Kristen studied Religion at UNC. She wrote poetry, liked to draw, paint, and kept a journal. She loved her family, music, animals, old people and happy kids. She was vegetarian, but loved the lobster at Red Rocks.
Kristen died at 29 from a brain tumor. A year after we fell in love, she starting having headaches; she was 24 years old. Over the next the 5 years she had 5 brain surgeries, 2 series of radiation and 2 different chemotherapy protocols. During surgery #2 she contracted Meningitis and endured a horrible 6-week treatment program from which she never fully recovered.
I would like to take this opportunity to share three stories that demonstrate Kristen’s own philanthropy.
One night, before Kristen got sick, we were out at Lynch’s Irish Pub listening to a band. When we left, some drunk-guy was laying on the sidewalk outside. Everyone was just stepping over him. Kristen stopped and talked to him for a minute and then had me help her lug him over to my car and drive him home. It turned out that he lived in my old apartment at the beach. ‘That could have been you,’ she said.
After her first surgery, while on our honeymoon, driving somewhere in Costa Rica, a real rainforest downpour occurred. Kristen had me stop to help a stranded young motorist. After a brief conversation with him -in Spanish, she directed me up a mountain and through some hills to his father’s house. His father was an auto mechanic. She told the father the son’s whereabouts and the nature of his problem -again in Spanish. ‘That could have been us,’ she said.
Late into the progression of her third recurrence, we were in the neurology care waiting- room at Houston’s MD Anderson. It was a very intense room. People were sick. People were scared. People were getting bad news. A very sick woman came into the waiting room wearing an oxygen mask. I could hear her breathing behind the mask. When she took her seat, some parents pulled their kids away. Kristen went over to her and started talking; the woman pulled the mask away and started talking back to her. Only Kristen would start up a conversation with someone wearing an oxygen mask. ‘That could be me,’ she said.
I love those stories. Most people that knew her, already know that she took in stray dogs and gave panhandlers her cash, food, respect and courtesy, but these stories help define her character – that remained unchanged.