“I met Kiersten when she started dating my brother, Jalen. He had a few girls that he would talk to & date. He really respected what I thought as his older sister. When he started talking to Kier he showed me her instagram & I clearly remember scrolling through, noticing her blue hair. I thought, “You want to date someone with blue hair?” That was my first impression. That this girl just didn’t care and did what she wanted. She was obviously spunky & really out there..When they started dating she would come over to my Dad’s house & she was really shy & standoffish at first. She was standoffish in a way that she loved people and she wanted people to love her too so I feel like she almost liked to get a perspective of people before she really showed who she was. I liked it because she was really respectful of our family and our dynamics. She was nervous around me at first, but once we established that relationship with one another it was really good..Once I got to know her she was really easy to get along with. She was always happy & smiling. She was always willing to help & be there for people. That was something I noticed from the very beginning. I thought, “You know what, we’ll forget the blue hair. There is a lot more to this girl than just the color of her hair.”.Kiersten was Jalen’s first real relationship so it was a really big deal for the both of us. My whole life has really been just Jalen & I. We are both pretty protective of each other..It didn’t take long for Kier & I to get comfortable with one another. She’s just so easy to love because she never wants people to worry about her, but she is always the first person there when somebody needs her. As soon as I realized that about her I realized, “This is a good one.”.We would text eachother often. There was one time she texted me while her & Jalen were having a fight. I was trying to talk her through it & I mentioned it to him & he said, “Oh my gosh why would she text you?” With social media we were able to get to know each other a little bit more than before..One of the first outings that I went to involving her is when we went to watch her at one of her Herron choir performances.” “Jalen was stressed about driving there & didn’t think he could go. She texted me about being upset. I said, “I’ll drive down there with him, we will be there for you.” We went & Jalen got her flowers & afterwards she was so thankful that we were there. We took some pictures. That was the first picture I had ever taken with her..During Jalen’s senior year I went to all of Jalen’s football games. Every Friday she would text me making sure I was going to his game. She would drag Lainie along with her as well, even when Lanie did not want to be there at all. She would text me when she got there asking me to come get her to walk with her up the bleachers. Her anxiety kind of showed there. It was always packed & loud so I understood. On Jalen’s senior night I had left my phone on the bleacher face down. When I picked it up I had so many missed calls & texts from Kiersten asking where I was. I thought, “Oh my gosh why are you blowing up my phone.” But of course looking back I would give anything to have those calls & texts from Kier. I am so thankful for spending Jalen’s football games with Kier, she made a sacrifice to sit with me & not sit in the student section. She really paid attention to the game in order to watch & support Jalen..There was a lot of personal time spent together at football games, supporting my brother who was a senior in highschool. Jalen means more to me than anything so to have someone that loved him as much as she did. That was just so visible and it just poured out of her. It’s a lot for me to reflect on & just feel. Even though she’s not here now, when she was, she gave him everything & did not hold back her love. I am so glad that she got to experience that love with my brother & that’s something that’ll never go away.”
“We all went to Pride together. It was the summer Kiersten was going into Junior year. She did my makeup. That was another moment where we just sat & talked together & were just together. She did an awesome job on my makeup. We went & it was really fun. We ended up eating at Steak ‘N’ Shake & walked to the White River State Park. Then the weather turned really bad & Kier was very scared of bad weather. She was freaking out. We were standing there talking about where to take shelter & the next thing we knew, Kiersten was gone. She took off running to take shelter across the street. We tried to get her to wait for us, but she was just really really upset. We spent about an hour in the basement of this building..Pride was really just a special time I got to spend with her. When I went again this year I thought about her a lot. It was special to be there & reflect that one year earlier I was there with Kier. I thought about what all has happened in the last year & how far Jalen & I have come. I was able to think about the good times & the good memories I have with her..I didn’t really know that she had anxiety until one day I was talking to Jalen about my own anxiety issues. I would stay up late most nights because I couldn’t sleep. He told me I should text Kiersten because he knew she was up late the same night, struggling to fall asleep. She would sometimes stay up late worrying or struggling to handle anxiety. She would worry about school, choir, grades & other little things. I reached out to her & told her that she could text me anytime. When you discover that someone is insecure or struggles with something that is considered a “weakness”, especially when you can relate to it, a bond forms immediately. I was able to talk to her about a lot of those things & let her know that there’s nothing wrong with having anxiety. I didn’t want her to feel alone. We didn’t have in-depth conversations about it, but she knew I was there for her & I knew she was there for me. She was very understanding of our family struggles..She was very understanding & very supportive. It was what Jalen & I really needed.” “To be able to give that back to her & realize that she struggled too, made her more like a human. That made it easy to get close to her. As much as I hate that she struggled with that, I am also very thankful because through that we were able to get to know each other, personally. I loved her. I had expectations for them & their relationship. I saw them in their dynamic together & it looked good & hopeful. It was important for me that she knew that I loved her. I was willing to be that big sister to her as well & I felt like she knew that..The day that she died is something that I struggle with a lot. The day that she died was kind of the start of a downfall of a lot of really traumatic things happening in Jalen and I’s life. December 3rd I was at Starbucks doing homework. Jalen called me & I answered & he said, “Hey someone texted me & said that there was an accident on 144 and it was Kiersten’s car. Andy keeps trying to call me & I don’t know what to do.” I was very optimistic. I was trying to calm him down & I assumed she was fine. I told Jalen to call Andy back & then to let me know what he says. I waited for a bit & then Jalen texted me & said, “Jaimee” & I said, “What?” & he said, “Kier didn’t make it.” In that moment it was just kind of like wow. I thought that she was fine. It never crossed my mind that something really bad had happened to her. When I look back I feel guilty for reassuring him that everything would be okay.
There was a drawing that she made for my birthday. When she made it, my brother told me that she was texting him stressing about the drawing. The drawing was of me so she wanted it to look right. You can see the marks where she erased & redrew it over & over again. She ended up not even putting a face on it which is one of my favorite things about it. She used primary colors & put blotches for the eyes & mouth. I think that makes it so special. It gives it the extra spunk that Kiersten brought to everything that she did. When she died, I immediately went to that picture & hung it on my wall. On my 20th birthday, I got it tattooed on my arm. It’s a memorial tattoo & her name is hidden in the hair..I loved Kiersten. I love when people ask about my tattoo. I love being able to talk to them about it. It makes me think about people & what they are dealing with. Going through this has made me appreciate people. It’s made me have a lot of respect for their struggles & for that, I am thankful. It allows me to take a step back & see that everyone has gone or is going through something..I can’t even find the word to explain exactly how she was. Yes she was quirky, yes she was spunky, yes she had anxiety, but no matter what, she always had the right thing to say. Whether it was making someone laugh or easing someone’s stress. She was always the first person to compliment someone. She was a big, “I love you” person. People she loved, always knew that she loved them..There was not one mean bone in her body that I was ever exposed to. She was the type of person that saying something mean or doing something mean to others never crossed her mind. She was a genuinely kind & sensitive person. She never had anything to take out on others..If we could all just do what we love & not care, think about how much better we would feel. That was just something I really admired about her. I always go back to that blue hair that I judged at first. Now looking back & knowing her, that was just the most ‘Kiersten’ thing ever.”