March 2006 - My cousin Theresa called. Marie is very sick. She has complained of abdominal pain and was admitted to Robert Wood Hospital in NJ for an ERCP. They removed a stent previously left in, but found tons of small stones. After the procedure, she still felt sore and had some trouble breathing. She stayed at the hospital 5 days. I saw her on Saturday and we were joking about her kids and our families. She had no appetite, but was in good spirits. She went home the next day.

April 2006 - Two more procedures were done. It was discovered that there were more stones and inflammation in her bile duct. She was admitted to Valley Hospital and then transferred again to Robert Wood Johnson. My cousin Theresa is frustrated at the lack of a diagnosis. It seems that Marie continues to suffer abdominal pain and general weakness without anyone telling us what is wrong. HOW CAN WE FIX IT??

May 2006 - My family and I went to Mary’s Holy Communion Party. Mary is Theresa’s youngest child. Marie was there in pretty good spirits. She had been losing weight (yet joking that she was grateful about it.) but wished that she had the appetite for the fabulous offerings of sausage and peppers and chicken marsala, etc. She has lost NOTHING on her ability to govern her kids (and scare them to death if necessary!) She also lost NONE of her fabulous sense of humor regaling us with tales of her kids’ antics and her husband’s general shortcomings.

June 14, 2006 - Marie called Theresa at home. She could not eat at all and was coughing up blood. Theresa called 911 and Marie went to Valley Hospital. Although they have always been great to Marie there, this time they said that here illness was too severe. After 4 days and a battery of tests, she was asked if she wanted to go back to NYU. Theresa and Steve (Marie’s husband) ADAMANTLY refused and then she was transported to Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in NYC.

June 2006 - My mom has been going to see Marie twice a week. She perks up when my mom is there, but when Theresa and Steve are there all day, Marie fades in and out of consciousness and battles delirium. They think she is just bored and tired of being there. She misses her kids and her life.

June 2006 - Today I saw Marie at Columbia-Presbyterian. By the grace of God, our cousin Danny works there. He has facilitated things like parking and guest passes, etc. Marie has an attendant with her 24 hours because she fell out of bed last night. I say hello and am my silly self in an attempt to get some response from her. She is actually completely lucid. She is weak and speaks a tad slower than normal, but otherwise does not miss a beat. She wants to go home. She wants to see her kids. She is tired of the hospital.

June 2006 - Theresa called me. She is very upset. The diagnosis is in. Marie has pancreatic cancer. The doctors do not think she’ll live until Christmas.

July 2006 - My mom and I went to the hospital. Marie is to be released soon, but Theresa and Steve are struggling to find her a full-time care facility that is covered by Steve’s insurance. The ones they like are far away. The ones close by are NOT covered. It is am impossible decision. When we were talking to Marie, she has recently seen her kids and was thrilled and wanted to talk about it. She was in good spirits, but tired.

August 2006 - I just came back from vacation. I met my mom at Marie’s house. While I was gone, Steve and Theresa were told that Marie may only have 4-6 weeks left on this earth. She wanted to go home and she did-August 8th-6 years to the date from her liver transplant. Her liver was thriving, but her pancreas was poisoned with cancer. They brought a hospital bed home for her and Theresa and my mom arranged for a family member to be there every day with her. When I arrived, she was sitting up, selecting a treat from a Russell Stover box. She really had no sweet tooth, but she just liked looking. We looked at vacation photos. She sat with her kids watching bad afternoon TV and talking.

August 2006 - I went to visit. She is not as strong this time. My mom bought her a “hair-drain” that was to help her get her head washed while in bed. Mom and Theresa and Marie were cracking up as the tested the machine and it proved to work. Marie was thrilled at having her hair washed. I didn’t stay long. She was sleepy.

August 28, 2006 - I was in the parking lot at Shop-Rite this morning when my cell phone rang. I almost never answer it because it lives in the car. It was Theresa. “She’s gone.” That was all she said. She was crying. Steve had called Theresa early to say that she’d better get over because he thought she was going. When Theresa arrived about 8 am, she had passed. I was stunned. I thought there was more time. We always think that there is more time. I met my mom up at Marie’s house that afternoon. My mom got to see her before they took her away. I missed her by a few minutes. That’s OK with me. I always think the spirit leaves the body the moment life does. I believe that Marie stayed in the house with us that day hugging each of us as we needed it.

I don't know what else to say.

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