Saturday, August 7, 2010

Happy Heart

I had the privilege of seeing Rene and spending some special time with her yesterday. As Kristen and Jay have mentioned, she is communicating more with her eyes and gestures than she is with words, yet nothing has been lost in this way of communicating. We all know Rene to be such a stellar communicator and because of this, somehow, there is more depth and more meaning in the few words that she does choose to say and the gestures she makes.

I am so humbled and honored to be considered a part of the family and I feel it so powerfully in times like this. When I drove over yesterday, I wasn't sure whether I would even be able to see her for more than just a minute or two, but I wanted to be close, if even for a short time. My time with Rene was so special, and the words that were shared between us will stay with me forever. I have been having a hard time trying to sort out the emotions that arise when I recall our conversation and time together. There are many, but the following three keep coming to the forefront.

I experience sadness. Sadness that Rene won't be with us, physically, every day. Sadness that Kristen, who is more like a sister to me than my own, will not have her mom here to live life with every day - and all that that entails. Sadness that Christopher is losing his best friend and wife. Sadness that her dear cousin Nancy, is losing her best friend and 'sister'. Sadness that Honey and Al are losing their baby girl. There is much to be sad about, yet, even in the midst of this sadness, there is so much more to be thankful for and so much more to focus on.

I am experience pride. Pride in being able to call this woman 'mom' and friend. Pride in knowing that she has lived and IS living with so much love - when we are trying to lavish it upon her, she is lavishing it upon us. Pride in knowing and reading how she has touched each of your lives. Pride (and maybe a twinge of jealousy) in knowing that she will be before Jesus soon.

I am experience awe. Awe of WHO Rene is, not only in my life, but in the lives of so many of you. Awe of the woman she is, the friend, the wife, and the mother she is. What an amazing mother she has been to Kristen - and to me, and to so many. Awe of the pillar that she is in the family. Awe that she is choosing to live this life, her last moments of it, with such love and such grace. Awe that in the face of tragedy she is exhibiting strength and peace - and in turn she is giving strength and peace.

While I will not share all of what we talked about in my time with her, I did, however, want to share a bit of it. The moment I walked in her room, she opened her eyes and raised her hand for me to hold. She focused her eyes on me and instantly all I could do was tell her how much I love her, how proud of her I am, how amazing she is and her response was, "I love you, I love you, I love you." I thanked her for being such a fabulous mom to Kristen, which I know she loved hearing as she said, "Love. Love. Love." I prayed for her. I told her about all of many people love her and how many people are thinking of and praying for her and she put her hand on her heart. I asked, "Do you have a happy heart right now?" (that is something I ask my 3 1/2 year old daughter quite often and Rene always loved that saying). She nodded and continued to pat her heart and hold my hand. She really does have a happy heart.

She is choosing her happy heart by choosing love. She is continuing to love all of us (you included) in this time. You give her a happy heart. I think it is safe to say that she has and continues to give all of us happy hearts. Rene doesn't want us to be sad. She wants us to choose joy, to choose love, and to choose a happy heart. It is much easier said than done, living this simple statement, and choosing a happy heart. But we can choose these things, now and in the future. We can choose to live each day to the fullest and with great joy and love. When we do this, we are honoring Rene and the person she is.

Thank you for your love and support of the family, and thank you for being part of Rene's life. Your thoughts, prayers, notes, and comments have been so encouraging. For those of you who have asked, there are tangible ways to help. Please note the support tabs on the side bar. If you have any pictures of Rene, any pictures at all, please pass them along to Kristen. They are going to make a book or slide show of Rene's life. And what a rich life it has been! If you would like to donate financially, you can do so, (anonymously if you choose), by clicking the donate button. If you would like to provide a meal for the family, please click on the link in the meal support tab. Please do continue to pray, send letters, and place comments. Rene receives them all.

Here's to choosing a happy heart when we would rather choose anger and sadness!

We love you Rene!


  1. Do not stand at my grave and weep,
    I am not there, I do not sleep.
    I am in a thousand winds that blow,
    I am the softly falling snow.
    I am the gentle showers of rain,
    I am the fields of ripening grain.
    I am in the morning hush,
    I am in the graceful rush
    Of beautiful birds in circling flight,
    I am the starshine of the night.
    I am in the flowers that bloom,
    I am in a quiet room.
    I am in the birds that sing,
    I am in each lovely thing.
    Do not stand at my grave and cry,
    I am not there. I do not die.
    ~Mary Frye~

  2. COMFORTING - Thank You
    As we all are processing what has happen with Rene and her family in the last month. I would like to thank her family, Kristen ,Jay,Nina and all the others who have written on this blog. Expressing their thoughts and emotions and life experiences with Rene. Even though alot of us don't know you or have maybe met you only once, but it has helped us/me to try to get through this very sad and hard time. Trying to accept why and understand all of it. My heart goes out to you all, each and every one of you that has been a part of her life, especially her Mom, Dad, Kristen and her family, and Chris her husband. Rene is an awesome person to work with. She brought life, smiles and fun to our jobs. The best part was is she always had chocolate for us. We could always go to her office for our fixes, and you know woman they have to have their chocolate or they get grumpy.

    We are all so very lucky to have shared life with Rene, as all of you.

    Again, I just want to thank the family for your thoughts and comments, even though this is rough for you most of all.

    My soul, prayers and heart is with you.

    Understand I am not very good at writing these kind of things.
    Hugs Toni :)

  3. If I can stop one heart from breaking,
    I shall not live in vain;
    If I can ease one life the aching,
    Or cool one pain,
    Or help one fainting robin
    Unto his nest again,
    I shall not live in vain.
    ~Emily Dickinson~

    Dear Rene,
    You have not lived in vain.
    Love, Laura Gagliasso

  4. Nini and Jay and Kristen and everyone else who sent in messages:
    Thank you for all of the love you have brought to this blog...I have loved your thoughts, emotions and words.
    And Laura, thanks for Emily.

    Here is where I find comfort:

    For everything there is a season,
And a time for every matter under heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;

    A time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;

    A time to kill, and a time to heal;
A time to break down, and a time to build up;

    A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
A time to embrace,
    And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to seek, and a time to lose;

    A time to keep, and a time to throw away;
A time to tear, and a time to sew;
A time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate,
A time for war, and a time for peace.

    Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

    Nancy Fox

  5. this was beautiful, Nini. My prayers are with you, Rene and your family.
    Much love, Stef

  6. Sharing the Abundant Love

    Why must we go out to the far ends of the world to preach the Gospel of Jesus when people do not have to know Jesus in order to enter the house of God? We must go out because we want to share with all people the abundant love and hope, joy and peace that Jesus brought to us. We want to "proclaim the unfathomable treasure of Christ" and "throw light on the inner workings of the mystery kept hidden through all ages in God, the creator of everything" (Ephesians 3:8-9).

    What we have received is so beautiful and so rich that we cannot hold it for ourselves but feel compelled to bring it to every human being on earth.

    Rene you are the living example of these words.

  7. Rene,
    although we haven't seen one another in years, you are always in my heart. I cannot think of St. John Vianney School or Parish without memories of you. Although you were five years older than I, your magnetic personality made you so popular and unforgettable, even to a 3rd grader. I especially remember you coming back in my 7th or 8th grade year and teaching PE to us. I remember you taught us tennis and it is because of your class that I bought my first tennis raquet. We shared our common bond of being Italian-Americans, athletic and loving to laugh. When we reconnected through our mutual friends Steve and Lisa Monahan, I remember sharing some fun times at their house with you. What I remember most is your great big smile and your contageous laughter. Rene, you have left your indelible mark in this world, one of love, love and more love. If only I could live my life so fully as you have lived yours, then I know I would be pleasing God. You are a gift to all who know you. May the love you gave give all of us hope and encouragement as we continue on the journey of life. I look forward to seeing you again my friend so we may laugh some more. God bless you and give you peace.

    Anna Iacomini-Bernardi

  8. Dear Rene,
    This is David Smith, Suzanne Hunting's brother, the one who lives up in Redding. Although it has been about 20 years I believe since I last saw you, immediately when I think of you I see you smiling. And your smile is contagious! Whenever there were get togethers, you were the life of the party. You always made people feel welcome and special. You took that time and made that effort Rene, because you care about people.
    And so many people knew you! It truly was incredible!! I remember us laughing about it at first, then I just came to "accept it" and to expect it, that wherever we would go, people would come up to you with a smile and say "Oh hi Rene, how are you?" I don't think there was one time when we were out and about that you didn't have someone come up to you who knew you. Truly amazing!
    That's because you are such a loving person, Rene! And you are loved by sooooo many people. You have made a profound impression on those who have had the honor to know you Rene. Here it is, 20 years since I have last seen you, and when I think of you, instantly I see you smiling and loving those around you. Thank you for such a wonderful example of how we should all treat each other!
    May God bless you and your entire family Rene. May you be comforted by God's Loving Presence and by the prayers of the MANY people who love you.
    Dave Smith

  9. Hi Rene:

    I spoke with Tony Castaneda yesterday. He was shocked to hear of your cancer. He said that he will add you and Chris to his prayers. Later in the afternoon, he texted me to say that he had driven out of a isolated plateau in the New Mexico desert and played this Native American flute in your honor - lifting you up to The Great Creator in prayer.

    Jenny's family went to PML this weekend. They had a great time - lake and soft serve ice cream both days. My Mom was in her element as you know.

    You, Chris and your family remain in my thoughts and prayers. I love you!!! XOXOXOXO

    Love, Julie Hunt