Just now finding out. Sorry to read about this.
I have not seen many of these names since before the great forum sundering and it’s a little heartening to see those names return to attest to how brilliant Christien was on movies and more importantly, as a kind soul.
God damn it.
I’m sure Dingus would rather we joke and make merry, but right now, I can’t. This is so unfair.
Love to his family, especially his son. It was undeniable Christien thought the sun rose and set on him.
Tom, my condolences to you, his family, Kelly, and the QT3 family as well.
I know I’m late coming to this, but it’s still such a shock to me. As everyone has said far better than I could, Christien was an exceptional person. His earnestness, kindness, and patience meant that, even though he was rarely the host on the movie podcast with whom I agreed the most, I was still desperate to hear his opinion. Even with the embarrassment of riches that is ten-plus years of him on the podcast, it’s such a blow that we won’t have any more of his light and laughter. My heart goes out to all the friends and family that he’s left behind.
My favorite memory of talking with Christien, through the limited venue of emails and the forums, was being able to respond to his concern about whether his son was old enough to see Jurassic Park with my own experience as an eight-year-old who was impossibly excited to see a blockbuster about dinosaurs. The way that Christien took in and considered what other people had to say was, to me, the highest form of love and respect that strangers can show on this awful place called the internet and, if I have it in me once I’m done mourning this, I’ll try to be a little more Dingus in how I treat others.
Rest in peace.
I know we’ve been short on details, partly because we were hoping Christien would recover and come back to tell you about it himself. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. But I know Christien would have wanted to share with everyone. If you’ve listened to the podcast or met him, you know how generous he is with his private life, which is why so many of us feel so close to him. He had a way of bringing you in, unreservedly. So I don’t think he’d mind me telling you what happened.
About six months ago, Christien was told his liver was failing and that he would need a transplant at some point. Sucky news, to be sure, but worse things could happen. I even offered him one of my livers, at which point he gave me an amused look and said, “That’s kidneys. You only have one liver.”
I’m positive the only reason he knew this so readily was because he’d been talking to doctors recently. Livers, kidneys, who can keep them straight?
So he was dealing with a failing liver when he contracted what would have been a difficult infection even in someone with a healthy immune system. Unfortunately, it spread quickly as he waited the few days for an upcoming doctor’s appointment. By the time he was supposed to go in for his appointment, the infection had spread dramatically, and it was clear he needed to go to the ER. From there, we were told he had contracted sepsis and needed immediately to go into the ICU to get a new liver as soon as possible. His liver and kidney’s had been effectively shut down by the infection.
Over the course of the next two weeks, give or take – time passed so strangely for all of us – he underwent several operations to remove the infection, because he couldn’t get a transplant until it was safe to shut down his immune system so his body wouldn’t reject a new liver. Bodies don’t know what to make of new organs being stuck in them, so they freak out and attack it with immune systems. So part of what’s precarious about a transplant is that the patient’s immune system has to be shut down. But Christien’s immune system couldn’t be shut down until the infection was gone and his body had stabilized. Removing the infection required several surgeries and, unfortunately but necessarily, a lot of trauma to his body. Ultimately, it was too much in his weakened state, and after a certain point, there was nothing the doctors could do.
During his time in the hospital, he was often on a ventilator and/or unconscious. At times, we could interact with him, and those moments did everyone’s heart good. He would talk to us through eyebrow gestures or writing on a whiteboard or using sign language with his son and ex-wife, who have studied ASL. We read him messages from this thread. On a few precious occasions, he was able to actually talk with us. His family turned out in droves and there was almost literally never a time that a loved one wasn’t in the room with him. I mean, occasionally, everyone got kicked out so he could get a sponge bath or something. But even overnight, someone was in his hospital room with him.
When he finally died, we were all given notice that it was time to come to the hospital and say good-bye. We held his hand, we kissed his forehead, we cried and said good-bye as his heart rate and blood pressure slowly faded. He was in no pain. The last thing he had experienced was an afternoon hanging out with his son.
We’re all still grieving and it’s meant a lot to us what people have been saying in this thread. It’s meant a lot to us to know how many lives he’s touched in such a heartfelt way. It means a lot to read here how Christien did so much good in this world. Thank you all for your posts.
Thanks Tom, I really wanted to ask what happened but didn’t feel like I had the right to ask, so thanks for sharing all that. It was hard to read as it was no doubt hard to write, but I do appreciate knowing all the same.
Thanks @tomchick, I can only imagine how hard that was to write. It was hard to read. But he touched all of us here.
So I want to share a little tribute that feels appropriate. One of my favorite lines from a favorite author (since I read more books than watch movies)
‘No one is actually dead until the ripples they caused in the world fade away’ - Terry Pratchett.
Christien will live a long time in this way.
Thanks for sharing that Tom, so sorry for your loss. All of our loss.
Thank you for this. I didn’t know Christien as well as most of you did, but I liked him a lot, and I’m glad he had his loved ones with him at the end.
Hearing about Christien stuck with me all holiday season reading first about his hospitalization and then passing. It’s made the end of 2019 bittersweet, despite the good times with my own friends and family. I wish I’d had the chance to meet him; his compassion, humility, humor, generosity and cagey sense of wonder have been striking me over and over again as I re-listen to podcasts or happen across one of his forum posts. He was one of the biggest beating hearts of this community, and he’ll be missed by an enormous number of people who, like me, never even met him in person. I lifted a toast to his memory on New Year’s Eve and I wish his family and friends comfort in the New Year.
Thank you for sharing that with us, Tom.
Thanks for sharing that. And I have to admit laughing at the liver/kidney thing. That’s a generous offer!
Thanks for sharing that, Tom. Despite tearing up a bit at work, it was good to get some details and comforting to know that he was surrounded by love in person, as he was here.
Thank you for sharing, Tom. I inferred the sepsis part from what you guys had said but had no idea he had a bum liver as well. Not an hour goes by that I don’t think about him.
Tom … well written, well said.
Christien was … all that everybody says he was. How much his passing affects us out here gives us only just a smidgen of a clue how it must be for you, fire and others that saw him regularly. All the best to all of you.
Well, that certainly lends some extra context to some of the last things Christien and I talked about awhile back. A part of me will never forgive myself for not reaching out to him more often and more insistently – especially with the little things I had in mind for this year’s SS time (even though he wasn’t participating). But I guess that’s just how things are, right – never really know what you’ve got until it’s gone, etc., etc., other trite things that don’t measure up to the man we’re talking about.
I appreciate your sharing, and all the love and kindness you and the others locally showed him, both throughout his life and near its end. I’m deeply grateful to know he had friends in his life like you, and that he was thus enabled to share more of his passion with the world at large.
Thank you Tom, for sharing that. You’re right, Christien would’ve wanted us to know, I think. I was listening to an old movie podcast over the weekend, and for a while it was almost unbearably sad to listen to…but then the sheer joy and fun of the three of you on the podcast and Christien’s energy just kept coming through, and I found myself laughing out loud anyway.