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Love Makes a Difference

Krisen Grace Lison

Some of you may know that a very close friend of mine and fellow writer, Krisen Grace Lison, passed away Friday, June 28th, 2013. She was just 20 years old. She was attending Michigan State University and had a beautiful life ahead of her.

We met on a writing site (now defunct) and were immediately drawn to each other’s style of writing; she appreciated my warped sense of humor (one of the few who do) and immediately “got me.” She had a silly side to her that I appreciated. We began chatting on Yahoo – just casually at first. She was interested in how I’d become a writer and how I became a professional at it. She was much amused that the first five letters of my last name spell out the word “devil” and at first she gently ribbed me about it, calling me “a cute lil’ devil” or “her handsome devil.” In turn, I’d question her eyesight.

Our conversations became much deeper than small talk very quickly. We found ourselves opening up very easily with each other and felt very comfortable with each other. After one particularly deep conversation, she said to me “You’re not a devil at all. You’re an angel.” From then on, I was her Angelfish and she was my Punkin. We had a lot in common besides a love for the works of Edgar Allen Poe, we both suffered from clinical depression. I was fortunate enough to find a therapist who thought drugs were a last resort kind of thing and was able to learn coping skills that I tried to pass on to my friend. We talked about the things that got us there – in her case, a traumatic divorce, and a feeling of being an outsider. In my case, a fatal car crash as well as a feeling of inadequacy growing up and a neurological disorder as an adult. Both of us had what you’d call surface self-esteem; we both knew how to play confident and secure while hiding the pain we both felt. We were able to talk each other out of our funks on bad days. When she wasn’t online and I needed her presence, I used to watch a video she made with one of her friends set to the Aaron Carter version of “I Want Candy.” It was her in three minutes – silly, sexy and sweet and I’d always feel better watching it.

We got to know each other very well in the two years we were friends. We talked nearly every day and generally for hours. We talked about hopes and dreams, fears and nightmares. We were completely honest in all things with each other, no matter the subject. She brought a smile to my face each and every day and I like to think that I was helpful in some small way in her own life.

The Kryssy I got to know was somebody special. Yes, there was a 30 year age difference between us and we were both super-aware that there are those who would find it creepy that a 50 year old man had such a deep and abiding friendship with a 20 year old woman, so we kept it to ourselves pretty much. Our relationship progressed from a mentor-protégé to something deeper that transcended age It wasn’t that Kryssy had an old soul – far from it – she had a young soul, one that was full of life and sparkled with the kind of brilliance that is blinding but she was also mature beyond her years.

She threw herself whole hog into everything she tried, whether it was oil painting, beading, stitching or writing. There were no half-measures with her. When she found something new to try, she’d set aside whatever obsession she was working on at the time and fling herself into her new one. When her energy was high, she was amazing. I’d get tired just hearing about all she’d accomplished in a few hours.

She was that way when it came to people as well. One of the things I admired most about her is that she loved very deeply, friend and family. The flip side of that is that people who love so deeply get easily wounded as well. It wouldn’t take much – a thoughtless word, a careless remark – to hurt her feelings to the core. She knew she was sensitive but she couldn’t help herself; it was just the way she was wired. Show her kindness however and she’d light up with an incandescence that made the sun look like a 50-watt bulb. It was all a part of her charm.

But there was a great deal of pain too, and sometimes it overwhelmed her. She loved her family very much but there were times of strained relationships as there are in all families. She wanted very much to be closer to her mother but didn’t know how to go about it, and I know it frustrated her a lot. She adored her siblings and wanted the very best for all of them – she had a strong streak of Mother Hen in her, one which I experienced firsthand. She worried a lot about my condition and often scolded me to take better care of myself.

There were two men who were centrally important to her however. The first was her Dad. He was her rock, her security. She had been estranged for him for a time and this she regretted more than anything. She wanted so much to make up for lost time. She looked at him as a role model, someone who accepted her unconditionally and never judged her. He understood that she wasn’t typical of any young woman – she was her own person and once her mind was made up she committed to her decision without swerving. She told me once she learned that it was okay to be herself from her Dad, a lesson some of us never get to understand. He gave her that confidence and though she tried to hide a lot of the demons inside her, she knew that no matter what he would always be there for her.

The other man in her life was Dalton, her fiancée. Like Kryssy, he was a bit of an outsider and that drew her to him. She told me of how he sent her anonymous love notes for months in high school, and how pleased she was when she found out that it was him writing her. She felt acceptance from Dalton that she never felt from any other boyfriend and though they were separated by distance, she treasured every second she spent with him and after a weekend with him would be positively bubbly. They had plans to move in together once he finished school and had been doing some preliminary ring shopping. For their anniversary gift last summer, he got her a submissive collar which she wore almost all the time. She told me that it really touched her because it signaled to her an acceptance of all the sides of her by her man and she would say that it was her engagement ring. She loved him to pieces and when she was really feeling down, he was the first place she’d run to.

Kryssy wasn’t very politically inclined, at least with me (although I got a sense that our politics were very similar) but she was passionate about Lesbian Bisexual Gay and Transgender causes. She’d come out as bisexual which is a brave thing to do in a small town in Michigan; not everybody was okay with it and not everyone accepted that side of her. She told me that there were people she grew up with who thought she was a freak and while it obviously hurt her, she used to get amused when she could rattle their cages a little bit.

We’d flirt with each other like crazy – I tend to be that way with my female friends and she invited it. She’d send me “Kryssy Kissies” and get back from me “Huggles.” It’s kind of crazy how deep our feelings went, two people who’d spent their entire relationship on opposite ends of the country and never were in the same room with each other. We planned to meet someday but again the whole age difference thing made us wary about it; we didn’t want to upset our families. I wish we had now – I’d give anything to have felt one of her real life hugs just once.

She was never shy about expressing her feelings about me to me, and I tried to do the same to her. I’ve lost people close to me – my father passed away when I was just 25 – and I had left a lot unsaid with him. Although I know deep down he knew how I felt about him and how he felt about me, the words were never exchanged and I vowed that nobody I cared about would ever feel that way if I were to pass away suddenly. In Kryssy’s case, we both said the words often and meant them. It was important to both of us that there were no doubts about how we felt about each other. I have no doubts she knew how special she was to me and that it made her happy to know that.

On Thursday afternoon, June 27th I got online and sent her a “hey beautiful” as usual. I knew instantly that there was something wrong. I was online with her as she slipped into unconsciousness from which she would never wake and so I was the last person she communicated with on this Earth, something that will haunt me to my dying day. I won’t go into details about our conversation – I suspect her father has seen it since doubtlessly the Yahoo window was open on her phone or computer – but I will say that her last words were of love and reassurance.

There is a Kryssy-size hole in my heart, a void that won’t ever be filled. She made my life brighter and the things inside me easier to bear. How can anybody cope with the loss of such a bright spirit so suddenly?  A 20 year old woman should be having love poems written about her, not memorials. She should be getting complimented, not eulogized.

When her beloved dog Cujo passed away, I told her something that I truly believe and which I believe now. Although I’m not sure what her belief in the afterlife was – I know we talked about it but I can’t for the life of me at the moment remember what we said, we talked about so many things – I got the sense that she didn’t believe in one, although I may be wrong on that account. I told her that we do have a kind of immortality. When you love someone, man or beast, that love that is passed on to them is a part of you. When they love someone else, that part of you that you gave as love is added to their own. We are all a sum total of the love passed on from ages ago – parent to child, husband to wife, friend to friend. We carry in us the immortality of those who came before and gave of their love – their most precious gift – to someone else.

The words she wrote survives her as does the love she inspired in so many. Her poems are still available on Amazon under her pen name Krystyl Lisoh. They are beautiful and sad and hopeful. They still make me smile even though I can’t stop crying when I read them. There will come a day when I will be able to read them without crying and when I’ll be able to look at a picture of her on her Facebook page without feeling the pain of her loss. A part of me doesn’t want that day to come. Not grieving for her feels like a betrayal but it is the way of the human heart, to heal in time. I write this now knowing that she will have her memorial service on July 3rd – ironically, the anniversary of my father’s passing. I wish I could be there in person but she will be much on my mind – as she will be every day for the rest of my life. I hope that our souls will meet again someday. You made a gigantic difference in my life for the better – even through the pain of your passing. Your life was brief but well-spent. Rest well, my dear friend and protégé. Huggles.


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