Tunic top, birkenstocks, a shawl and flowers in her hair. Chris, in her 60s had never left the 60s in her attire. Her short white hair kept her in the present, but I wonder if she didn’t have the proverbial straight blonde hair past her waist when she was a 20-something. I knew Chris by working with her on the Pennsylvania Breastfeeding Coalition. Believing mother’s milk to be the best possible nutrition for newborns, we worked the past 20 years together through this organizaiton helping to make breastfeeding the cultural norm in our state. Chris and I were at opposite ends of the political spectrum on how much government should force this issue, but we were striving for the same goal. Chris worked for the State Department of Health and was a Certified Lactation Consultant which narrowed her scope, but as she worked for a woman’s right to feed her child, she became involved in public decency issues, places and time to pump at work issues, family leave and formula marketing ethics in countries where breastfeeding is essential because of unclean water, refrigeration and finances.
Chris had a massive stoke yesterday while on vacation. Declared brain dead at the hospital, she is being kept alive till organs are harvested from her body that could help others. That is how Chris lived her life, totally sold out to others. It has been my privilege to call her friend. I will miss her, especially in October. Every October the Coalition meeting was in Somerset, PA, close to the site where Flight 93 was downed. This year they are dedicating the finished Memorial so it would have been a special year to be there.
In the past when we’d go we never spoke a world. We just looked and felt and cared. That was Chris to me. She felt deeply, researched extensively and moved in power gently. Millions will forever benefit from her influence. Even though most never knew her, she cared for them. I was privileged to have walked some of the paths she walked and because of it, I will never be the same.
My heart aches with this loss. She will be greatly missed,