While Jerry & I were meeting with my therapist last year to help me deal with the anxiety attacks I’d been having, Kris came up. My therapist thinks I have unresolved issues regarding Kris’ untimely death and suggested I write everything down. I have been considering his advice for the past year, but did not feel strong enough to go forward with his suggestion. On this, the 18th anniversary of his passing, I think the time has come for me to write my story of Kris.
I initially met Kris in the summer of 1988 when my family moved onto his street. He lived across the street 5 houses down. I was attending a different school that fall so our relationship consisted of just an occasional awkward wave when we saw each other on the sidewalk. After Christmas break, I transferred to Roosevelt and we began talking.
At first it was just small talk as we waited for the bus in the mornings and farewells as we exited the bus in the evenings. My house was only 2 doors down from the bus stop so there was not much time for conversation. Our lockers were close to each other at school so we gradually began talking more and we started sitting together on the bus to and from school when we were both on the bus. Kris shared his locker with his girlfriend Kristi and we all became good friends. This friendship lasted through the school year and into the summer.
On August 18, 1989 I attended the funeral of my best friend Michelle who had been tragically killed in an automobile accident the day after her birthday. Kris knew it had been a rough week for me and I guess he instinctively knew that night was going to be very difficult for me. Sometime around midnight, he snuck out of his house and snuck into mine. He didn’t need to say anything; he just lay with me until I cried myself to sleep.
This was the first of many nights he would sneak down to my house in the middle of the night. We would lie down on my twin sized bed and talk for hours. Sometimes we wouldn’t talk much, just having the other person there was enough and we’d drift of to sleep. Of course these nights were always followed by the frantic wake up the next morning to get him back home before our parents found out. While we weren’t doing anything, I doubt either of our parents would have approved.
By the time school was back in session our relationship had grown quite a bit. His girlfriend Kristi, who was also my friend until this point noticed, and while I don’t know if she thought we were having an affair or not, a teenage love triangle was born!
At the time I didn’t understand why she was angry about my relationship with Kris. We weren’t having an affair, at this point we hadn’t even kissed. Looking back on it now, I understand her anger. While not being physical, Kris and I had an extremely intimate relationship that I don’t think you can understand until you’re an adult, if even then. We spent hours together after school, when I came home from my job at Whataburger he was often waiting for me at my house and we “slept” together or stayed up all night talking usually a couple of times a week after our parents had gone to bed.
Inevitably our relationship put a strain on his relationship with Kristi, so we stopped spending as much time together. We didn’t associate at school, we no longer sat together on the bus and our midnight rendezvous diminished significantly. At this point I realized how much I cared about Kris, because I missed him so much it hurt.
It’s now December 1989 and I have a 3 year old brother to buy a present for so off to the mall I go. Coincidentally, Kristi worked at the mall and she happened to work at the KB Toys store. By this time we are sworn enemies not even pretending to be cordial any longer. Kristi did not take to kindly to my being on her turf.
Later that evening just after dark, I received a phone call. It was Kristi calling me from Kris’ house chewing my ass up and down for coming into her store. I responded that if she had something she needed to say to me, that she should come say it to my face. I’m sure it wasn’t that polite, I probably said something more like “If you got something to say bitch! Get your scrawny slut ass down here and say it to my face!” (Teenagers are so eloquent after all). She agreed, we hung up and I waited. And I waited. And I waited some more. Finally I called Kris and said something along the lines of “I thought your little bitch was coming down here to say something to my face” his response was a loud sigh followed by “She’s coming”. With my parents sitting in the living room I walked by them and walked outside, they had no idea anything was going on.
What ensued outside was a good old fashioned catfight. There was some punching, kicking, scratching and maybe a little hair pulling. It seemed like a long time, but was probably only a minute or two until Kris broke us up. It was the one and only time I ever got into a physical altercation. Kristi & I joked about it many years later.
After the fight, Kris and I slowly started to talk to each other a bit more often. That summer in 1990, my parents decided to move to Devine. This was a difficult move for me on 2 points. First, I was moving away from Kris, and second because that was where my best friend Michelle was going when she died.
I don’t remember when Kristi and Kris ended their relationship. Being so far away (40 miles might as well be a thousand when you’re a teenager) we didn’t get to see each other much. I picked him up a couple of times that summer and brought him down to Devine, but school started and it was long distance to call each other so we didn’t speak too often. Kristi had also become pregnant with Kris baby earlier in the spring so they were dealing with a lot.
After spending my senior year in Devine, we were back in San Antonio. By this time Kris had a 8 month old baby boy named Bradley. I remember he used to tell me he would call him Brad because it annoyed Kristi. They were not together anymore by this time. Sometime after graduation, Kris took a job in Corpus Christi. This is when we began our “relationship” again.
To this day, I’ve never spoken about the last few months of our relationship with anyone or let anyone read my journal. I have kept it private in my heart. After all these years I hope finally sharing this will be somehow beneficial.
In the Winter & Spring of 1992 Kris would come up from Corpus on the weekends and we’d hang out at my house talking like we used too. My favorite nights were when he didn’t tell me he was coming and there be a knock on the door. One night in February he even surprised me at Diamond J’s playing pool with my little brother and a friend from Devine. I will never forget how happy I was seeing him walk through that door. He was wearing Z Cavarrici pants, a white turtle neck and tan jacket. He looked very collegiate.
By this time, we were both single and our relationship started to change. We always talked around our relationship though, never about it. I think we were both scared of losing what we had if we dared say it out loud. Our relationship was strange that way.
We never talked about dating each other, it was just understood that he’d come see me from Corpus and I’d be there and if I called him, he’d be there. We never said “let’s move in together” the conversation went more like “I’m going to try and get transferred back to San Antonio this summer, do you want to get an apartment in Leon Valley (where I was living) or by the old neighborhood?”
The last time I got to spend with Kris was the first weekend in May 1992. We had the house to ourselves; everyone was gone for the night. He sat in a plush armchair and I sat on the floor leaning on the chair by his legs. We had a bottle of wine and sat around talking as we usually did. We never seemed to run out of things to say to each other. As was the norm in our relationship, we talked about everything directly except about us. He was telling me that it looked like he’d be back in San Antonio before the end of the summer and that he had found a ring in Corpus that he liked and told me he thought I’d like it too. He said he’d bring it when he moved back and we got an apartment. We never actually talked about living together or getting married as I said, we talked around our relationship, but it worked for us at the time.
Unfortunately, I never had the chance to see the ring he picked out.
On the evening of May 19, 1992 I was at home with my family when my brother Ken came out of his room and said something to my mother. A few minutes later, my mother came out and asked me for Joyce’s (Kris’ mother) phone number. As she left the room my brother stayed in the kitchen with me drying dishes and I remember laughing and saying to him that mom was probably calling Joyce to plan the wedding because if she had her way Kris & I would’ve gotten married long ago. She loved Kris and in her mind he was already like a son so he might as well be a son in law.
When my mother came back into the room and told me Kris was gone, it was like my entire world was crashing down around me. I was holding a glass pitcher and actually swung it at my mom. My first instinct was to call Kris, because whenever I needed someone to talk to he was always there. I ended up in my car driving around for hours.
The day of the funeral, Kristi & I saw each other and just hugged each other tight. She was the only other person in the world that could understand what I was feeling. After all, we loved the same guy.
Later after the service at Kris’ house a group of us were standing outside and a friend of his named Paul, came up to me and said that he never knew 2 people that loved each other as much as Kris and I did but were to afraid to say it. That has stuck with me all these years. I make sure I tell my husband I love him all the time because I never want to lose someone again without telling them how much I love them.
For months after Kris died, I would find myself picking up the phone to call him and having half the numbers dialed before I realized what I was doing. I couldn’t stop crying. If I heard certain songs on the radio I’d become hysterical. Under the Bridge by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Right Here Waiting by Richard Marx and anything off of Shenandoah’s “Road Not Taken” album (when we weren’t speaking to each other in the spring of 1990, he actually stole this cassette tape out of my bag during Astronomy class and used it to make a tape for Kristi, he gave it back to me on one of his trips from Corpus in 1992 and we laughed about it. It is the only cassette I still have. It is all I have left of him besides memories).
I literally spent the first year after he died drunk, even though I was under 21. I drank every night and engaged in behavior that I’m surprised I survived. There was a bar not far from my house called Around the Bend that thought I was older, so I went there every night. I even carried Vodka & Peach Schnapps in my car. I moved into an apartment with 2 DJ’s and a bouncer and they would take me to the clubs where they worked and no one questioned my age because I was with them. Kris’ death had a huge impact on my life. I ended up in an abusive relationship the year after he died that lasted for 2 years. All I cared about was being drunk so I wouldn’t care.
In 1995 I finally sobered up and moved out on my own. Being alone at night, sober, thinking about Kris was painful. He had been gone 3 years and I still hadn’t dealt with it. I had dreams about him witnessing drug transactions and being away in witness protection somewhere and almost convinced myself it was true. Some days, I think I did convince myself he was still alive somewhere. By the end of 1995 I was doing much better. I moved on with my life, started dating, got a full time job at the hospital and life was back on track.
Kris’ death changed the course of my life. After he died I never again had a friend that I was as close too. When I do make friends I tend to push them away after a while. I don’t want to go through the pain of losing another friend. I’ve lost too many already and Kris was always my support. No one was there to support me when he died.
I have a wonderful husband of 11 years, Jerry, but even now I sometimes think I push him away because I’m afraid of being left again. I do have abandonment issues that stem from losing my 2 best friends in my teens and my father, but that’s a topic for another post.
After all these years, I don’t get hysterical if I hear a song on the radio, but my eyes do water up and my heart still aches a little bit wondering how my life might have been different. Not necessarily better, but different.
Poetry About Kris
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