Everyone has a first love. That person who makes your toes tingle, your stomach flip. I had two. One when I was thirteen and then the real one when I was seventeen. They both left me heart-broken. For very different reasons. Here is my story about my heart. The story of my first love and the aftermath of a tragedy.
When I was young, I went to Camp Indogan every summer. Sometimes, most times, I went twice. That time carries my favorite memories of my youth. When I was in 8th grade, I met a young man named Brian Harvey. He would become a lifelong friend. After our camp session that summer, we had a youth meeting at our church. All of the other Churches of Christ in the area were invited. Of course I showed up with not a hair out-of-place and an outfit it took me days to pick out. I usually went to youth gatherings to see the boys. I think that’s pretty normal. At Lindberg Rd, where I attended church, there were a LOT of girls and just a few boys. All of us were always on the look out for a cute new boy.
I walked in the door, scouting for my girlies and I saw the most gorgeous boy I’d ever seen. He had dark hair and the prettiest eyes. I immediately ran up to my girls and asked WHO that was. The answer came easily enough, that was Brian Harvey’s cousin. Oh my goodness. The whole day, I was easily within three feet of him. We talked, very casually. I honestly didn’t think he was interested. He was 17 and I was 13, that was a pretty big age difference. I left the rally that day thinking that was the last time I’d see Kendall Harvey.
On Tuesday of that week, I was riding the school bus home and noticed a red El Camino sitting in my driveway as we were pulling up to my house. I got off of the bus wondering who in the world this was. Apprehensively I walked toward the car, and Kendall got out. Holy crap!! I asked him how he knew where I lived and he explained he had gone to a friend’s house and asked her where I lived. I was over the moon!! I was only 13 but I fell and I fell hard.
Kendall being so much older, wanted me to go on car dates with him. After a while, Mother agreed. He was so charming, how could she not? On a side note, Kendall loved my Mother. He loved her more than he ever loved me. The first time he met her, she was getting ready for a date and Kendall was visiting me at my house. Those of you who know Mother know what an absolute stunner she was. She came walking out of her bed room, in a red dress, long Farrah hair and tanned, she stopped and leaned against the wall and fixed the strap on her cherry red sandles. Kendall, gaping, said “Is that your MOM???”. I was second from then on. He gave me a kitten one time, a little gray, fluffy kitten. It was the sweetest thing. Some time later, he found a card that had a kitten that looked just like it on the front. He brought the card to my house, handed it to me at the front door, kissed me and left. I was so tickled. Ripping open that card, I saw the kitten and had a teenage ‘awe’ moment, then I opened it up. He had signed it “I love you, Kendall Harvey”. He always signed his first and last name. as if another Kendall was sending me cards or flowers. Underneath that he wrote, in BIGGER letters, “P.S. Tell your Mom I said hi” with a big exclamation point in bubble letters. I was so mad. I can remember running to my room and throwing that card in my trash can. I pouted a while, decided he couldn’t help himself and picked the card back out of the trash can.
We broke up often. I was very young and I had a hard time just having one boyfriend. I craved attention and if I was getting enough, I sought it out someplace else. He would show up and I would have a different boy there and he would storm off. Then I would call him and he would have a different girlfriend and I would throw a fit. I dated people to make him jealous. Friends of his. He would flirt around with friends of mine. We were ridiculous.
On Mothers day in 1982, he came and picked me up after church and we spent the day together. We spent most of it at his cousin’s house. They were out of town and we had the place to ourselves. Our parents would have killed us. He had just turned 18 in April and I was 15. We had no business being there, but there we were. I felt like a grown up. And I knew I loved him. We went to church with his parents that night and his Mother was so mad. It was Mother’s Day and he had spent the day with me. He had planned to come back to my house after the evening church service but his Mother wanted him home. I said I understood, although I was disappointed. He took me home, we said goodnight for a while, the way teenagers do, and he left. That was the last time I saw him.
Kendall had made a trip to the David Lipscomb Lectures in Tennessee that June. He decided to go over into Alabama to see a family he was friends with. Of course a girl was involved. He had recently purchased a 1978 Z-28. It was royal blue and had t-tops. It was stunning. He wanted to show it off and he wanted it to look it’s best. He went to the girl’s house and she wasn’t home, but he left them a note. He decided to go to the local K-Mart to get a chamois to buff his car with to make it really shine. When he came out and got into the car, there was a man in the back seat. He held a knife to Kendall’s throat and made him drive. They drove out towards the county. Eventually Kendall ran off the road, into a ditch. The man climbed out the window and ran. There was a man who was painting at a house near by and he witnessed the wreck and the man running away. Kendall had been stabbed several times in the chest and died there on the side of the road in Birmingham, Alabama.
The news started reporting that a young man had been stabbed to death and they needed to get a hold of his family but didn’t know how. If anyone was in the area, please call the police department. The young girl he was going to visit kept telling her father to call the police, her father waited because it just seemed to awful. Eventually he made the call and it was indeed Kendall.
It was beyond words.. The grief was overwhelming. I clung to Brian. He was the closest thing to Kendall. We were both devastated.
I had Driver’s Ed that summer. I had to go every day. The class started about a week before Kendall was killed. I missed two weeks but Mother called my instructor and explained the situation. I finally went back on the third Monday after the funeral. Of course, the news had spread. Every one stared. Every one wanted the gory details. I would sit in class then become overwhelmed with it and excuse myself to the bathroom and sit in a stall and cry. It was such a relief when we finally got out of the classroom and into the cars. There I didn’t have the stares and questions. Our teacher expected total concentration, even if you weren’t the one driving. I was an awful driver. We were passing someone one day and I ran off the side of the road a bit. There was mud all over that car. My instructor made me take the car to a car wash and get out and wash the mud off. I was so embarrassed. I cried the whole time. I honestly think it scared the two boys I had in the car and the teacher. It was cathartic for me. I cried all the way back to the school. all the way home and most of the evening.
The rest of the summer and late into my sophomore year, I slept all the time. If I wasn’t at school, I was asleep. I had bad dreams. I wanted to be at Kendall’s house with his parents or at the graveyard or with Brian. I slowly came out of what I now know was depression. I just knew I was sad. Amy Jo and Amy McNeely pushed me into life again. But I have never forgotten.
I have never forgotten his smile. I have never forgotten how vain he was about his hair. He would come to the house and I could see him patting and primping his hair in the door glass before I answered it. He was always having an adventure. He came over one time and his back was all covered with bruises and cuts, he had taken a canoe trip and rolled over in it. He just laughed and laughed. He loved Gene’s hotdogs. He loved my Mom’s taco salad. He had an old green car from the 40’s, I think. He called it his Green Machine. I made fun of that old car and he got so mad one time he left and went home. I had to say I was sorry about a hundred times before he would come back over. He liked cats and tolerated dogs. He loved my Mom. He loved me.
That is my story of Kendall. His death was such a loss for everyone. I feel like his parents never got over it. The sorrow ate them up. I remember all of the good things now.. I was young and the young bounce back quickly. I found myself more in tuned to the loss his parents felt once I had my own children.
My first-born was a sweet little boy I named Kendall. A few days after he was born, Kendall’s Mom came to the house with a gift for him. It was a silverware set. She had it engraved with Kendall’s name. She told me I could have given her no bigger gift.