All We Are Is Dust In The Wind: Helen “Chrissy” Riddle (1957 – 2019)

On Thursday, January 10, 2019, my sister (in my maternal biological family), Chris Riddle, was driving to work around 10 a.m. in Olathe, KS. Chris suffered a medical emergency that left her unconscious, and her SUV hit a car, then traveled forward through a fence into an icy cold pond.

By the time first responders got to the accident, the SUV was fully submerged. They pulled the SUV out, got Chris out, and, after a lengthy amount of time, were able to resuscitate her. She was taken to the hospital and put on life support. 

On Friday morning, January 11, 2019, a neurological examination showed Chris had no brain activity. The family huddled for several hours to decide what step to take next.

At 4:52 p.m. CST, Chris was pronounced dead. However, Chris was an organ donor, so the hospital kept her on life support until organ transplants could be arranged.

By Sunday, January 13, 2019, the hospital had found a liver recipient in New York and two lung recipients in the Midwest. At 7 p.m. CST, a “Walk of Honor” line, composed of family members, friends, and hospital staff, formed all both sides of the hallway from where Chris was to the operating room, where her liver and lungs would be harvested to extend life to three people Chris never knew.

That’s the Chris I know. Her life was not easy, and her journey had more than its share of ups and downs. Many people, given the same circumstances, would have become bitter, hard, and resentful.

But Chris did not. Filled with not just strength, but character that included grace, compassion, gentleness, kindness, and generosity, Chris took the hits, got up and dusted herself off, and kept living life to the fullest.

Chris was a fun person to be around. She smiled and laughed a lot and she truly enjoyed her life. She loved her mom, all of us siblings (there were six of us), her four beautiful children, her grandchildren, and all of our very large extended family with a heart that was big, open, and unconditional.

Her children – Michael, Mark, Jared, and Kaela – are now left to carry on Chris’s legacy. They will not be alone. Even though we will never be able to fill the void in their lives that Chris’s absence has created, we all – Chris’s siblings and extended family – will fill in the gaps and always be there to help them, to hold them, to love them. We may even dance at Kaela’s wedding. 🙂

Today is Chris’s memorial service. There will be tears, for sure. But there will also be smiles and laughter, because that was such of part of who Chris was and what her life was about. As we say goodbye to our sister, our momma, our niece, we know that it’s a temporary goodbye.

Our hope and the joy that is set before us is that we will see Chris again. We’ll see the twinkle in her eyes, the smile on her face, and we’ll hear her laughter as it warms our hearts. The only question left is who will be fast enough to run to hug her first.

So until then, dear Chris, rest well. We love you and we miss you, but we’ll see you soon. That’s a promise.

Save the Next Dance For Me: Remembering Mama (March 2, 1928 – August 14, 2012)

Mama loved music. She probably had the widest range of taste in music of anybody I’ve ever known. From the Appalachian bluegrass of her childhood to the big band/swing music of her teens to jazz to classical music (we both loved violins, so Vivaldi was a shared favorite) to the music we kids listened to growing up (which Daddy called noise, for the most part), to all the grunge and indie and alternative music I introduced to her, it was a rare time when she said, “I don’t like that.” Continue reading

Book Review: “The Trip to Echo Spring” – Olivia Laing

The Trip to Echo SpringThe Trip to Echo Spring by Olivia Laing
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book was both enlightening and, in many ways, sad. The author looks at five prominent American authors, all with immense talent, and explores how alcoholism impacted their writing and their ability to write. Continue reading

Book Review: “Less Medicine, More Health: Seven Assumptions That Drive Too Much Medical Care” by H. Gilbert Welch

Less Medicine, More Health: 7 Assumptions That Drive Too Much Medical CareLess Medicine, More Health: 7 Assumptions That Drive Too Much Medical Care by H. Gilbert Welch

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The author of this book is an doctor who is practiced for years as a PCP and now teaches at Dartmouth. One of his areas of expertise is what the data (and these are extensive research studies) about the results of medical screening show and how the screening causes more harm than good. Continue reading

Mother’s Day 2018

Mama is holding Deb. Greta is beside her. And I’m on the end. Deb and I were 4 months old in this picture.

It’s hard to believe that it has been six years since the last Mother’s Day I spent with Mama. It seems like a minute ago on one hand and like an eternity on the other. 

There is not a time when I don’t miss her, wondering what she would say or think about things with us kids, her grandkids, the world. In many ways, just like with Daddy, I’m glad she’s been spared the last six years. 
Continue reading

Book Review: “Justinian’s Flea: Plague, Empire, and the Birth of Europe” by William Rosen

Justinian’s Flea: Plague, Empire, and the Birth of EuropeJustinian’s Flea: Plague, Empire, and the Birth of Europe by William Rosen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book was absolutely fascinating, both from a historical perspective (great depth in the background of Justinian, the empire, and the players in Justinian’s world, which is intriguing) and a scientific/epidemiological perspective. Continue reading