Monday, March 30, 2009


I've found these stages of GRIEVING SO FAR.

SHOCK: Even though we've been preparing for this for 27 years, when it happens it is still a complete shock. Every time Kimmi went in for surgery, especially this past year, we knew it could be her last. But, the complete shock was still there. You can never prepare for this!

DISBELIEF: Even when the doctors told us that she coded for 15 minutes; Even when we first saw her; Even when the MRI showed damage; even when the brain scan showed no life, Even when they told us she was brain dead; Even when we took her home to her bed and watched her breathe her last beautiful breath and go into the arms of Jesus; EVEN THEN, WE STILL DIDN'T BELIEVE! It just wasn't possible. Even when we buried her precious body, we still couldn't believe we'd never see her in this life again.

ACCEPTANCE: Ok, we accept her passing. we know her body is dead, but her spirit is with Jesus. That is about the only thing that we have to keep us going; to keep us sane. That is the only thing that helps us accept her death. But, it hurts more than anything ever hurt before. There are giant holes in our hearts and we don't know how to fix it.

WHY GOD, WHY?: What did we do to cause You to take her from us? What did Kimmi do? Why did she have to leave us so suddenly and so soon? Why didn't You heal her? How could You take her away from us, and tear our hearts out like that? Why God, Why?

YOUR WORD: I don't know what we'd do without Your Word! I don't know how a non-believer could ever survive such a trajedy believing they will never see their loved one again; believing their loved one is just dead - that's all, no afterlife. Even though we don't understand, we trust You and Your Word. You said that Your ways are not our ways. You see the BIG Picture while we see the tiniest fraction of it. When Jesus was about to die, he cried out, "Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken away from Me, yet, not as I will, but as You will." Matt 26:39. In Isaiah55:8, the Lord said, "My ways are not your ways."

TRUST: Lord, help us to understand your ways so this cup will flee from us; so this pain will go away. Help us to understand Your will so we can fully accept losing her in this life. I don't understand, BUT I TRUST YOU. Although we are in pain, our baby girl feels no more pain, no more suffering, no more sickness, no more sorrow. She is completely happy in the arms of Jesus, enjoying Your love for all eternity. If it wasn't for Your Word and knowing that Kimmi is with you right now, we'd never be able to drink from this cup. Lord, we love You and we trust You. Thank You for allowing us the pure pleasure of enjoying this special GIFT from You. Thank you for loving us so much, that You gave us this most precious little angel from heaven, even if only for a short while. You blessed us beyond imagination.

Friday, March 27, 2009


I've had FIVE real heroes in my life. Sure, as a little boy, I thought of Johnny Unitas and Mickey Mantle (met him) as heroes, but they really weren't. Then, there was Dr. J. and the Sixers from 77-79, especially since I got to play basketball with them several times a week - true story that I might share some time. There was also my parents, and a few uncles when I was little. Also looked up to 2 teachers from grade school (Sr. Ivan and Mr. Rupp) and even wanted to teach after the military because of them. Then, there is my wife, a very special lady like my mother.

BUT, my real heroes were Jesus, Abraham Lincoln, Mother Theresa and my three children. Jesus needs no explanation because jesus is the true meaning of love. Abe, of course because of his belief that all people are created equal and fought for the rights of all people. Mother Theresa was also easy. A tiny little woman physically that had the heart of a 100 foot giant. She devoted her life to loving the unloved and caring for the sickest, weakest, filthiest and poorest of the world. When asked how she could care for the slime from the slums, she stated, "I don't se the filth. All I see is Jesus!"

BUT, why my children? If you knew them really well, they'd be your heroes too. And, if you know of the lousy job I did as their dad, you'd be shocked that they turned out so well. All three of them have the love of God. All three loved the unloved and protected the weak. These are just a few examples of their love for the weak and unloved, their integrity and their decency.

ROB: When he was 5, we visited New York City. At the Statue of Liberty, Robby kept pestering us for a toy statue that he really needed, like any boy would. There was a homeless gentleman in the park. It was miserably hot, but this guy was wearing an overcoat and carried all his belongings in a shopping cart. He smelled really bad, and looked worse. My sister and I started making fun of him, even where he could hear us. Seeing how we treated this poor man, Robby started crying and walked up to him to give him his new "prized" statue. I felt so small and so ashamed, convicted by the love of a 5 year old. We ended up giving the gentleman $5 so Rob would keep his statue, and walked away with a different view of homeless people. Rob's integrity and decency has never changed. He still has no problem letting me know that I might be doing something enethical even if really minor.

CRAIG: I don't know if I'll ever get this exactly right, but walking home from Jr. High one day, Craig came across several boys picking on this skinny kid, all about the same age as Craig. They had a broken beer bottle, and were threatening to cut the kid up. Not thinking about himself, Craig intervened and chased the thugs away. He literally risked injury to protect someone he didn't know. He and the skinny kid became friends after that. Like Rob, Craig maintained the same attitude and spirit ever since. He is a loving, patient father, deacon and youth leader in his church, and has gone on numerous mission trips. It has to be God because I didn't instill that in him.

KIMMI: Don't know where to begin with this girl. Born with a deadly disease that eventually took her life, she always maintained a positive attitude and never felt sorry for herself. When she lost her first kidney and had to be on peritoneal dialysis (tube in her belly) at the age of 9, we feared she'd never be able to handle it. Upon leaving the hospital, the tube popped down out of her shorts. We panicked, but Kimmi just smiled and tucked the tube back in, "No big deal." But, even moreso than the boys, she always loved the unloved. She never looked down on anyone, never judged anyone, especially the poor, dirty, or weak. In fact, it was her nature to seek out the unloved and love them. At her wake and funeral, person after person (most of them poor and unloved) came up to us, introduced themselves and told how Kimmi loved them as her very best friends. Although we were very wealthy compared to them, Kimmi never looked down on them like most people did. This little angle loved them the way Jesus did.

I've learned so much from my children. I've learned to love the less fortunate, not to judge others because of their situations, to treat people fairly and honestly and to try to understand people's situation before criticizing. Although I eventually got my love from Jesus, it was first modelled for me by my children. I thank God every day for blessing me with such wonderful children.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


We went shopping at KOHL's tonight. At some point, we in the teen or pre-teen area. Without thinking, I picked up a pair of below-the-knee shorts or whatever and told Evey, "These would really look cute on Kimmi." Then, it hit me. However, we regrouped and found other outfits that would look good on Kimmi. This was the first time we enjoyed something. It didn't hurt to look at clothes for her. We even enjoyed it. We always enjoyed looking at clothes for Kimmi and thinking how cute she'd look in it.

Dear Bob and Evelyn,

Hello, I just wanted to write you an e-mail to let you know I've been thinking of you and praying for you. You are definitely in my heart and my thoughts as Kimmi is. I am also writing you to let you know what happened to me the other night. After getting off the phone with you and getting home to be with my kids (went to a friend's house to just cry), my husband had explained to my boys "why Mommy was crying" and let them know as best as he could what had happened. My oldest boy Hunter remembers Kimmi, pretty well actually.

Well, I was getting in bed and two out of three kids were asleep. The only one still awake was my middle child Mason. He was already laying in my bed watching cartoons. As I was getting in bed he said to me, "Mommy you're sad huh?" And I said, "Yeah, Mason, Mommy is sad. He then said to me, "Why are you sad?" I said, "cause Mommy's heart is broken cause her friend is no longer here". He said, "I know her heart stopped "beeping" didn't it?" I said,"Yeah baby it did". He then asked me, "Well Mommy can't we just get some tape and fix her heart and your heart so no one will be sad?" I said, "No baby it doesn't work that way, tape can't fix everything." It has stayed with me the last couple of days. How simple it is for children and how it is so much more complex for adults and as parents we do the best we can explaining things to our children. Just a funny thought, that I know Kimmi would have adored. Thank you for your time. I hope it brought a small smile to your face.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Miss YOU Kimmi


We miss you so much. The house seems so empty without you to soothe the lonliness, without your smile to warm us up and without your prescense to make us feel valuable. We miss your jokes, your calming influence, and even your dumb reality shows just because they were a part of you. We miss worrying about you when you're away and miss our feeling of satisfaction and security when you're home with us. We miss sitting at the table with that special angel that made it enjoyable to sit and talk. We miss your driving abilities, even thought they scared the daylights out of us. We miss your love for your baby (Millie) showing us just what real love is. We really miss taking care of you. We felt so much more close to you when you needed us to take care of you, but also when you wanted us around because you loved us right back. But, most of all we miss the love of God that we saw in you every day. You had that kind of love for everyone and you shared it liberally.

People say we are free to do things now. FREE? Without you, we lost our freedom. We chose to be with you, to take care of you and to love you in every way possible. That freedom was taken away when we lost you. But we also know that you are with Jesus, and have no more pain or sickness. That makes us so happy and relieved to know that Jesus finally healed you and protects you in His loving arms. Take care Baby Girl. We pray that Jesus and time will fill the huge holes in our hearts, but we will NEVER forget YOU! We will never forget all the love that you brought to our lives and our hearts. We thank God for letting us borrow you these nearly 28 years.

P.S. We are taking good care of Millie.


This was sent by my daughter-in-law. It speaks so much about my Kimmi.

We can't know why the lily has so brief a time to bloom
in the warmth of sunlights kiss upon its face,
before it folds its fragrance in and bids the world goodnight
to rest its beauty in a gentler place.

But we know that nothing that is loved is ever lost
and no one who ever touches a heart can really pass away,
because some beauty lingers on in each special memory
of which they've been a part.


Growing up was a special time because we always had a large family around us. First, I had 3 brothers and a sister which made a family of seven. But, my mom had 9 brothers and sisters which added 20 more close people including wives. Add their children, another 50 or so, and you have quite a family reunion. And, except for 2 uncles, we all lived within 10 miles of each other. My dad's side was another story. They were never that close. His brother lived in Hays, like us, but we rarely saw them. A step sister lived about 60 miles away, and we felt closer to them than all the others.

Since my mom's family was close and my dad's wasn't, we gravitated to mom's side. I will never forget the family gatherings. Christmas, Thanksgiving, usually a summer reunion or two. Then, we usually went to my grandma's house every Sunday evening. It was always a great time having fun, sharing everything, and feeling loved. We called every uncle and aunt by first name, even Sister Paddy. There was quite a bit a drinking, visiting and playing games, no matter the weather. Of course, we'd run into each other many times throughout the year, and we always had a great time. There is something about family that just makes things better.

As we grew, my sibs and I all moved away (4 out of state and my sister moved to Wichita, 90 miles away). Brother Art eventually moved back to Kansas (Larned), about 40 miles away. I was in the military, so could be anywhere. But, when I came home (usually for a month), we'd all be together again and we'd all have a great time. Unfortunately, as time goes by uncles, aunts, and even our parents passed away. There are only three uncles and aunts left. With our parents gone, we really don't have much reason to go back home except for a funeral or wedding. And, since we no longer have mom and dad, my sibs and I rarely see each other.

Fortunately, I married into even a larger family. My wife's grandmother on her mom's side had 14 kids. And, they were also very close. They lived just 20 miles to the south of Hays, so we also visited them quite a bit. Again, her dad's side wasn't very close and lived almost 300 miles away, so we didn't go to see them much. But, the reunions were something else. I have never been able to remember the names of all the uncles and aunts, let alone the cousins. But, a few were closer, so we knew them better.

We've lived in the Omaha NE area for over 20 years now. It became our home because of the military, but mostly because Kimmi's doctors were here and there were only a very few places we could take her. However, we live a minimum of 300 miles from any family, so don't see anybody that much. We are a small family with 3 children (now 2), but we are still a close family in heart. Kimmi passed away at 4:43 p.m. on March 3, 2009, and is still in our hearts every second of the day. She is in Heaven with Jesus.

Unfortunately, our boys also moved away (Craig to Davenport, IA and Rob now lives in England). When he moves back, he'll probably be back in Peoria, ILL. So, we don't get to see them that much, but still do at Christmas. With Kim always sick, it was rare that we could go to see the boys. Now, that she has left us to be with Jesus, we will be able to travel more. But, we usually talk to them of the phone a couple times a week. And, we even set up an Internet View Cam (Kimmi did this for us old, uneducated folks) so we can see each other.

We visited Craig and family this past weekend. We were so happy to see them, but felt so much lacking with Kimmi gone. We still had a great time with Craig, Missy, and our grandaughter Maddie. On Sunday, we went with them to a family reunion on Missy's side. A large part of her family was there for a baby shower. It felt so good to be around a large, but close family again. It took me back to my family reunions as a child.

I am so happy that both of my boys married into large, close-knit families. Rob's wife has 5 sisters, and all live in Omaha. They will always have large families to gather with. Even when we are gone, my boys will have lots of family around to make them feel at home and feel loved. One only realizes the importance of a family, especially a large close-knit family when we lose part of that family. We thought about moving closer to the boys, but how could we ever leave Kimmi? We could still move her with us, but will need a permanent place where the boys will always be, so we don't have to move over and over. And, of course, we still have a group of friends that, in many ways, replaced our nuclear family. They are much of our family now.

I so miss the times of my childhood when I felt the warmth and security of my family, but I cherish the times we have now, even if mostly in our hearts. Not an hour goes by that I don't think of, and miss, my boys and families. Not a minute goes by, now, that I don't think of Kimmi and miss her so much. Into my dying days, I will always be thankful for my family and will always cherish the time spent with my family, especially my own family: Evey, Rob and Jeni, Craig and Missy with Maddie, our beautiful, beautiful little angel Kimmi, and any other grandchildren that come along. I can't wait to get to heaven and see all my family again, especially Kimmi. What a glorified reunion that will be when we all gather around Jesus and then stay together forever in eternity.


Kim's real friends (those who stayed with her when she was sick or in the hospital) were Bambi, Shawna, Paul, Mike, and Holly much of the time. Never saw the other 'friends', especially that family, when Kimmi needed friends! It was when she was sick at home or in the hospital that she really needed friends, but most of those times it was just her family and her pets (Prince, Millie, and Peanut) that kept her company. Bambi was there when Kim was younger, but moved away. Paul was a godsend. He was the only man who would love Kimmi back the way she loved him. He filled a major part in her life. They wanted to marry and have children, but it was impossible because of her medical condition and mainly for insurance reasons. Kim was still our dependent and under our military insurance. Without that, her medical bills could never be paid (several million) and she'd die from lack of funds. Mike was there many times when nobody else was, Holly was there many times, and dear sweet Shawna. Shawna was ALWAYS there for her friend. They were BEST Friends. Thank you to her REAL FRIENDS for being there when Kimmi neede you.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Kimmi's Heart

Bambi called tonight. She hadn't heard about Kimmi's passing so it really hurt her. However, we had a very nice talk, and the one thing she mentioned most about Kimmi was the same thing everyone else told us about Kimmi: It was her HEART! She had a HEART OF GOLD! She loved everybody, especially those that nobody else could ever love. I never heard her put anyone down, never knew her to be mean to anybody and never knew her to judge anybody. She just seemed to love everybody. She would even scold Evey and me when we'd judge others.

Everyone we talked to at the funeral and wake said the same thing: KIMMI WAS LOVE. She seemed to love everybody. It didn't matter if rich or poor, smart or not so, clean or dirty. She loved them, and she would be their friend. I still remember some of the characters she brought home. I about had a heart attack when she brought Larry, Darryl and Darryl home (these three reminded me of the characters on the Newhart Show, even looked as shabby as them). But, they were her friends. I wanted to commit murder when she brought another character home (high school dropout, in trouble with the law, stole from me, and used Kim in the most hateful ways. Even his family used her over and over and were never friends to her), but Kimmi considered him and his family friends. Other people came and went in her life (mostly for a selfish short while) but they were her friends even when she knew they were using her.

1 Samuel talks about a man who was an adulterer, murderer, and lousy, lousy father who raised his kids in anything but a Godly way. But, God said that "David was a man after his own heart". God made him the king of all Israel, a line that Jesus had to descend from to be legitimate.

Although I didn't always approve of Kim's ways or actions, I do know that she had that HEART OF GOD! Like Jesus, she loved the unloved, lifted up the useless, and cared for the uncared for. She'd give her last dollar to the needy, then have to borrow from us to pay bills. she'd take care of friends, then do without for a month. And, she'd never ask for the money back. Many never paid her back. She'd drive for people even when she didn't have gas money. She would always try to be a friend, even to those who didn't treat her right.

So, we weren't surprised when so many told us about her heart, her love and her friendship. Even the church staff told us that Kim's funeral attracted more people than they ever had before. With such a small family, most of them living very far away, they still came; many flying thousands of miles. We expected about 75 people, but over 250 came. These were her friends, the ones that she loved over the years.

How did so many people love her so much. It was her HEART OF GOD and her LOVE for others that brought people from all over the Omaha area to say "Goodbye" to a precious angel from heaven.

Kim's real friends (those who stayed with her when she was sick or in the hospital) were Bambi, Shawna, Paul, Mike, and Holly much of the time. Never saw the other 'friends', especially that family, when Kimmi needed friends! It was when she was sick at home or in the hospital that she really needed friends, but most of those times it was just her family and her pets (Prince, Millie, and Peanut) that kept her company.

Bambi was there when Kim was younger, but moved away. Paul was a godsend. He was the only man who would love Kimmi back the way she loved him. He filled a major part in her life. They wanted to marry and have children, but it was impossible because of her medical condition and mainly for insurance reasons. Mike was there many times when nobody else was, Holly was there many times, and dear sweet Shawna. Shawna was ALWAYS there for her friend. They were BEST Friends.

Wake Up

Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Wake up.

When I wake up I think to myself another day to get through. Always thinking about the things I dont have. Sometimes I feel so alone and that no one would understand. The only thing that keeps me sane sometimes is the fact that I know there are people that will help me and be there. When I feel really down I think about the fact that I have a nice place to live and great parents that would do anything for me. I take it for grantid but not everyone has that. Id probably be in a shelter somewhere if it werent for them. I just pray that things get better with me so I can move on with my llife instead of feeling like Im stuck and everyone around me is moving as Im standing still.

Kimberly's Story - 2001

By The Riedel Family (2001)

Kimberly (Kim) is our third child. She has two older brothers, both of whom are healthy. However, her mother's little brother died of Cystinosis in 1954, before they knew what it was. She was diagnosed with Cystinosis at 9 months. The doctors told us to take our little baby home to die, but gave us a very slim hope with a new experimental drug that might retard her disease.

This medicine (Cystagon) showed promise, but had severe side effects, including death. We chose to fight for our daughter's life and have never regretted it. Kim had a very difficult time with her Cystagon, which only came in a liquid form that tasted and smelled like sulfur. The Cystagon caused Kim to have severe stomach problems, and she was sick much of her early life. She usually vomited up her medicines, but kept enough down to keep her alive. For several years, we had to be quite creative in getting her to take the medicine that she hated so much. The medicine also made her food taste terrible. To this day, she has a strong dislike for milk, fruits, and vegetables, but has a strong craving for very salty foods.

She spent a large part of her early years in the hospital, at the doctor's office, and sick in bed. We never knew when she would get sick, but it happened often. However, there were many good days to go with the bad. A great deal of her hospital stays was the result of complete dehydration, and it was extremely difficult to put IVs into her tiny veins. Her Cystinosis also seemed to make her somewhat lethargic most of the time.

Kim started Kindergarten at age 5, but was a bit behind her classmates because of delayed speech clarity. They thought she'd need several years of therapy, but by the next year she had matured quite a bit. She was also slower, academically, than the other children. We held her back in 1st grade because of physical and educational maturity. We (and she) have never regretted it. She believes that if she'd been passed on, she'd have been behind the rest of her life and is very thankful that we held her back. Kim was extremely shy in school and around adults. She is still the same way today, having a great fear of being in front of a crowd. However, around family and friends, she is quite the lively button, usually the leader in doing ornery things.

At age 10, her kidneys failed. She went on peritoneal dialysis for 14 months. She did quite well with it, but hated to be hooked up to that machine for 12 hours every night. Of course, our family spent a lot of time in the bedroom. After testing both parents, the doctors decided that her father was the best match for a transplant. So, in April 1992, Kim got a new kidney and a whole bunch of new medicines, with their associated side effects - the main one being the puffiness from Prednizone. As time went by, the dosages decreased, and she started to have a more normal life. We were hoping for some growth after her transplant, but it was slow in coming and very little. When Kim was in Jr. High, we noticed she was having a very difficult time academically. She worked extremely hard, but was lagging farther behind. Specialized testing revealed that Kim had some learning disabilities. With more problems, this determined young lady kept fighting. She had to take some special education classes, which she hated because they were so boring. As difficult as things got, she kept working and started improving.

Socially, Kim was a normal teenager who did everything with her friends, with some physical limitations of course. She loves to go shopping and buy new clothes and she likes to tell us about all the "really cute" guys she meets. She also maintained a part-time job, earning enough to buy her own car and pay her own insurance; on top of her regular teen spending. But, she knew that the job would end if the grades suffered.

In November 1998, Kim began having symptoms similar to when her original kidneys failed. After a biopsy, it was determined that the new kidney was failing. After a prolonged illness, the doctors decided that her kidney needed to be removed and she needed to go back on dialysis. After a week in the hospital, she started on home dialysis, doing manual exchanges, which gave her a great deal more freedom. Because of hospital time, Kim had to go to summer school to stay on schedule and graduate with her class. She really worked hard to keep up, and found herself excelling. Since Kim spent so much of her life in hospitals, she had it in heart to become a nurse and help other children. She always wanted to be like the nurses in the children's ward at the hospital, playing nurse a great deal of the time. In high school, career testing helped Kim decide to become a medical assistant, with a possible future in nursing if everything gets better. She started searching for a school and scholarships. She started school at the Omaha College of Health Careers shortly before graduation, and has been going to school ever since, expecting to graduate in February 2002.

Kim has been on dialysis for 2 ½ years, and is still waiting for a transplant. She continues to live each day to the fullest, enjoying every minute of it, while still having some bad days. We firmly believe she will be a great medical assistant, and one day may still become a nurse. With her experience, we are sure she will be of great help to many children (and their parents) as they struggle with illnesses. Knowing what the patient is going through is a gift that healthy people can't understand. And having an understanding ear is sometimes more important than having all the answers. Kim is 4'5" and 85 pounds. Although she is very conscious of her size and has to endure a great deal of ridicule because of it, she keeps her head held high maintains a great attitude. She gets stopped by the police quite often while driving because of her size and young looks. We're sure many Cystinosis patients know that feeling!

We are very thankful for all the doctors, research people, parents, volunteers, pharmaceutical companies, and all the children who work together as a team, searching for a cure for this devastating disease. We are extremely proud of Kimberly for all of her accomplishments, and for overcoming so many obstacles in her way. We are also extremely grateful for the scholarships she's gotten, especially the LYNN POTTS SCHOLARSHIP. To receive a scholarship from those who know her difficulties, personally, makes her award so much more special. We know that Kim will use this gift to bless many more children in the future, as they struggle with their illnesses. Most of all, we are thankful for our heavenly Father, who holds us all in His loving arms. We believe he sustains Kim, strengthens her, and gives her the courage to continue fighting through all her difficulties. Thank You, The Riedel Family

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Good Memories Today

Today was my first good, guilt free, day. Still at Craig and Missy's. Slept late because I couldn't sleep last night, as usual. When we got up, we went looking for a new car for Craig. Had fun looking and test driving cars.

Yes, I thought about Kimmi many times, but memories were good ones. Thank you, Lord, for giving us peace today. Also, thanks to Craig, Missy and Maddie for keeping us busy. We talked about Kimmi, but we kept it all positive and happy. Also talked with Robby for quite awhile. I sure wish he didn't live so far away!

I am so glad that we have so many happy memories of Kim. Even her many times of being sick or being in the hospital leave us good memories. We always showed her our love and she always showed us her love. But, our times together were quality times. Even when she was on dialysis the first time (she was stuck in bed for 12 hours a day) we just spent most of our time in the bedroom with her. Had just as much fun there as anywhere else. We were together, and that is all that mattered.

Although we are physically separated now, she is still in our hearts and minds constantly, which helps us cope. So many people don't have the love that we had, and that would make the guilt unbearable. Kimmi, we love you so very much and miss you terribly. But, we know you would want us happy and getting on with our lives, and that also helps us cope. It was ALWAYS a pleasure knowing you and being with you. You ALWAYS made our lives valuable and fun. You are my hero. I just wish I could see you bouncing in Jesus' lap, and having all that energy and strength. Bye Baby Girl. Love you and miss you. See you later.

Saturday, March 21, 2009


Love is not measured by counting the years, but by making the years count.
Yes, this statement says it all. She wrote this on her MySpace log shortly before she died. And, did she make the years count!

But, why didn't we see the "so obvious" truth? Kim was getting weaker and weaker. Her body and brain were giving out, and it really stood out like a sore thumb. So, why didn't we see it?
Looking back, I don't know how we missed it. She'd sleep for up to 16 hours at a time the last 6 months. Even when awake, she'd stay in bed for hours. She avoided the light more and more the past few months. After dialysis, she'd drop on her chair and be down for hours. And, most of all, even the slightest activity (mashing potatos or emptying the dishwasher) would leave her totally drained.

Kimmi was so strong on the outside, but hid it from us so we wouldn't worry. As much pain as she was in, she still managed to hide it from us completely. But, that is the way she always was. Instead of complaining, she always showed a positive look. When we'd ask if she was sick, she'd just tell us she was a bit tired. Never let us worry!

Her driving got worse and worse. After her passing, we realized that she could barely keep her eyes open, holding onto a very small squint to see the road. She'd eat less and less good food, but piled on the sugar, especially the Puppy Chow. It seemed that she needed extra energy to just function. So, why didn't we see it?


Today we went to Chicago with Craig, Missy and Maddie. Again, it was bittersweet. We've never been to Chicago other than just to drive through. We've never seen the Sears Tower, the John Handcock Building, or Lake Michagan. It went well, but my heart did ache watching other people enjoying their children, especially seeing that fantastic relationship between Craig, or Missy, and Maddie. They look so great together.

Other than a little lonliness, the day went really well, at least until we were on our way back. We stopped at a Texas Roadhouse to eat (one of the places we enjoyed with Kimmi). But, it was ok until we were served the rolls. I grabbed one to butter it, and it hit me square in the head. Along came the tears and the complete emptiness and grief. I immediately thought of Kimmi "buttering my buns". She always put the butter on my roll for me. Now she will never do it again! I started crying and rushed to the restroom to hide my tears. I didn't want to ruin the day for anyone. I felt tremendous loneliness the rest of the night, but did my best to hide it. I started thinking about all the things she did, or we did together, and it left me empty. Lord, please give me peace so I can enjoy life again.


Yesterday, we took our first trip since Kimmi passed away. We went to pick up Maddie and on to visit Craig and Missy. This was a bittersweet vacation.

For years, especially the past 2 years, we couldn't go to visit the boys, take a vacation, or do anything else without taking Kimmi along. We could never allow ourselves to leave her alone, even though she insisted she'd be ok, because we'd never know when she'd go from being ok to passing out in minutes. But, if she wasn't feeling good (most of the time), we just stayed at home with her. I always felt guilty because I felt we were ignoring the boys to take care of Kim. I think they felt hurt by us not visiting them, and even felt jealous of Kim because we built our lives completely around her. They just didn't understand, but they do now! They didn't realize how sick Kimmi was most of the time and how we could never leave out of fear that something would happen. It hurt that we couldn't go to visit them, but there was no way we could leave her.

Now that Kimmi passed away, we are "free" to do things and go places without worry. FREE? How free can we be when our baby girl is dead, and it took her death to free us up to do things. The entire drive to Craigs, I felt guilty because we were going to enjoy ourselves at her expense. How could we enjoy anything knowing she had to die to give us that freedom? How could we ever enjoy ourselves when we didn't have her to share our joy with? And, how could we ever enjoy ourselves when we missed her so very much?

So, the trip was a very long and sad. I don't think 10 minutes went by without me thinking of her, missing her, and feeling guilty about leaving her. We were happy to see Craig, Missy and Maddie, and think about a few days away, but I felt so lonely, so empty not having Kimmi with us. Will I ever get over these feelings? Will I ever be able to enjoy anything again, knowing I will be doing it at her expense? The Lord gave me peace with her death, but now I need peace with this empty feeling and with this guilt of ever being happy or having fun knowing that it took her death to give us that freedom!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Honoring Kimmi

I am writing this blog about my Baby Girl, Kimmi. I suppose I am using it as a way to cope with her death, but also hope to write her love letters as I remember things about her short life with us.

I wanted to start this right away, but didn't have the courage. It hurt too much, especially thinking about her last week. Did she suffer? Did she have any brain activity? Did she panic in the OR? If she did, why didn't the doctors recognize it earlier before brain damage was done? It hurts to think that she suffered in the OR, enough to cause coding, and she was all alone at the time.

I will be writing this blog to honor this very special "hero" of mine. Ever since she was very young, she was courageous with her weak body. She took everything that came her way, but kept her sense of humor, kept her great attitude, kept up her fight, and kept smiling that most beautiful smile. She was a warrior until the end, protecting mom and dad from the truth of her pain.


A Royal Ranger friend was holding his 6 month old son, Levi, tonight. As I reached for Levi's hand, he put his little hand around my finger. I immediately pulled away and started to tear up. You see, the last time Kimmi still had mental ability, while in ICU, she squeezed my finger when I asked her to. It was the last interaction I had with my Baby Girl.

The doctors say she had no brain activity from the beginning, but I know better. That first night, whenever I'd talk to her while holding her hand, her BP would go up and SHE'D SQUEEZE MY FINGER. Sometimes, she'd open her eyes and look right at me. The damage must have been completed that night because she never responded after that. Dear Lord, I hope she never suffered that first night. I still wonder how much she suffered before she coded, and if she suffered after she coded. I always feared her being lost and crying out for her daddy to help her. Even dreamed it many times. Then, when she needed us in the OR, we weren't there! She was alone. How much did she panic before she coded? How much did she suffer? Why didn't the doctors recognize her actions as the beginning of a heart attack? Why didn't they respond more quickly?

In hindsight, I am relieved that she died the way she did. From her writings and from statements of her friends, I learned that Kim had been suffering quite a bit for several months. Her brain was starting to fail and she was having trouble thinking clearly. The neurologist verified it when he said she had the brain of an old person; not soft and pliable like a person her age. She could barely see while driving. She never told me or Evey. She kept it from us so we wouldn't worry about her. She loved us so much that she kept her pain a secret so we wouldn't worry. I am so glad that she didn't have to suffer a long drawn-out death, slowly wasting away in severe pain. And, Kimmi wanted to protect us from having to see her suffer. But, why did she have to suffer at all?

I don't know if I will ever be able to allow a child to hold my finger again. Maybe time will heal this and I can let it go, but for now I can't handle it.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Kimmi's Last Week

These are the E-mails we sent out the week Kimmi died. I'm keeping them here so I don't lose them.

From 3-3-09

RIEDEL – Kimberly Michelle, age 27 of Papillion, passed peacefully from her home into the arms of Jesus on March 3, 2009 surrounded by family and close friends. She was born June 1, 1981. Preceded in death by grandparents Art and Thelma Riedel, Irby Fisher and Albina Birney and aunt Linda Howard. Left to honor her memory are parents, Robert and Evelyn Riedel of the home, brother Robert Riedel Jr. and wife Jennifer of Durham, England, brother Craig Riedel and wife Melissa of Davenport, Iowa with niece Madison Emmerich, many special friends, including Paul Velasquez and Shawna Spracklin, uncles, aunts, cousins, and her treasured puppy Millie. Kim fought a lifelong courageous battle against the genetic disorder Cystinosis, accepting her disease with maturity way beyond her years. She impacted many lives with her gentle spirit and compassion for all people. She will be greatly missed and recently quoted “Love is not a matter of counting the years, but making the years count.” Her story is shared on under “People and Pictures.” Kim was an advocate of organ and tissue donation.
FUNERAL SERVICE Glad Tidings Church Friday at 10:30. VISITATION Thursday, Open from 3-8 with family from 6-8 pm at Westlawn Hillcrest 5701 Center St 556-2500. Memorials to National Cystinosis Foundation or Mid-America Boston Terrier Rescue.

Dear Loved Ones,

I am sorry for the cutting things so close for travelers, but Friday is the only day available this week, and Monday was just too long to wait.

Kim's funeral is tentatively scheduled for Friday at 10:30, but will definitely be Friday morning between 10 and 11. Visitation will be Thursday evening at 7 or 8, don't know yet. Dinner will follow the funeral.

Memorials to The National Cystinosis Foundation or the Boston Terrier Rescue Network, one of Kim's favorite projects, will be appreciated.

For travelers, our children will be setting up a local hotel, and will let you know ASAP.

God Bless


Dear Loved Ones,

Our little Baby Girl went home to Jesus today at 4:45. We brought her home to be in her own home, in her own bed with her pillow, her blanket, and her baby Millie, and with all of her family. She blessed us every day, even in the way she left us for her trip home to be with her first love.

Kimmy passed away very peacefully, and she looks so beautiful and precious laying in her bed. She looks so comfortable, and even has a faint smile.

We will let you know funeral arrangements sometime tomorrow. Please pray for us, especially her mother Evelyn; that we will have peace in this time of sorrow and great joy that she is sitting in the lap of Jesus right now and learning all the fantastic wonders in heaven.



From 3-1-2009

Sadly, this was the day we feared. They did an MRI on Kim's head. The news was all bad. Just about her entire brain sustained damage the day of the surgery; both sides, front and back, inner and outer. Don't really know why she is still living. But the doctor said she doesn't feel pain and does not suffer. THANK GOD!

We didn't talk to the neurosurgeon today, but the Intensive Care Surgeon. Tomorrow, the neurosurgeon will sit down with us and explain our options. We were also told that Kim had a very old brain. In that, I mean that a woman her age would have a soft, pliable brain. But Kim's brain was dried up, showing areas of prolonged wear. This was not from the brain injury, but from many years of wear. That is probably why she would get so tired from doing the most minor of things.

We will not allow her body to suffer anymore, so will allow her to go home with Jesus, where she belongs anyway.

We will still pray for a miracle tonight, Jesus is still in the miracle business, but will prepare for the day we always feared.


I got my confirmation from Kim's friend today. Another friend of hers passed away 2 weeks ago. Kim and Shauna were talking about it when Kim said that she didn't understand it, but she felt a complete peace with her own life. Asked to explain, Kim said that she was going to heaven, and that she would talk to Jesus about saving a place for Shauna. Kim must have known deep inside that this was about to happen. That is all I needed to know to make my heart dance with joy. My baby girl had peace with death for her body, and knew that she would be alive in her spirit. If I have to lose my baby, I have complete peace of mind and spirit knowing this little bundle of love is resting in Jesus' lap. Oh, thank God!!!!


From 2-26-2009


This has been the absolutely worst 3 days of my life, but also the best 3 days of my life. I give everything to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He has blessed us so much these past 27 years with Kim, and He continues to bless us every moment of every day. His loving mercy in a time of crisis, his gentleness whether we are in pain or even downright mad at Him for something we don't understand and His wonderful patience while we may not always be trusting in Him fully keeps me in complete awe at all times.

Yesterday was much harder than Tuesday. Kim made it through the night, but we don't know how. We were hoping for her future , but considering her funeral. Nothing the doctors told us gave us any hope. She coded (heart failure) for over 15 minutes, and they had no idea if she got any oxygen to her brain during that time. All we could do is wait.

Wednesday afternoon, Tim (our nurse) got concerned about her left leg. It was swelling and blood streaks were forming. They did an ultrasound and found a major blood clot. The vascular surgeon came up and told me that they needed to do a very serious and dangerous surgery to relieve the pressure on her leg and eliminate the clot. He also told me that there was a very good possibility that she would have to have her leg amputated above the knee. No time to consider.

What made this worse is her previous 3 surgeries having problems, with her coding the last two. Would she even make it to surgery or would she code right away like the last two? All we could do was pray and call family and friends to pray. We had no choice but to put our precious baby into the hands of her surgeons and of God (God would guide the hands of her surgeons).

Her surgery was supposed to take 2 hours. It took 7! Her doctor had worked since 5 a.m., and was just starting with her at 5 p.m. What they needed to do was cut her leg muscles (possibly all the way from top to bottom) to relieve the pressure on her artery. They also needed to get the clot out and, hopefully find the cause of the clot. After 2 hours, we learned that they got her arterial catheter done; hadn't even started on surgery. Then another 2 hours, she was still doing fine. Her blood pressure was good, and doctors working hard. Then another 2 hours later they expected it to take 2 more.

Finally her surgeon came out. Good news and bad news. They found, and repaired the source of the clot (in putting in her arterial in her vein Tuesday, they accidentally also poked it through her artery causing blood blockage and the clot. Then they started to cut her muscles to relieve the pressure on her artery. They kept her open looking for any other problems, and sewed her up.


Kim is back in her room, but still in extremely serious condition. How would she do through the night? And we still didn't know about brain injury. They were to do a CAT Scan of her lungs and head overnight.

The next morning (today) Kim looked 100% better. She was cleaned up, bandages were clean, and they got this awful thing out of her mouth (forcing it open for ventilator line). But, we still needed to wait for results of her CAT Scan. If bad, they'd have to disconnect her, if good, we'd wait to see if she'd wakes up.

They found bleeding between her skull and brain, but not sure how much. After several hours they determined that the bleeding was very minimal, but still a concern.


When I left at 5 today, Kim was STIRRING! SHE WAS BREATHING ON HER OWN! SHE WAS LOOKING MUCH BETTER, ESPECIALLY WITH THE SWELLING OF HER HEAD ALMOST ALL THE WAY DOWN. They had to strap her down so she wouldn't try to pull out her ventilator line. Now, we just need her to wake up, so we can see how she is doing!


Well, we still need her to wake up, then we need to get her home. Her little puppy has been crying, yes crying tears for her mommy. When we walk in, she is jumping for joy, but then she immediately goes back to the door to find her mommy. So precious!

Please keep praying that she wakes up and improves tremendously and quickly. She still needs to do the fistula surgery if all goes well and she wakes up, but that will be in a while I suspect. Doctors still need to know why she coded the last 2 times.

Thank you all for your prayers and concerns. Just think, to have thousands of people all over the country praying for our little girl. No wonder she got better!