Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Past Few Days Are A Blur

Our daughter is now buried and life goes on. The last few days have been such a blur that it doesn't seem real. Lauren's calling hours were on Thursday and so many people came to pay their respects. People that were expected, people that were only in her life for a short time but cared enough come, classmates, relatives, people who work with Mark, friends of mine, and people who came from so far away. We were very touched that over 300 people came through the door at the funeral home to tell us how sorry they were and what a beautiful, sweet girl Lauren was. Thank you to all of you that took the time for Lauren and for us. It was difficult for us to see Lauren in her casket. She looked beautiful, but not really like our daughter. I thought her mouth looked different. I know this was only the shell of Lauren, and that her soul and spirit were already gone. She had on a really pretty dress that Kristen and I had gotten for her and a white sweater and pink scarf. I kept touching her hair. Her face and hands were very cold to the touch and her arms felt weird to me. It made me upset that she was so cold. We lifted the cover to make sure her little pink footies were on her feet and they were. Lauren was holding a rosary and had a crucifix with her. Gio's Mom had a rosary made out of roses and it was hanging in Wo's casket. It was so beautiful. Gio had all of Wo's rings on her fingers and left the wedding ring on her, but took her engagement ring to wear on his neck chain. We all stood up by Wo's casket for four hours during the calling hours and were all so emotional and tired afterwards. We had Lauren's wedding dress and veil on display for everyone to see because she was so excited to finally get married to her love, Giovanni. She was so proud of that dress and it sparkled and looked so beautiful, only not as beautiful as she would have looked in it. We had large foam boards of pictures of Wo throughout her life and her dear friend, Melissa, also made one. Kristen put together a slide show that ran the entire time of the calling hours. Many people just sat and watched it, some laughing, and then crying. It was time to leave our girl and get some rest, because the next day was her funeral. Kristen and Bruce, Matt and Katie, and Michael stayed at Gio's that night. Many friends came over as well to keep him company. My Mom and Dad stayed with our friends, Danny and Ann from Wadsworth. Mark, Ryan, and I stayed at our house. My sister, Linda and her husband, Wayne had left for Las Vegas the day before Lauren passed. We all urged them to go, not really thinking things would take a turn for the worse so fast. I felt so bad for them because they wanted to come home so bad after hearing the news, but could not get a flight back that didn't cost more than their whole trip. They finally made it home Thursday night and came up with only a few hours of sleep. We all met at the funeral home at around 11:00, before the calling hours that began at noon and lasted until the service at 1:00. I brought Lauren's baby blanket that she has kept in her pillow all these years from home and Mark layed it in her casket next to her.  There were many people that attended the funeral service including Lauren's surgeon, Dr. Sonnenday and one of Lauren's SICU nurses that we absolutely love named Kim. There were others that came all the way from Michigan and my dear friend, James, drove all the way from Virginia as well as Lauren's friend, Bianca that came just as far. We were so touched by everyone that made the long journey to say good bye. The service was officiated by a priest from St. Anthony's named Father Jim. It was a very heartwarming service. Bruce also spoke and gave such a beautiful talk about Lauren. When the service was over, everyone was dismissed row by row and walked past Lauren in her casket. We got to say our final good byes and I tucked her blanket around her hand so that she would have it forever. We also had Wo's wedding dress and veil put in her casket with her. The casket was loaded into the hearse and we drove to the grave. Many people chose to walk since it wasn't very far. There was a small awning and four chairs under the awning. Mark and I and my Mom and Dad sat while Father Jim spoke once again and said a prayer. The funeral director handed all of us a rose from Lauren's flowers that were on top of her casket. We visited with family and friends at the gravesite for a little while. We went back to Gio's and visited with family and friends. We were thrilled that Dr. Sonnenday came to the house and we got to visit with him. He could not stay for the wake because he had to get back to Michigan to do a liver transplant later that night. We all left to go to the Carovillese Club for Lauren's wake. Gio's family had graciously offered to do this for us. We had wonderful Italian food from Dontino's restaurant and cake made by Jolene. Many people made cookies too. The place was decorated in red and white. Lauren's favorite color was red. Thank you so much to the Ricchiutis, Romeos (Gio's Nonni and Pa), Jacqui and her family and friends, Dontinos (Anthony, Big Tim) and everyone else that made this such a beautiful celebration of Lauren's life. We felt the love. Most of our relatives and friends left for home. Sis and Bruce didn't leave until Sat. night. Mark and I went and bought me a comfy chair that rocks to take to the cemetery when I go to visit Lauren. We go every day to visit her, even if it is for a short time. We are going to Summit Monument tomorrow to look at stones for Lauren's gravesite. We have in mind what we want for her, so hopefully we can get it soon. I am keeping very busy. I went to breakfast with friends yesterday and they sure did cheer me up. Thank you Dawn, Debbie, Chyrel, Ruth, and Liz!!! Mark and I had gone to Donzell's and Canton Road Garden Center and bought a bunch of flowers on Sunday. I am having fun planting all of them and making pots. I would like to thank all of you that sent cards, flowers, and donations for the  Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation and TMT Rescue. We are overwhelmed by your generosity and hopefully many people and furry friends will be helped. I will continue to update this blog from time to time. It really helped me to write my feelings down and I hope some of you might consider writing one. Thanks again for everything and I will talk to you soon.


Our precious girl's gravesite. May she rest in peace.


A message to Wo from her little brother when she was in the hospital.


  1. Pam, Mark, Gio and Family,

    My heart breaks for all of you. I'm sure you are feeling numb at this time. We still keep waking up and thinking that all of this was just a horrible nightmare and our Sara will be walking in the door or calling anytime. Time does help in some ways, Lauren will always be with you and when you least expect it you will feel her with you in some way. God bless you all and curse this horrible disease. My love to you all.


  2. Not a day goes by that I don't think of all of you......I know I'm not the only one.

    I wish so bad that I was in town for Wo's funeral so I could have driven up to see you all. Thank you, Pam, for writing this post so I can feel like I was there.

    Hang in there - you are one tough lady - just like Wo :)


  3. Dear Pam,

    I had the privilege of knowing your daughter. I actually worked with all of you at Giant Eagle a few years back.
    Lauren was kind, beautiful, and gracious. I remember her laugh. I was around for the very beginning of her relationship with Gio, and I got to see it blossom into an amazing thing before I left Giant Eagle.
    Because we have mutual friends, I heard of Lauren's diagnosis.
    Lauren and I were never close, but reading this blog that you have kept has been a very moving experience for me. I have silently followed Lauren's tragedies and triumphs as she courageously battled her cancer. I want you to know that your words and thoughts were a beautiful thing to read, and I want to thank you for sharing them.
    Even though I left employment at Giant Eagle, I stayed in the area, and not long ago, I saw your daughter and Gio at a local grocery store. I was a few aisles over from them, but I heard your daughter's laugh and Gio's voice, and I knew that is was them before I even saw them. They looked so happy together, and Lauren looked beautiful and full of life. I thought about approaching them, saying hello, asking Lauren how she was feeling...but I didn't...because she and Gio were having this moment, and I just didn't want to interrupt what I was seeing. They looked very much in love.
    I am so sorry for the loss of your daughter. I pray for you, your family, and Gio everyday. I know that no words can bring you comfort. I just wanted to share the last memory that I have of Lauren, and that it is one that calls to mind how happy she seemed, and how beautiful she was.