|Welcome to Christine's Memorial Page|
|Hello. You're here because you were sent here to learn about Christine's passing on March 2nd, 2014.
This was put up by me, her husband Grig, as a way to send people to some information and facts about her life and her passing.
|"How did she die?"
This was asked a lot, and there has been a lot of confusion and rumors about it. She did not really "die from the flu" as many say, but a combination of factors. The official reason is "ARDS" or Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome. This was brought on by four stages:
On Thursday after the convention, she fell ill. By Saturday, she was at the hospital. By Sunday, she was in a medical coma, and didn't get a chance to wake up and say goodbye. She died on a Sunday, March 2nd, at 3:35pm, after doctors and nurses at the Fairfax Hospital worked very, very hard to keep her alive. She was surrounded by friends and family.
This is the hardest acting gig I have ever had. Once I was told two hours before I was to be a jovial, bad-joke telling emcee for cosplay at Anime Mid Atlantic that my cat had just died. I thought that was tough. This is going to be harder, and I apologize if I have to pause. And, sadly, the jokes are just as bad.
It was April 1st, April Fools Day of 1988, when thanks to Dave Murphy, I was able to hang out at Balticon 22 to relax. I had a few errands to run, and one of them was to speak to my friend Betty, whom many of you know as Elspeth, to follow up on some business and hang out with some of her assistants. Instead, Betty introduced me to one of her new assistants, a West Virginia girl named Christine. My first thought was, "Oh man, this is my con off. I don't want to explain stuff to some con virgin," which was one of my jobs at Evecon. "Why does the guy in the elevator wearing chainmail?"
Instead, she tried to sell me a stuffed dragon that went around your neck. I already had one... well, two, really... and this disappointed her. Long story short, I now have three. I learned a few things at that convention: that a woman could be both pretty and smart and actually like me. I grabbed this rare gem when I found it, before someone else got her, and didn't appreciate what they had.
We dated long distance. I learned she came from the bad part of town, the wrong side of the tracks, in a part of Keyser, West Virginia known only as, "The Hill." There she was the tough girl who once broke her arm in a fight, got her arm in a cast, and came back to beat up the other girl with that same cast to finish the fight. During one of my visits to her small little townhome in the projects, I remember her whipping open her front door, framed in car headlights like a scene from Close Encounters, screaming to a bunch of people being loud and obnoxious outside of her window. "Anyone got anything they wants to say to my FACE??" After a bunch of "oh shit," and "Sorry, Chrissy!" and panicked scrambling, dropping beer cans, and cars screeching away... the parking lot was vacant in less than a minute. "That's RIGHT!" she finished, and slammed the door. Then apologized to me how embarrassing and redneck her neighbors were. In front of her BOYFRIEND.
I was in love. You have no idea. Piers Anthony said in his Xanth series that the Citizens of Xanth must breed with Mundanes, and we were proof of that. Christine wasn't a geek, and I was so far into the Dork Forest, I had student ID from Miskatonic University. But we met in the middle, and eventually she loved Dr. Who, Game of Thrones, and of course, the people in fandom. I learned rock music, small town Americana, and how families work.
We got married a year later, in June of 1989, on a mountain in West Virginia. It was at a mormon church, and they haven't left us alone since. Christine was baptized mormon at age 15 after being recruited at her high school, but in her heart was a lot of faiths, many whom are represented here. Except mormon. They will find out soon enough, because Mormons are sneaky that way, and will descend upon my house with a lot of cake. Our wedding was poor; cost less than $1000 including the dress and tux rental. We didn't have many photos of the wedding because we couldn't afford to hire a photographer.
I was 20, she was 18. Many said our marriage wouldn't last 2 years. I won't lie to you, we have had some rough times. Poverty, poor health, and MTV stopped showing videos. We almost made it to 25 years, which would have been this June.
I didn't go into marriage expecting this-and-that. I knew my parents marriage didn't work. I grew up in McLean, where a lot of my friends were products of divorces, third husbands, and accidental pregnancies. I saw their mistakes and tried to prevent my own. But instead of our struggles alienating us, it brought us closer together. It wasn't every person for themselves, but us versus the world. And the world threw us some real tough challenges.
In 1990, our son, Christopher Raven was born. A product of love. And sex. Christine and CR almost died through childbirth; and it was very touch and go for a while. But they recovered, and our family became three.
Our blood relative family was limited. I had a rough home life. I had no brothers or sisters growing up, my parents were gone when I was just 18. I luckily got to know her mother, Sally, as a mother until she died in 1998. Now Christine is back with her again. Her family is beset with death. She lost her mother, father, two sisters, two uncles, and a brother in our 25 years. Her eldest and closest sister, debbie, whom we gave love and support, passed away several days into Christine's coma. I didn't have anyone close, and all her family were much older and scattered far away. So it was us three. Christine originally came from a big family, and I felt was destined to be the next family matriarch. So she started to collect family from our extended fandom ties. Many of you are here today. Some we knew as teenagers who are now fully fledged adults. Some came to us with broken wings which we helped repair and send off to a new life. And some just adopted us. Rogue, Sara, Jenny, Anya, Brian, Keith, Sean, Kai, Chance, Jess, Scarlet, Keiran, and Spike.
She held many professional jobs, mostly in insurance as an adjuster, but one job she held for almost 8 years was second command under the president of a shipping and travel company. She was HR, payroll, and IT in one person. But she was also an artist, crafter, designer, inventor, organizer, mother, wife, and strong arm of the family. She had such greatness.
I knew she was talented from the start. I have said to a few of you, on occasion, you have the "it factor." The seed to become as great or greater than Christine. I can't explain it, but I know it when I see it. With some nudging, I got her to accept her roles, and soon she was running the FanTek art show. The Katsucon Staff suite. Then Katsucon itself. But she never saw it. George Carlin once said flowers at a funeral were useless. "All those flowers, all too late." I look at everyone here, and kind of feel the same. She really had no idea how much we all loved her. She suffered from a lack of confidence which, as she looks down now, surely must know I wasn't blowing smoke up her ass. Finally. That also goes for the rest of you I gave that speech to. Don't wait to die to know how awesome you are.
She was grateful she met all of you. We spent many nights talking about how awesome you all were, or worried about some of you and how you were doing. Is there anything we can do? We did what we could. I hope we helped. Most of the good ideas were hers.
She was my foxhole buddy. Same side of the war against injustice. We supported gay and straight, tall and short, thin and fat, simple and complex. We covered each other during bombshell attacks, and tended to each other's wounds. We were better than the sum of our parts. And the product of our love became apparent these last two weeks, as your outpouring support that only I got the advantage of.
I can't tell you how to carry on from here. I will still stay in fandom, perhaps leaning on you more than I used to, so I hope you don't mind. Last time I was single, I was nineteen, mobile phones were the size of suitcases, and Johnny Carson was still hosting the tonight show. I don't know how to be single in my 40s. But I do know that her favorite line from Dr. Who was "Be extraordinary." So I will try. And if you want to honor her memory, find something you're really good at, and excel at it. If you won't do it for yourself, do it for her. Don't waste your life doing something because you "outta" and don't wait for permission to do what you want.
Christine, the little badass girl from the hill. I never stopped loving her.
This was a eulogy delivered by Julie Zakar, who took over her job as Division head of the Japanese Cultural Institute for Katsucon Opening Ceremonies on Feb 13, 2015
I first met Christine at Katsucon in 2011. She was the Vice Chair and Director of Guests that year and I had come as part of the musical guest. Immediately, we got along. But little did I know then what sort of path she would set me on. You see, over the past five years, I have gone from musical guest to panelist to JCI staff to JCI Assistant Division head, and now, with mixed emotions, I am Director of JCI. If you had asked me five years ago if I ever expected to work at an anime convention in any other capacity than as a guest, I think I would have laughed at the absurdity. But Christine was the one who asked me to stay on as staff, and, like so many others, I could never say no to Christine.
Christine was a power, a force. She was the woman with the golden touch. Everything seemed to run smoother just for being in her presence. I remember, I had always admired the smooth way Katsucon seemed to run in comparison to other conventions. I had always thought it tremendously lucky that everything seemed to run so easily and without major incident. Of course, as years went on, I realized that it wasn't luck. It was Christine. The calm, collected way she handled every crisis, the unseen work and negotiation she did to turn every mountain into a molehill; every maneuver was extraordinary and to a level which I only dare hope to achieve.
She was passionate and steadfast with a sharp mind and a kind heart. I loved the way Christine smiled, her eyes radiating joy, and I loved the way she would message me late at night with little random bits of conversation that always made me laugh. And I loved the way she welcomed me into the warmth of her home on countless occasions. But what I loved most about Christine was the way she loved. Christine had an eye for people the way others have an eye for fine art and if you caught her eye, her love would be instantaneous and complete. She collected these people like treasures and she held them close - tightly, dear, and precious. She was not someone who loved you in spite of your flaws, but rather because of your flaws. She held no pretensions and understood that at the root of it all, we are all imperfect humans, and she loved her friends for it with the sort of love that could only be given by someone who truly knew you, flaws and all.
She was more than just a friend or a mentor for me, she was family, the big sister I always wished I had. I am better for having known her, and blessed for having been counted as her friend. These memories are the ones I hold tight to in these times when I miss her most and I know that her indelible impression will forever be left on JCI and Katsucon. She was irreplaceable and will forever be missed.