I’m sitting here now, in New York waiting to take off. Bratty screaming kid who won’t put his seatbelt on and keeps standing up. Clearly the Parents of the Year are on board. Amazed they haven’t heard of a little Benadryl. Looking across the aisle at my broken hearted husband who’s sitting with Ethan. I’m with Max, who is so annoyed with these parents, who he thinks could give a shit whether their kid flies across the plane on takeoff. Looking out the window at my second favorite city, which I’ll be back in next week. This was an unexpected trip but hardly a vacation. Darren came up here a week ago when his mom got sick while visiting with a bout of pneumonia among other things. I came up two days later as things got progressively worse. I arrived on Thursday and by then Joan was already on a ventilator and mostly pretty out of it. The next morning we arrived at the hospital and Darren, his Dad and brothers had a horribly difficult decision to make. Since Joanie wasn’t getting any better and sadly wasn’t ever going to, they decided to remove the vent and let her go. She was in the ICU, and thankfully they allowed all nine of us to remain there with her while she slipped away. You know when they say someone died surrounded by their family? Well this was truly the case. We all surrounded her, each of us touching some part of her, hands, feet, head. She opened her eyes and though she couldn’t speak, she looked right at my father in law and had a whole conversation with him. Now I am no stranger to death. My father died twelve years ago and my 52 year old brother in law Dan, my sister’s husband, lost his life just three months ago. I however have never been present at the death of someone I love. More importantly the death of someone my husband loved so much. Watching this family, who I’ve been a part of for half my life, go through something so heart wrenching was one of the worst moments I’ve had in my adult life. On the flip-side, though, it was so special, and it bonded us more than we were, if that’s even possible. It’s something I will never forget, as long as I am lucky enough to be alive. Sounds crazy but it was one of those moments in life, that was tragic and beautiful all at the same time. In the days that followed, we had moments that were terrible. As we all agreed though, Joanie had a grand plan. We felt as she knew this was coming and waited until she came back to her beloved New York from Florida where they had recently moved to permanently. Personally I feel like she waited for me too, so that her Darren could have someone to lean on besides his dad and brothers. In the days following her death and funeral we sat shiva. Our best friends flew our boys up from Miami and they had amazing family and cousin time. She would’ve loved that as she really lived for her family. My sister in laws and I went through something that will bond us forever. I know, somewhere, Joanie was eating it all up. In life, she was funny, sweet, gorgeous and could be tough. In death she remains those things, along with still being the consummate mommy and caretaker she was born to be. Rest in peace Joanie.