“I had known of Kiersten in 7th grade, but the summer going into 8th grade we both were involved in a show choir camp. That was when we really started to hangout. At show choir camp we all had really similar personalities. She would try to learn everything she could about a person so that she could connect with them. It was weird because she wasn’t necessarily always bubbly & outgoing, but she could talk to anyone. We ended up having choir together in 8th grade. I slowly got involved with that friend group which was Kiersten, Shaelyn, Gracie, Abi & others.
I never felt nervous talking to Kiersten, which is weird because I am usually really anxious when I meet new people. She was an instant comfort for me. I think it is because she was never judgmental towards anyone. Talking to her was the first time someone had made me feel like they wanted to be my friend. She opened me up to so many new people that I would have never met.
Kiersten made me feel like I wasn’t alone. She did so much for me. She didn’t want anything from me other than me. She made me feel valued by always making time for me. She valued the fun that we could have. It wasn’t just about making her happy, but making me happy as well.
In 8th grade Kiersten would have her parties & sometimes she would invite people that I didn’t know. There would be so many people there & I knew she had a special connection with each & every one of them. I just thought to myself, “Wow, you know so many people.” It was always fun & comfortable for me, even though I didn’t know everyone.
Kiersten had mentioned she was wanting to go to Herron quite a few times. I said to her, “Oh, no you can’t leave me.” But she would say,, “No I’m going to go. I want to see what it’s like.” I said back to her, “Well okay, but when it’s not what you want we will always take you back.” She was pretty set on going. It showed me that she wasn’t scared. When you get to know Kiersten she was a person who was scared to do a lot of things, but in this situation she had a different attitude & sense of confidence because she saw it as an opportunity to possibly help her future interest.
Herron definitely ended up being a Kiersten place. It was completely individual. Every single person wasn’t the same & that was very much her. When she left I was sad, but she was still the one that made my transition from middle school to high school so much easier. She provided me with a core group of people to go into high school with.
We had a big group chat while she was at Herron. That’s where a lot of our communication would come from at that point. We’d talk about 5SOS, One Direction, & Harry Styles. That friend group clicked because of Kiersten. She pulled us all in together. Me having that comfort with her made me comfortable with everyone else. She made it a neutral ground for all of us.
When I heard she was coming back to Mooresville I was excited. I heard she had made Finesse & I was in Finesse too, so I was glad that I was going to have someone with me that I could enjoy the class with. That was something I was looking forward to. We got our schedules for the year & Kiersten & I found out we had 3rd, 4rth, 5th, lunch & 6th together. That was basically our whole school. When she came back it was like she never left. She would even drive me home after school. We would spend all day with one another. That was when we really got the closest.”
“She had gotten more anxious when she came back to Mooresville. Just the normal things that teenagers deal with. I thought, “Me too honey.” It kind of grew our relationship because we were kind of in the same place emotionally. It was junior year so we had hard classes & things like college to worry about. We would always talk about where we wanted to go to college & our future.
I remember all of her weird characteristics. She would always have oil wipes on her. She would go through those like crazy. There was also one time where she spilt soup on her pants so she called Andy to try to get her out of school, but he wouldn’t do it. She walked around school for the rest of the day with soup on her pants. I remember a whole bunch of weird moments with Kiersten that I didn’t think would stick with me, but then I realized those are some of the last memories I’ll have with her.
I chose this room because this is where we would have 3rd period together. It was where we started our day. We would also come back here after school whenever we had choir practice. We would play Trivia HQ every single day. We would try to win but we never did. Kelly Blackwell, our Pre Calc teacher, was always here with us as well. She always welcomed us in her classroom. We both loved her so much. It was a place we always knew we could come to.
We would do random things together. Once she asked me to come with her to look for the Pillsbury Halloween cookies, we drove all around greenwood looking for those. Also, after school one day I came over & we watched the whole Shane Dawson documentary over Jake Paul on her floor. One time we made this brownie cookie thing, we would bake a lot. I would also study over at her house with her as well. I would go over at least once or twice a week & it was always nice. Her dogs were so cute, & Lainie was like my little sister too. Being at her house was my second home.
Junior year I definitely would’ve called her my best friend. We enjoyed each other’s company so much. The Finesse overnight she dressed up as Edward Scissor Hands & I was Meechee from Small Foot. We got ready together & we made garlic knots & ate them on the way over to the choir sleepover. It was funny watching her drive with her costume. Jill was there so we all kind of hung out together.
We had a presentation in our American studies class & I was James Buchanan & she was Walt Whitman. I wanted her to take these really professional yet funny pictures of me dressed up as James Buchanan. We went to the park & she took all kinds of pictures of me. She edited them all for me & they were perfect. It was so cold outside & we walked so far, but she was willing to do whatever to get these silly photos of me.
That Monday of her death wasn’t a super significant day for me. I just had normal girl gossip conversations with her. It was just another day at school. I do remember her complaining about the Swedish fish she got from her Snow Buddy. That was funny because she was just annoyed & confused as to why she got them. I was there when she got them & she was like, “Um are these for me?” I texted her & asked her for a ride that afternoon of the accident, & she said she couldn’t because she had to get her blood drawn. That was my last encounter with her.
December 3rd is my mom’s birthday. She brought home O’ Charleys for us to eat. We were watching Jeopardy when she got a call. She started crying. I thought, “Oh this doesn’t involve me.” She works at an elementary school so I assumed maybe it was something in regards to one of her students. She hung up & walked towards me & gave me a hug. She said, “Kiersten has been in an accident.” I asked, “Is she okay?” & my mom said, “She died.” That whole night I just shut off. I cried the entire night. I live next to Ellie so I asked her to come over. She didn’t want to & I had to tell her over the phone. She kind of just shut off too. She didn’t end up coming over & I didn’t expect her to. My priorities had completely shifted after I told her. I wanted to make sure everyone else was okay. I was still crying, but it became more about the other people who were hurting at that point for me. I felt for the people who didn’t get to know her, just as I felt for the people who were so much closer to her than I was, like her family. I couldn’t imagine what Jill, Andy, & Lainie were thinking. I just wanted to make everyone feel better about what was happening. I wanted everyone to be okay.
I didn’t go to school the day after it happened. I couldn’t really move at that point. I just sat on the couch all day. I really wanted to be alone. I’m more private about crying & expressing my feelings.That weekend I had some people come over. We watched the movie Blue Planet. Anyone who could come, did. It was so surreal for everyone. Even if we didn’t say anything, it would be good for us to know that we are all there for each other.
I felt like it wasn’t real for a really long time. Not having her in class anymore just felt like she was back at Herron again. It didn’t feel like she was truly gone for me. It was a subconscious denial. My mom just said It was a part of the stages of grief. It sucked when there were bad days & everyone else was living life.
I don’t feel as if I have truly dealt with all of this still. I know it’s up to me to take that next step & I don’t want to do that. I just feel better isolated. It’s hard for me to talk about it with other people. This interview alone, I feel is a big step for me.
What I miss most about Kiersten is her friendship. Just knowing she would always be there no matter what. That’s really hard because you try to find people to fill that but they don’t. You have to adapt to life without her.
When I think about Kiersten I think about how I knew her. I think about how she would just be herself. I think about her genuine self, the person I would spend my days with. I feel like that is a broad definition, but that is just how I remember her..
Describing her is always hard for me because I feel as if my definition of her doesn’t really fit everyone else’s definition. She was genuine to herself. I wouldn’t say she was always confident, but she always stayed true to herself. She was by no means perfect, but she had the ability to stand out in a good way. When you are so close to her & when you see her in all of her different ways, she becomes so much more real. I saw her insecurities that she didn’t proclaim to those outside of her circle.
I’ve learned that life does go on. You have to learn to adapt. This process isn’t just a “you” thing. There are so many people that feel it as well. Even if you know that it’s a crappy day there is always going to be someone who is feeling the same way. Just know that you will be okay.”