.” & I remember thinking, “Oh my gosh you should not do that.” It’s funny though because as we got older she had purple hair, pink hair & red hair & I always thought she looked good with all those colors. It was cool that she knew who she wanted to be so young. She would wear the most crazy things & I always admired it. .
In first grade we had Mrs. Pendil together. That was when people first started calling me Katy because there was another Katelyn in the class. Kiersten was actually the one that encouraged me to be called something different. Ever since then everyone called me Katy. We also had the same teacher in 2nd grade. There were about 13 kids altogether in that class so Kiersten & I were stuck like glue, Olivia had that class with us as well. Back then everybody was friends with everyone, but I remember Kennedy hanging with us as well as Sydney. Kiersten was friends with all the girls & the boys, she was super nice to everybody.
What I specifically remember about Kiersten was that she always did the right thing. That made me want to be better even as a kid because I would think to myself, ”Wow, she just has the highest regard for others.” She always wanted to do things for other people. She was nice to everyone even when they said things they shouldn’t have. I don’t think Kiersten ever got in arguments like that with people. I thought it was crazy how good she was all the time, especially considering how old she was.
Around fourth grade we started getting super close with each other along with our other friend, Josie. That was kind of the new gang. I had the same class as Josie, but Kiersten was in the other class. She was so good at making friends & I wanted to be with her all time, but we were still super close regardless.
We didn’t have any classes together in 5th & 6th grade but we definitely still stayed pretty close. We had the type of relationship where even if it had been a while since we talked it was like nothing had ever changed. We did grow apart a little bit. It was mostly because we had different interests. Kiersten was more into boy bands, art, & gaming. I was more into girly & pop culture types of things.”
“In middle school Kiersten, Ross & I still lived by each other so we would all hangout on the bus. We only had one class, so we would always catch up with one another on the bus. We would watch weird videos on the bus & take weird videos of Ross because he was always acting crazy. We didn’t hangout outside of school too much in 7th grade.
When I heard she was going to Herron I was happy for her. She was really good at school so I knew that she would do well there, but I was also upset & probably not as supportive as I should’ve been. Although, I knew Herron was an artsy school, so I figured she would like it there.
Freshman year we had this crazy big streak on snapchat. Even if we didn’t say words we would always send weird pictures of ourselves. I would still see her from time to time. During sophomore year we kind of stopped snapchatting. We just both lost a bit of contact. We still cared for each other but we both knew we had different groups of friends that were both good for us. Every time we did talk though, Kiersten would always say that she “Loves me so much,” or “You look so good.” She was just always insanely nice.
I knew around summer time after Sophomore year that Kiersten was moving back to MHS. I was really excited, although we didn’t have any classes together. As the year went on Kiersten got closer with some of the people I had gotten closer with. It got to the point that Helen, Carlin, Sydney, Shaelyn, Elizabeth, Ellie & I would all hang out. We made a group chat & that we would text in all the time. We would send a bunch of goofy & lovey stuff in the group chat or rant about silly little things. It was a fun group to hang out with. After she passed we didn’t really use the group chat anymore.
The weekend before the accident we went to Carlin’s party. We saw the Grinch Movie & it made Kiersten cry. She drove Keegan & I to O’Charley’s & we jammed out to the song “Thank You Next,” by Ariana Grande. Everytime I hear that song I think of her. At O’Charleys, Kiersten ordered chicken parmesan but she was a vegetarian so she was begging people to take her chicken patty & it was funny because no one else wanted it. She took me home that night & when we walked outside there was vomit on the ground right by her car. We were all just running around the parking lot yelling because of the puke. It was a weird & silly thing that happened. Then she dropped me off at my house & that was the last time I saw her, Saturday night. Sunday night, in our group chat around 8 or 9 oclock she texted us & said, “I just want to let y’all know that I love you guys.” We all answered saying we love you too. Sometimes I wondered if she just knew or if she just felt like she needed to say it.
The night of the accident I had cheer practice. A lot of people were late because of the traffic, I assumed it was because of construction. I was in a group chat with Elizabeth M. asked us if we heard about an accident in Mooresville. I said, “No, Did anyone get hurt?.” & she said, “ Kier died.” I immediately thought, “No No No”. Kiersten had just snapchatted me earlier that evening, so I just didn’t believe it. I was so scared that it was true. I said, “Elizabeth if that is some kind of joke you need to tell me right now, cause it’s not funny.” I don’t remember her ever responding to that. .
It was confirmed that she passed when I saw all the posts. I was by myself when I broke down but my mom checked in on me & wanted to know what was wrong. I couldn’t get any words out for a minute. She eventually understood me. Then she just cried with me for a little bit. The next day I didn’t want to go school but I also didn’t want to be at home alone. I needed a bit of a distraction.”
“Her Celebration of Life was good for me because I was able to see Jill and Andy & they have been such a huge part of my life as well. It was nice being surrounded by so many people that knew Kiersten. Seeing pictures of us when we were little on the slide show was so heartwarming. Being able to see all of her artwork was amazing, she accomplished so much. I knew it was supposed to be a supportive environment, but it was still so hard to not be so upset. When we sang, “Weep No More,” I just had to stop because it was such a hard thing to do, but I knew she would’ve been happy we were singing it. Going to that made everything become more real for me.
It was really hard for me to even talk about her death at first, especially in public places. I just didn’t want to hear or even think about the whole thing. I think that time has helped me the most. Now I am able to laugh about things we had done together & I can talk about her without focusing on what happened.
It feels like it has been so long since I’ve seen her. I miss her so much. I miss her coming to my choir events, & even things like her making fun of me for being basic. I’ve known her for so long, it felt like a piece of my childhood was gone, & that’s what sucks because even when we didn’t talk for awhile I knew that I would see her again. Now that I know that I can’t see her anymore & we can’t grow up together is hard for me to think about.
Her death taught me that getting home safely is a privilege. It’s so important not to goof off while driving & it‘s not okay to check your phone all the time in the car because you never know what could happen. It also made me more considerate of other people when they are going through something. It helped me always watch what I say so that I don’t offend anyone. Most importantly, losing Kiersten made me realize how appreciative I should be of my life. Before I would think to myself, “I don’t want to do this,” but now I think more in the sense of, “I get to do this.” That is the main thing that has impacted me.
I thank God so much for allowing me to have known Kiersten, & allowing me to have seen her a couple days before the accident. I don’t know what I would’ve done if I hadn’t had my last encounter with her.
In order to honor Kiersten I would treat others as well as she has treated me since we were 5 years old. I want to be able to tell people about her story & who she was. Singing reminds me of her too. For example, when my choir sang “Farewell,” last year I decided to make that about her. Just trying to incorporate her in my everyday life would be my way of honoring her..
If I knew back in my last conversation with Kiersten that it would be the last time I saw her, I would’ve hugged her. I would’ve told her I loved her so many times. I would thank her for all the years that she & her family had taken care of me & how fun she made my life. She never ever tore me down. I hope she knew how truly great she was.”