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.
So sorry for your families loss. That was an amazing tribute to her. PRAYERS going up for all of you as you travel through this journey. Know that God will be with each one of you and he will wrap his arms around you all and help you move forward.
Thank you, Susan! I appreciate your prayers, your kind words, and your love!
I am sorry to hear of your sad loss.
I am sorry to hear of your sad loss. ❤️❤️❤️
Thank you so much! I appreciate your thoughts.
The black & white photo must be 1975 (ish), the last time I saw Chris and I’d completely forgotten that her first name was Helen. I was 16 at the time, she an 18 yr old nursing school student in Kansas City. My father was military and transferred overseas (my mother gave Chris the family pet, a white cat named Puffy) and shortly thereafter I received her dear john letter from Omaha Neb. As she was my first love in every sense of the word, my world was shattered…you never forget your first heartbreak.
My condolences to all who loved her and mourn her loss, it is heartwarming to see she left a legacy of such a large and loving family.
Hi Shelley, thanks for your condolences. I can imagine the heartbreak of receiving a Dear John letter, but I hope life has been good and you found love again. We’ve lost quite a few other family members since Chris died – some younger than she was when she died – but we remain close and supportive. Take good care.