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Laura, like Joanne, had a quiet calming warmth about her, a gentleness that sooths and comforts those around her.  From my earliest memories of times shared with Joanne, Laura and Joelle, Laura's gentle sweet and caring nature was extraordinary.  Shared meals followed by Laura's sweet piano music floating through the air; Laura's soft sweet voice singing Xmas carols and giggles as we rocked Joanne's new car over speed humps in Hartford's park filled with Christmas lit displays, Laura comforting my son Peter when his tummy hurt, Laura quietly climbing and wandering over the rocks as she filled a bucket with hundreds of periwinkles and then released them back into the sea, Laura bravely running into a chill early spring surf at Watch Hill, Laura, with Joelle and our daughter, Alex, in Joanne's living room turned sweatshop, filling hand sown fabric sacks with corn to make Xmas gifts for the nurses, aides and staff of Hartford Children's Hospital, Laura quietly laying in her bed writing the thank you notes we all received, each one written with thoughtfulness and genuine heartfelt appreciation, Laura's one woman PAC getting Hartford Hospital to designate a teen room, Red Cross blood drive and cancer awareness, writing a letter to the Courant about the goodness of the Catholic church, Laura, quietly watching television as I pretended to mark up some meaningless paper when in truth, I was just sitting there alone watching this sweet angelic child drift in and out of her slumber and silently thanking her for allowing me to be there.  

Laura, because I know that you can hear me, because I know you are looking after your mom and sister, please know that just because you have moved onto a better place where you will no longer suffer, don't think for a minute that you have left our hearts.  That will never happen.  You have and always will have a place, a special place, in our hearts.

Joanne, I want to thank you for bringing Laura into this world and into our lives.  She was a dear and precious gift, a gift we will never forget.  We all have such sweet memories of Laura. We will always treasure Laura and the moments we shared with her.  But please, please do not forget that we also love and treasure you and Joelle, and, like our love for Laura, this will never stop.

      Joanne, I just want you to know how much I treasure our friendship.  As you and Joelle start to piece together your life, I'm here and can be there in under five minutes. Take all the time you need and know that when you are ready, I'll still be here.



Thank you so much for sharing your story with me.  Although we only talked briefly about the Lourdes trip, I always included your daughter in my prayers.  Now we can pray to her and not for her right.  I wish you and  Joelle strength to get through this.  I know that it is hectic for the next few months and tends to be a difficult time when things start to quiet down.  Your daughter was blessed to have a family like yours.  We can all only hope that are final moments when we prepare to enter heaven are as beautiful as your daughters.   Love, Karen Last


Everything sounds so beautiful, just like Laura would have liked it. She touched so many people in her life, many she didn't even realize. My grandsons, Joseph & James here in Colorado , and Joshua back in Indiana already plan on doing Laura's Pennies from Heaven. I have a can  I have been putting pennies in, with no idea what I was going to do with  them, but now I do.
If Joelle wants, I will continue to send  her postcards from Colorado. Just let me know. She is pretty special in her own  right, too. You must be very proud of her.
Keep in touch. Bernie sends his thoughts too. Love, Barb


Dear Joanne,
Thank you for letting us, who are far away, be part of the ceremonies for Laura.  Through your description we could be there too. 
Love, Liana


Dear Joanne & Joelle,
I know you have both been through one of life's most incredible journeys.  You have all suffered for such a long time and there are no words to express how deeply sorry we are for your loss.  Laura was such a special person.  When Joelle was here with us at the end of Thanksgiving weekend, she noticed the newspaper clipping that we have always kept on our refrigerator.  It was the photo from the Catholic newspaper that showed the girls from St. Ann's receiving the Music Scholarship -Katie, Laura, Sara Rosati and Eileen Doyle.  It seems like just yesterday and at the same time, a hundred years ago.  Your Laura looked so lovely and I can't help but think back about the funny interview we sat through with the newspaper reporter. 
I was so glad to be at Laura's funeral service.  It was the most beautiful tribute that I've ever seen.  The speakers and the music touched me so deeply.  They all did such a wonderful job.  It was very hard for the kids who were singing but they wanted to do a good job for the Santiagos. Ezequiel was so filled with emotion - he wanted to make it so special and I think he succeeded.  It was something that I will never forget.
I know you will both be facing many difficult days ahead.  If there is anything that we can do, please call.  If Joelle feels ready to come back to choir, we'd love to have her.
Love to you both,


Thank you for your letter.  It was indeed a beautiful service.
I feel as you do, that Laura is still with us, and that she is now looking after you and Joelle and all of her friends.  As Laura told you many times, I am sure, she wants you and Joelle to go on and be happy.  Terribly difficult advice to heed, as only you and Joelle know, but I hope that you will remember Laura's fervent hope for your peace and happiness when the dark moments overcome you.
How blessed we were to know this young woman!
Wishing you comfort and love,


My dearest Joanne and Joelle:



Here is part of the notice I send to the Board of AFCC sharing with them who you were. I have not been able yet to write about Laura because I still cry with grief surrounded with joy, for now she is with Jesus.  She has been the bravest child I have even known, a contemporary St. Therese of Lisieux. Joelle is truly a Ruth, who served her family with such adult  action and faith.


 Dear Board

Along with my family, I have had the privilege visiting her and her family several times, and of being with her and her two daughters 5 days before Laura's passing.


Joanne was, and has been, a mother of great character, strength, sacrifice,  and endurance for these past 2 and 1/2 years holding onto her faith with grace through such sufferings.


She gave up her practice  to live with her daughter [since last April 2002] in a small hospital room, sleeping next to her most times only on a reclining chair, knowing the financial consequence. All the while, family and friends cared for her other daughter weekdays until Joelle, too, lived at the hospital on days off.


Dr. Santiago showed to those of us who had the grace filled opportunity to observe this family in action, a picture of saintly mothering. You would also have experienced Joanne as exemplifying the compassion and understanding Mary, our Mother of God. Her hospitality of accepting visitors, known and unknown, to their room was a Christian virtue lived out.


Her core was Christ, Mary, St Teresa, Padre Pio and many other of our community of saints. She continues to need our prayers.


All my prayers today and for the tomorrows.


Dr. Karen  Shields Wright

Spiritual Director


Association  for Catholic Chiropractors


  My thoughts and prayers are with you through this tough time.  The timing of this is odd as I am remembering Nikki's trip to a pain free life only one short year ago.  I have no doubt in my mind that Nikki was there every step of the way for Laura.  They are together now and will always be looking down on their loved ones.  Laura is an amazing young woman.  Strong, courageous, and WOW can she carry a tune!!!!!  I am sure that she is singing in a choir right now.  Laura-you will be missed by all who knew you.  I only met you twice, and you touched my heart.  Thank you all for being such wonderful role models.  Your strength and courage will never be forgotten.
"When God closes a door; somewhere he opens a window."

Love- Kaeley (Nikki's swim coach)


My dear friend.  There is so much to say, but since I am not thinking clearly, I will wait, and keep this short and sweet.  The services for Laura, last night and today, were beautiful, precious and so overwhelmingly sad.  My heart is so sad for you. But seeing our babies in such pain.....that is the worst of anything.           I know you are exhausted, and I hope you can simply rest just for a few days....I would love to spend some quality time with Joelle. (and you too!!).  We have a long road to travel......I have been on this new journey for a year now, I hope I can be a support for both of you.  Our angels are in God's paradise together now.  I think they were plotting for a while now...just like when girls want a sleepover, but just a bit bigger..... (Joelle made me smile when she asked if I could sleepover...I am honored:)   I will call you .....love Gail

I can't believe Laura is an angel ... I remember her as a newborn. Remember
the day in the Graham House in my office and you changed her diaper during
one of our committee meetings ...
It was so good hearing from you - Laurie and I have been praying that you
and Joelle were holding up this week. If there is anything we can do, please
don't think twice to contact us!!
Sending love and prayers,

Beth Donohue, D.C., M.S.           
Director, Accreditation and Planning
Chair, Public Education Committee
New York Chiropractic College

Dear Dr. Joanne:

On behalf of the entire college community, allow me to epress our profound
sympathy and sincere condolence on the loss of your daughter.  As Christian
people, we realize the eternal depths of the love of God are the ultimate,
but such truth does not assuage our loss here and now.  Please know that
your daughter will be remembered in the Eucharist on Wednesday mornings, and
we are assure that she is received into the arms of God's mercy, into the
blessed rest of everlasting peace, and into the glorious company of the
saints in light.

May the love of God be especially with you and all your family at this time,
and may His Presence give reneweed comfort and strength.


Edwin D. Follick, PhD, DTh, JD, DC
Dean & Chaplain
Cleveland Chiropractic College
Los Angeles Campus

May the Lord bless you and keep you;
May the Lord make His face to shine upon you, and be gracious unto you;
May the Lord lift up His countenance upon you  and grant you peace.
in Christian love


I just wanted to drop you a quick line to see how you are doing. I am praying for both you and Joelle that the good Lord gives you the strength to get you through the tough times. Thank you for the honor of being a pallbearer for Laura. It was an honor and privilege to have known Laura and I am a better person for it. It is amazing how much Laura taught me about life and faith in  the 20 months that she graced my life. Something that I could not do for myself in the 40 plus years I have been on the good Lord's earth.  I was going through my new lap top bag today at work and at the bottom of the bag was a shinny new penny. I am glad Laura decided to visit me today and fill me with a felling of peace and joy as only she could. As soon as you get settled please let us know when we could get together, we would love to have that play date we talked about at the funeral. Please keep in touch and do not hesitate to let me know if you need any help with anything. Say hi to Joelle and may God bless both of you.

Love you


Dear Joanne,

 I share your loss and feel your pain.  I lost my only daughter Julie to leukemia when she was 19.  These girls are special children sent here to teach us all about loving, caring and giving.  At the time of Julies’ death a friend shared the following poem with me.  I keep it with me always and would like to share it with you and your family now.




I’ll lend you for a little while a child of mine he said, for you to love the while she lives and mourn when she is dead.  It may six or seven years or twenty-two or three but will you, until I call her back, take care of her for me?  She’ll bring her charms to gladden you and should her stay be brief, you’ll have her lovely memories as solace for your grief.  I cannot promise she will stay since all from earth return, but there are lessons taught down there I want this child to learn.  I’ve looked this wide world over in search of teachers true and from the throngs that crowd life’s lane I have selected you.  Now will you give her all your love nor think the labor vain and hate me when I come to call to take her back again?  I fancy that I heard them say, Dear Lord, Thy will be done.  For all the joy this child will bring the risk of grief we’ll run, we’ll shelter her with tenderness, we’ll love her while we may and for the Happiness we’ve known forever grateful stay.  And should the angels call for her much sooner than we planned, we’ll brave the bitter grief that came and try to understand. 

I am thinking that Laura and Julie will probably be great friends in their new life.  May Laura’s love and memories sustain you all in the days to come. 

God Bless You


Dear Dr. Santiago,
The first time i met Laura was at her benefit concert last spring when she sang "There  You'll Be." Very few people have the power to move an entire audience to tears but she did it. i remember watching her from backstage and wondering where she found the courage to fight cancer and sing that song in tribute to a friend. You have heard a thousand times that Laura is an inspiration...but there is no other way for me to put it. She not only reminded me that God is always there no matter what happens and no matter how difficult He is to understand. She reminded me that life is always worth fighting for even if it causes pain that i cant begin to imagine. Your whole family reminded me how far love can reach and that we should never be afraid to turn to our friends and family for support because that is what they are there for. There is absolutly no doubt in my mind that Laura is watching over you and Joelle - she truly was a gift from God. i have never known anyone to fight so hard and maintain such a positive and loving spirit. I was lucky to be able to present Laura with flowers at the end of the concert on behalf of all the students. she came on stage and we held hands and she was literally glowing. sometimes, when people die, we tend to put them on pedestals but there cannot be enough said about laura. i will continue to pray for your family as you learn to live life without laura's physical presence. she won't be forgotten.

Thank you for making sure that I know where you are.  I went to Laura's rosary mass.  It was beautiful.  These young people have lost a friend and . . . .a teacher.  I only can think about her mother, sister and the whole family but of course, here were her friends in grief as well.  And Laura's last day in Avon.  There was a reason it was so glorious and the pictures came out so well.  And Marie finished the scrap book for you and Joelle.  I am here.  Call me.  I will come by when things slow down but sooner if you call. Hugs.  Leslie

Dear Joanne and Joelle,
       At least you had the holidays together one last time and that Laura was able to help you with the transition you were all making. She is no longer in any pain and I am sure she is still watching over you both.
       Bernie sends his condolences also. A donation to the Cancer fund is being made in Laura's name.
       Faith Hill! Bet that put a smile on everyone's face!
       Still thinking of you two and keeping you in my prayers. Love, Barb

Dear Joanne,
I will see you tomorrow.  Please call if you want.  The fight had to be fought because it was handed to you all and there was no giving up or giving in.  You did what every good mother should and she did what a strong daughter could and by giving her permission to go ahead without you is the last kind thing and strong thing you did for her.  It was probably also the most difficult and at least I think of it thay way, quite often. 
Please know that I admire your and both your daughters' courage and spirit.  Luckily, very few people have been on such a journey in their lives.  Yet they do not know the depth and knowledge and love that their children possess, and they do not have the closeness that you were able to share, not even if they all live 100 years.  Hold that dear.  
I love you all and if you need me, call.
Dear Joanne and Joelle.
how wonderful that the value of a life is not measured by the length of days but by the love that it brings into the world.
In Laura's 15 years she accomplished more that most people could accomplish in many lifetimes. And you both were her team...enabling her at every turn to keep working on what she wanted most to do....to spread that amazing love that she held in her heart out into the world.
At this time of Epiphany, we think so much about those who followed the Star.  It  seemed that that was Laura's mission....she saw the brightness of the Star and knew that it would lead her to the source of all Love.
How fitting then, that her journey would end at this time...as if she was walking all the way with the Wise Men...and now beholds the tender Child....the Mighty God, the Prince of Peace.  How joyful to think of how He  now holds her so close...where no harm or pain can ever again touch her.
Joelle, when I was almost 10 years old I lost my 15 year old brother....he was my hero, my friend, my protector.  He was such a bright light in my life. He died very suddently in an accident. We didn't even have a warning that his life might end. It was so hard.  I wanted him back so badly. After many tears and some time of healing I realized that God  did let him stay very close to me.  I used to pray to him to help me...I still do....and he takes my prayers to God and they are always answered in the way that God knows is best for me. Because I understand your pain I want you to know how very much I will be praying for you .  You are a very special sister....the very, very best.  Laura will always be close to you and remember how good you have been to her...and now she will be there to help you. To be close to her, always stay close to God...because she is probably sitting right on His lap.  She'll say...Look, Loving Father, there's Joelle, and she needs our help.  Let's GO!!
Joanne and Joelle....may God impart our feelings of sorrow to you at this time...there are not words to express that.  May the countless prayers that rise to heaven carry you to a place of peace and comfort and healing.
 .                                            Sincerely.
                                         Irene and Paul Muhs
                                         (the Bangs connection)  

Joanne and Joelle:
My deepest sympathies are with you at this time.
Love, Beth

Dear Joanne and Joelle,

I am so very sorry to hear that Laura has passed away. I hope it brings you some comfort to know that in her short life she has touched so many and she has been a true inspiration for all of us.

Her strength and love will be a constant reminder for us all to try harder.

Please let me know if there is anything we can do.

Love, Susan Hacking

Dearest Joanne -
We are so sorry to hear of Laura's passing. Your great, brave, strong girl!  But look where she came from, who she touched and will forever inspire. She is with you, not in pain any longer, but in great spirit. 
We love you, love Joelle, and love Laura. And we always will! 

Dear Joanne,
I was so sad to hear the announcement at church yesterday, about Laura. 
What a long journey. 
Please know that you and Joelle are close in thought and prayer at this
difficult time.
Theresa Bachhuber
(Parish Nurse at St. Anns)

Dear Jo, I just hung up the phone with you and I can still hear Laura's beautiful voice singing that song...thanks for sharing it and thanks for having such special daughters....I don't know when you will get this e-mail, but I had to just let you know how very much I love you and how incredible you are...I will keep in touch without trying to be a burden....Love always, ME

Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family at this difficult time. Joanne, I hope that you and Joelle have all the love and support you need to grieve and heal for as long as needed. Laura has been and continues to be in our hearts. I hope for peace for all of you. Love..........Barbara, Dan, Danielle, and Angel Michelle.

Dear Jo, I feel totally lame...besides sitting at the computer and crying for however long I truly didn't know what to write...condolenses and words seem so miniscule compared to what you have all been through, as always, forgive me for being so inept and pathetic at times like these...I truly feel paralyzed at what I should say or do other than I pray you know how much you, Laura and Joelle mean to us...it is still pretty early there so I don't want to intrude...I will call the house later, but if you don't want to talk to anyone yet I totally understand...I will continue to pray and send you love every minute of every day and I will speak to you soon....Love always, ME

You whose hands have healed so many - I wish there were some way to heal your broken heart.  May God be with you and I hope you find some sense of peace.  You fought for Laura as hard as she did to live.  I am so sorry. 
Love and prayers


Ms Santiago and Joelle
       We are saddened to hear of the latest news.  But we personally know that nothing in life happens for no reason, as our son is battling Leukemia.  May you only lean on God during this time and beyond for only He could comfort, strengthen and give you peace.  Be assured that Laura is with the Lord, in no more pain and one day we will all meet together.  What a wonderful promise we have through our God.
Sergey, Mariam, Daniel and Andrew Rossoshanskiy

Dear Joanne,
My name is Chris and my cousin is Donna Squillaro.  She has sent me prayer requests and given me periodic updates on Laura.  Although I didn't know her, I can tell what an amazing person she was by reading others' letters.  I'm very sorry for the unimaginable void you must be feeling at this time.  I have 3 daughters and, as someone else mentioned, the loss of a child is a mother's worst fear.  I lost my Mom to cancer 2 years ago and I can tell you that  a strong faith and knowing that she's watching me all the time sustains me.  I've no doubt that Laura will be yours and Joele's Guardian Angel.  I hope you can soon find some peace and that the happy memories will one day sustain you.  My thoughts and prayers are with you at this extremely difficult time.
Chris Glowatsky

Dear Family & Friends:  Our sweet dear Laura, passed away yesterday, January 4, 2003.  If you would like to visit the website and offer words to Joanne & Joelle it  is:  www.laurasurvivaljourney.com.  Thank you all for your prayers and thoughts for Laura and her family all through her illness.  I had the opportunity to spend New Year's Eve day with them along with ANthony and Alexa at MSKCC.   Inspite of what was looming over all of us, we had a touching, loving day together which will forever be in are hearts.  Again, I am so blessed  to have had Laura in my life if only for too short a time.  I thank God for sharing her, but so wish he didn't have to take her back so soon.  Please continue to pray, not for Laura but to Laura, so that she may look over her Mom and sister and help them through this terrible loss.  Love, Donna

Dear Dr. Santiago

I work at the Red Cross in Farmington and every day I would see your precious daughter's face on the posters.  Every day I thought of her and wondered about her.  I didn't know her, but I knew she would have brightened everybody's lives in our department if she were there. She seemed like such a terrific girl.

My niece, Brynn Petano, who lives over on Fox Den Road called me today to tell me Laura had passed away.  I told Brynn I remembered her sweet face from the poster at the Red Cross and how sorry I was. Brynn and her brother Terry went to the memorial service at St. Ann, and when they returned I told them about Laura's website, and to remember the Santiagos in their prayers. 

Our deepest sympathy goes out to your family. God bless you all. 



Maura Liegeot

Dear Joanne,

I am so sorry.  Thank you for letting me know.  My thoughts and prayers are with you.


Judy Tranchida

Dear Joanne,
       We are crying with you...and praying for you.  We know that Laura is resting in the arms of God with her loving grandparents close by....beautiful, forever happy and without any pain!  In that, we rejoice! 
         You and Joelle have been the most devoted family anyone could ever hope for.  You were blessed with Laura and Joelle...and they have truly been blessed with you.  We offer you what so many others have...our constant prayers and heartfelt desire to help in any way we can.  More than anything, we wish we could take away your family's pain...                     
                                    With all our love and prayers,
                                                       Mary and Ken B.


Joanne & Joelle,
I am very sorry to hear about Laura today. I cannot even comprehend your loss. My thoughts are w/you during this time.
Elaine Simmons from MT... Rev. 21:3 & 4.

You are in my prayers.  Your love for your daughters has inspired all of us who know you. Thank you for sharing this difficult time with us. May God Bless and be with you.

Hi Joanne,
We just read about Laura from your journal and mail from your friends.  We are very sorry. We wish we could be there to help you through this difficult time and help you in any way. We pray to God to give you strength, for you to feel Laura's presence with you at all times because she is there. We know words mean nothing now. But please know that all of us love you and pray for you and Joelle.
Lots and lots of love
Sushma, Ray and family

Joanne, Now you are left in pain.  If there is anything I can do, please do not hesitate to contact me at 860-228-8717.  My girls said that she is with her best friend now and if I know Nikki and Laura, I am sure they are romping it up.  I as so sorry for  you and Joelles loss.  May you find comfort in your faith, family, and friends.  All my best and my deepest sympathy, jenn the crazy tutor
My dear Doctor
Laura will be in my heart and in the heart of so many people around de world, forever.
She was a miracle.
I love you, Joelle and Laura

Dear Joanne,

Michelle called me Sat. night with the news.  I am soooo sorry and I
wish I could give you the biggest hug now and cry with you in person.  I
know from experience that she is all around you - you just cant see her.
She is on another plane.  I don't think that probably helps now but it
will.  Please let me know what the arraignments are, what I could do,
what you and Joelle need.  I have contacted the CCA to let the
membership know. We all love you.


my sincere condolences to you & your family. While my family & I do not know you or your family personally, After reading many enties from each of the journals and viewing many of the photos, I feel as if I do know each of you.  I am personally touched by the warmth, strength, unselfishness and caring nature. I'm sure you have deeply touched the hearts of many others as well. Love and peace to all of you, from Laurie & family, neighbors on Toll Gate Lane
I sadly read her obituary today.
I am so glad to have met her - she warmed my life in the short times I visited.
I add a poem which was written by a friend of mine shortly before he died of cancer.
With my love and sympathy to you and Joelle, and all your family.

     I AM FREE

        Don't grieve for me, for now I'm free,

        I am following the path God laid for me.

        I took his hand when I heard Him call,

        I turned my back and left it all.

        I could not stay another day,

        To laugh, to love, to work or play.

        Tasks left undone must stay that way.

        I found that peace at the close of the day.

        If my parting has left a void

        Then fill it with remembered joy,

        A friendship shared, a laugh, a kiss,

        Ah these things I too will miss.

        Be not burdened with time of sorrow,

        I wish for you the sunshine of tomorrow.

        My life's been full, I savored much,

        Good friends, good times, a loved one touched.

        Perhaps my time seemed all too brief,

        Don't lengthen it now with undue grief.

        Lift up your heart and share with me

        God wanted me now, He set me free.

Joanne and Joelle: 
We love you both  very much and are praying for you.  Laura  changed my life
forever - she made  me a better person, and I pray I can take what I learned
from her  and  help  someone  else.  Laura  is  very special  and will  live  in
my heart until I see  her  in heaven.

                Love You,      Peggy and Ted  Crew

Dear Joanne,

Simmy, the kids and I are so sorry to hear about your great loss. As a
family you put up a valiant struggle. It's tragic that it was one that
could not be won. I wish that I had known Laura better, but I do have
fond memories of her as a little child entertaining us a Aaron's Bar
Mitzvah. Both your girls are gems, and I'm sure over the years since
then they grew into lovely young girls.

May G-D give you the strength to get through these very trying times.
You have many friends who are here to give you love and support. Please
count us amongst them and remember if you need anything, we are here for
you and Joelle.

We will not be able to be with you on Wednesday, but our thoughts and
prayers are with you. I will call you soon.

G-d Bless you all.


Andrea, Simmy, Aaron and Rachel

Mrs. Santiago,
I am not too sure you remember me but I was a friend of Laura's.  I just wanted to tell you what an amazing woman I think you are.  I also wanted to tell you that I think G-D does everything for a reason.  I truly beleive that Laura is out of pain and peaceful.  Her attitude and beautiful voice have brought all of the people here in Avon happiness.  I believe that she is singing with the Angels in Heaven.  You are loved by so many.  Please stay strong.
Lindsay Fitzgerald

Dear Joanne and Joelle,     My heart goes out to you both as I learned from the paper this morning of Laura's passing.  I know that she is with you both now, out of pain and all of the many procedures that she so bravely endured.  Laura was a beautiful, brave person, so full of grace, who made herself so available to me when I visited.  She has touched my life in so many ways and I will never forget her or the strength and love that you both displayed when I would visit in the hospital. When my older brother died years ago, the note that meant the most to my mother spoke of the "beautific view" that my brother must then have from heaven.  It reassured my mother to think of such a beautiful image where he must be.  I pass this on to you in hopes that it will perhaps give you some comfort as well.  I am so very glad that you have such loving memories of your Christmas together.  And I know that Laura's life and the knowledge that she will always be with you both is her greatest gift.   Much love, Barbara Patterson     First Church of Christ Simsbury

Dear Joanne,
My name is Chelsea Murray from Wamogo Regional High School Choir. We found out about Laura's passing this morning and my heart went out to you and your family. My father and I and Mr.Dixon will be paying our respects tomorrow at the service to honor Laura's wonderful life and what she brought to us. It was a pleasure to sing in the concert for her and it really warms my heart to know that it helped her in some way or another. She and your family are in our thoughts and prayers always.
Sincerlly yours,
Chelsea Murray

Look for the rainbow
that gracious thing,
made up of tears and light.
—Samuel Taylor Coleridge

With loving thoughts of you and your beautiful daughters...

This world is not conclusion;
A sequel stands beyond,
Invisible, as music,
But positive, as sound.
—Emily Dickinson

With Love, Sharon

Dearest Joanne, and Joelle,
What a wonderful service this morning, and Joelle your memorial of Laura was outstanding.
I needed to document the experience both Angela and I had this morning at St. Anns.  As the music started for the Lord of the Dance song I looked to the right and the windows were bright with sunshine.  I said to Angela, "Look the sun just came out!"  Immediately, we both smiled and knew it was Laura's presence.  Then it went away, when we walked out of church I looked up and saw an overcast sky once again.  I knew Laura was giving us all a sign this morning.  I asked Angela for confirmation and sure enough she did also see the bright sunlight when I did.
I so wanted to share this with you as soon as I could. 
So look for those quick warm breezes or bright stars in the evening, or times when you are forced to turn around felling someone is there. 
She will continue to come to you and show her presence, you just need patience and to be watchful.
Loving thoughts to you all.
Mary Moret

Hi Joanne,
I know you will not remember me but I am Nidia's sister-in-law and I just wanted to express my deep sympathy on the loss of your precious daughter.
Nidia kept me informed and I was very saddened when I heard the news.
I admire you as well as your Laura for the courage in dealing with this horrible ordeal and my prayers are with you and your family.
Stay strong!
Ines Cunha Barbosa

joanne -
just sending you our love -
today was beautiful but so hard. i cannot imagine how you survived it. you are surrounded with love.
we are here for you, but do not want to invade your privacy or time with your family. none of us could handle the wake, so we did not go. it was more than we could bear. forgive us, but know we prayed for you and yours that evening together.
i so wish there were words i could write that would help. i know none. i so wish i could have healed her. i so wish many things. i am sure you do to. from mother to mother, friend to friend, please know i send you all the love and light i can possible muster. you and joelle demonstrated courage and strength that matched laura's today. i find you both truly amazing and inspiring.
love, always, karen, jen & kimi

Dear Joanne:
My heart is breaking for you.  Life is so devastatingly unfair.  The
pictures at the funeral home of your beautiful girls  together - happy
and innocent-  underscored the magnitude of the loss.   I just wanted
to let you know that I'm thinking of you and that I respect you so much
for your strength.  Nobody could have been a better, more loving mom to
Laura.  You sacrificed so much and tried SO hard.  Before Mara got
cancer and we began to meet all the children with cancer at CCMC - and
their moms -  I had no idea that so much suffering and so much courage 
existed.   If you ever feel like talking or if I can help you in any
way,  just call me.  Lots of love,  Anne D. 

Joanne -

    Our thoughts and prayers are with you at this sad time - Laura fought soooo hard and tried to live, but God chooses the loveliest flowers for his garden and He needed Laura. We'll be in touch for the arrangements and will dig out from the 2 feet of snow we had last night.

God Bless You and Joelle.



Hi Joanne, words cannot express what my heart feels for you and your girls.  My faith tells me that things happen for reasons and that salvation is truly all we all live for.  If salvation is the goal for Laura what a fabulous lifetime of love, giving and sharing she has given us all.  Kids with cancer are amazing, especially those who are living all us mothers greatest fears.  the loss of a child.  Although I can not imagine the pain that you all feel, I can only echo what those around me say.  Love and life goes on.  To not feel breath and express both joy and sadness when looking back or forward would not be living.  The theme song from Titanic seems to echo the many things that others are saying.  We love you and I pray for peace and comfort in whatever form it takes, know that you are all loved and thought and prayed for daily, love the crazy tutor


Hi Joanne,

I was so glad to read on your website that you had a special Christmas with Laura and Joelle.  I thought of you, Laura, and Joelle often during the Holidays.  My thoughts and prayers are with you.

You have been so strong, and are an inspiration to so many of us. 

We spent Christmas in Pennsylvania with our family.  It was nice to have the time with them.  When we came back, I checked your website to see how Laura was doing.  She is such a special person. 

Please try to keep me updated, if you can.  It must be exhausting for you now.  I feel that Laura has a special angel watching over her, and you, too. 


Judy Tranchida   


Dear Mrs. Santiago,
       I just heard the news today about Laura.  I am so very sorry.  I didn't really know Laura that much but I was in the arioso choir with her in middle school.  She had the greatest spirit.  She also had the greatest smile.  Just because she died doesn't mean she doesn't live on in your heart   She will be in everyone's hearts.  She will be missed.  Again I am so sorry for the loss you have suffered.  She is no longer in any pain.  As Mrs. Pruett said she really is a miracle.

Ryan Appold


my prayers are with you :-)
god bless


      .*`  ,  `*. 
     *. Laura .*
If you were with me tonight.
I'd sing to you just one more time.
A song for a heart so big,
God wouldn't let it live.
May angels lead you in.
Hear you me my friends.
On sleepless roads,
The sleepless go.
May angels lead you in.
Mrs. Santiago,
I'm a friend of Billy Powers and he's kept me updated on Laura's condition..although I didn't know Laura personally, we were moved by her story. My prayers are with you through this hard time. <3



There must be nothing worse than to see your child in pain and to know that there is nothing you can do to make things better. I believe that Laura is in a better place, may she rest in peace.

Lori W.

Dear Joanne,   I have been having an extremely hard time writing to you.  I feel like everything I try to say just doesn't come out right.  I am so grateful that your Christmas was together..... when it comes right down to it, that is the only thing that is important, is being together and knowing that your love for each other are the strongest bonds of all.  I have learned that Love doesn't end here.  It reaches across heaven and earth....it cannot and does not end.  Laura and Nikki know that.  The love Nikki and I have for each other sustains me.  If Laura's body gets too tired, and goes to be with God, then her spirit will be free to be in her mommy's heart,  and her sisters.....and everywhere she chooses to be.  But for now, we will still pray to God for that miracle......I am smiling at your beautiful dream and I pray for all of you.  We will be going to a mass for Nikki tomorrow evening.  Father Michael has Laura in our prayers at every mass.  Laura is so loved.  Please kiss her for me and tell her how much we love her and reassure her that we will always be here for all of you.  Love...Gail


Hi all.  I just came home from a trip to see family in PA.  I was glad to hear that Laura was still fighting and that she was still here with us.  How wonderful that Faith Hill contacted her.  Absolutely a dream come true for Laura.  As always, I am praying and thinking of you all and hoping whatever will be will be.  My Christmas gift came true, you all got to be together.  much love, the crazy tutor

Dearest Joanne and girls,
   How wonderful it was to read your entry...to know you are together and that you are managing to, as is characteristic of the Santiago women, be able to spin some gold out of hay. I always hold my breath as I check the site several times per day, but somehow in your magical way, you managed to bring a sense of peace and calm to the reader...perhaps the because you sense that we wish we could do the same for you. Laura and Joelle can be so very proud of you as you
are so very generous, even in this time of uncertainty, as you share news of your holiday and the girls. I know many of us feel blessed to know you all, but surely you must know how lucky WE are to have known YOUR kindness, courage and generosity in our past and future lifetimes. I am reminded of the Scriptures (which my daughters will tell you is not likely for me to do:-)where God tells us many times that life is short, like a vapor and we cannot count on what will happen in the days ahead. "How do you know what will happen tomorrow? For your life is like the morning fog-it's here a little while and then it's gone, "says James 4:14 . I know we cannot control our circumstances, change the past or make the fast-moving life go slower, but we can decide our attitude, as you so clearly have. We can see life as a gift no matter what our problems or challenges, and live it to the fullest. And we can chose not to miss out on joy TODAY, and not put happiness off until everything is fixed, for when is it truly ever fixed? I think what I'm saying now Joanne is that you have made me understand the saying "THIS is the day the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it." only I am adding...no matter what, no matter how hard it is, work with it...it's what we have, make the most of it. You have set the example, as you find a special way to make the "joy"...no matter how difficult...you have once again inspired a lot of people who hold a lot of love and who pray endlessly for THE miracle.
  Well, I think I've rambled enough...some things never change (LOL) and we continue to hold you and Laura and Joelle close to our hearts and deep in our sweetest dreams of peace and are here for you.
Love ya,


This note is to let you know that I have received your special intentions and will remember them in my daily Masses and my prayers. In addition, they will be placed at the foot of the Pilgrim Statue of Our Lady of Fatima in Her Chapel here at the Fatima Center.

Prayers are offered several times each day for the intentions of all Our Lady's friends and benefactors. Please let us know if you have other intentions for which you need special prayer.

The faith and prayers of people like you are the source of great strength for me and for all Our Lady's workers. I hope that you will pray for us as we work to bring Her full Fatima Message to all Catholics and others of good will.

I urge you to remember that God's Mother asked all of us at Fatima to pray Her Rosary each and every day. The Rosary, Brown Scapular and the Five First Saturdays are powerful weapons as we work for the triumph of Her Immaculate Heart.

May God bless you and may Our Lady keep and protect you and yours today and always.



Happy New Year.   May this year not be a terrible struggle and free of hospitals and pain.  Joanne, We are thinking of you.  We were with the Amazing Giampolo;s last night to celebrate Nikki's entry into a pain free world.  IT was a great mass and we focused on thoughts of both Nikki, Michelle and of course prayers for a miracle for Laura.  Take Care, love the crazy tutor,.   Hi, Doctor This is a little note to say that I am thinking about you and Laura and Joelle. Me and my family in Venezuela had a thought for you for this New Year. We all are praying for the miracle and have faith. Please receive a hug and a kiss and remember we love you. Con mucho amor Jolie


Hi Joanne, I'm so glad you all had a nice Christmas together.  Wow!  That was nice that Faith Hill called!  You are always in our thoughts. Love, Mary, Anthony, and Evan  


Dearest Joanne,

Thank you for letting us know how Laura, you and Joelle are doing and for sharing your moments.  Laura, Joelle and you are in our hearts, thoughts and prayers always.

With All Our Love,





Dear Joanne, Laura and Joelle,  You all have been utmost on my mind and the minds of our congregation all during this Christmas season.  How joyful to have spent such a loving Christmas together.  Joanne, your letters have been painful, yes, and yet so beautiful.  Laura is indeed incredible in her strength and grace and wisdom.  And, Joelle's beautiful words about what this Christmas meant to her.  Please know that you all continue to be in our loving and healing prayers. God Bless, Barb Patterson


Dearest Joanne,   Your voice was almost calm when I spoke with you - you have such Faith with a capital F.  But your pain is so evident.  Please know that all of us are trying to shoulder a morsel of your pain to ease your ache.  Let us do whatever we can to help in any imaginable way possible.   Our prayers, our hopes continue.   We pray that our wishes are what the Lord plans for your and your two precious young ladies.    May you continue to feel the love and support of your innumerable friends.   My thoughts and prayers will continue for Laura, but also for you, who have endured so much.   I surround you three with hugs.   Love, Paula


We were in Maine for the New Year but were sending thoughts and prayers your way just the same. We checked Laura's website the minute we got home and we were very happy to hear you had a peaceful Christmas together.
We continue to hope for a miracle.
Bless you all!
The Custers


 Joanne,   I am continuing to pray for you, Joelle and Laura. How wonderful that you were able to spend Christmas together.  It will always be a very special Christmas.  Faith Hill calling is just amazing.  It just proves how many special people there are in this world.  May God bless and be with you.  Much love, Laurie


you make life what it should full of love.  as it is the most difficult time for your family my prays are with you and i do pray that there is a miracle for Laura.

with warm affection,
stacey simmons
robin salerno sister in law.


Dear Joanne,
Your daughter is one very special young lady. I should really make that plural (daughters), because I am really speaking about the both of them.  It sounds like your Christmas was an incredible gift of love from one to another in your family.> I, too, believe that you have experienced many miracles on this journey, and because of your faith in God and your prayers, they keep coming. You may be far away in miles, but you are near in my heart. Give my best to Laura and Joelle and please let them know I am thinking about them. May God continue to give you the strength that you need to cope with all that is happening. Love, Jane Ellen


Still praying for that miracle, don't write back Joann--just hold your baby close for me.  We love you guys, our church prays every mass for Laura as well.     much much love, the Tates


Dear Joanne,   I read your updates and my heart is so heavy.  What can I say?  I can't imagine the anquish that you are going through!  Please know that we are praying for you, Laura and Joelle many, many times throughout the day and night....prayers of love and comfort and peace for each of you.....and a Miracle for Laura!!   Love, Linda, Patrick, Kate, Mary Rita and Caroline McKenna


Dear Joanne, Laura and Joelle,

Thank you for keeping us posted. We are so inspired by the love and spirit of your wonderful family and your incredible journey. Our thoughts and prayers are with you as you take each step.  May you continue to walk in His light. 

With love, The Vallones

Sharon A. Vallone, DC, DICCP
Hartford/Tolland, CT
Kentuckiana Children's Center - Louisville, KY

  .............."What a caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly.".......


dearest Joanne -
just sending you love and light for you and your special family............many good wishes and love for  the new year honey........may it bring you peace. love  and happiness.
we love you so much.
kisses to all,
always, karen, jenny, kimi, & liana


As always, my prayers are with you.

There is hope since miracles do happen.

With love.



Thank you for letting me know.....I've been thinking of all of you so much lately, but didn't want to intrude on what, I imagine, was a bitter-sweet Christmas.  Laura is amazing, and you're right.....she'll do things in her time, in her way, when she knows that you and Joelle will be okay.  Love to all of you.....


Dear Joanne,

You sound so strong, even though I know that your heart must be breaking.  Please know that Nicole and Doug and Brian and I talk and pray for all of you each day.  As a mother of a child with cancer, my heart breaks for you.  I pray constantly for your miracle.  Keep the faith.


Dear Joanne, Laura, & Joelle,
       I have been checking the website daily and lately holding my breath because I hadn't seen or heard anything.  My heart goes out to you for all you have to endure whether it be your constant vigil or handling the constant pain.  The prayers have not ended, yet rather have grown stronger with Christmas.  Laura, you are a remarkable young woman.  Your faith and perseverance in well beyond your years.  Most people two and three times you age can't even compare to your strength and love of God.  I truly admire you (not what you are having to go through, but who and what you are).  Joanne and Joelle, both of you are also incredible women.  I pray that God's will be done, yet in another breath ask for a miracle.  If a miracle happens we would all be very grateful.  If there is anything at all that I can do for you, please feel free to call on me.  Love you all!!!
May God wrap his arms around you with love and peace.
Love, Patti Gould


Joanne,   Thank you so much for the update on Laura.  I have been checking the site several times a day for an update since the 18th.  I was praying that you'd get to spend a peaceful Christmas with your girls and it looks like God made that possible from the sounds of your e-mail.  I hope you're taking care of yourself.  My thoughts and prayers are with you more than you know.   Love,  Maureen Ericksen





Joanne, through this difficult time, remember that we are always there for you.  Spiritually we know that there are reasons for things to happen.  As we pray for a miracle the new year approaches. We are wishing you extra special wishes for the year to come..  Hopefully you can see the ball dropping from Laura's window.  Take comfort in knowing that a whole bunch of people are with you and thinking of you.  love the crazy tutor


Joanne -  just wanted you all to know we are thinking of you.  Your last email sounded very peaceful and we pray that peace stays with the three of you.

As always, we're here whenever you need anything.

All our love - Ketchiffs


happy new year to you! I am so happy to hear that you had a peaceful Christmas with your family! I will continue to pray for Laura! Love, Martha Wassall


Dear Jo, Happy New Year from Down Under....I just got back online after some "technical difficulties" and you have all been in my thoughts and prayers nonstop.. I haven't called because I want to respect your privacy and time together (and besides I didn't want Faith Hill to get a busy signal...pretty cool stuff!!)....I am hoping that 2003 brings the special miracle that we are all waiting for...I continue to pray for all of you to have health, happiness, peace and the best of everything now and forever....Big hugs....Love always, ME


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