I knew Riva for more than 40 years. At her healthiest she was less than five feet tall, weighed less than 100 pounds and, when energized or angry, she had the mouth of a longshoreman. Feisty is the word that comes to mind.
When she was diagnosed with emphysema, Riva put up more than a vigorous fight, she seemed to take on the whole world. She fought it for 20 years and lived vigorously during those years.
In the last few months of her life, she was hospitalized for a number of lung related ailments and her weight dropped down to about 70 pounds. She was offered and received all sorts of treatments, procedures and medications at huge expense. During her last hospitalization, finally fed up, she complained bitterly they were "killing her." She took control and removed the IVs that were providing her hydration and medications. She demanded to be released AMA (against medical advice.) She just wanted to go home and die.
Riva knew of my interest in death with dignity. I was called to visit her and talked with her about her most recent hospitalization. She complained she was miserable and uncomfortable in the hospital, they were causing her great pain and discomfort and they were "killing her." When I asked what she wanted, she said, "I just want to die. Can't they give me something to do that?"
We were in California. Not Oregon or Washington—the two states with Death with Dignity laws at the time.