Eight Weeks with Jackie

A couple of days after Jackie had her second surgery at Sloan-Kettering, which was only six days after her first, her neurosurgeon, Cameron Brennan, scheduled an MRI to make certain everything was the way it should be. As two technicians were trying their hardest to make her comfortable for the MRI, Jackie looked up at one of them, named Jason, and asked, “What’s this hospital’s policy on cursing?” Jason exclaimed, “We approve!!!!!!!” Several minutes later, Jackie asked, “Is there a ceiling on the number of times I can say the ‘F’ word?” Jason replied, “You can say it as many times as you like. My girlfriend uses that word at least 50 times whenever I’m home at night!!!” The bantering went on and on — until Jackie finally found a comfortable position for herself. That was our Jackie — spunky, witty, brave and full of life. Even when she was feeling her worst, she never lost her sense of humor, charm and ability to make people smile and laugh.

Jackie’s eight weeks, from the time she got diagnosed to the time she passed away, were full of victories and disappointments. During that time, she was always positive, alert and ready for the next challenge. She never really complained and she never really lost hope. She talked about her dreams of the future and was always extremely sweet and appreciative of whatever help she received. She was very happy with the life she had — and she wanted more. Her greatest wish was to move to NJ and buy a house near her brother Joe so she and her niece Kyra could grow a rose garden and spend a lot of time together. When she realized it might not happen, that was the one time — and the only time — I heard Jackie complain.

I observed Jackie the entire eight weeks. I never saw her lose her cool and I grew to love and admire her more and more each day. I learned more about Jackie in those eight weeks than I did in the 30 years I knew her. I learned that even under the worst of circumstances, she was powerful, spirited, hysterically funny, tender, compassionate, vulnerable and loving. While I feel fortunate to have known Jackie for as long as I did, I feel sad that after we became so close, she was taken away. And I feel even sadder that she could not fulfill her dream with her brother and niece.

It’s not surprising so many people have written about how unhappy they are that they didn’t have more time to spend with Jackie. How could there ever be enough time with someone so dazzling, gifted, life-loving and passionate, who sparkled each and every day?

The world will never be the same without our precious, darling Jackie, who was more special and lovable…. than words can ever say.

Sylvia Laniado
Jackie’s friend