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7/28/03

I had a dream on sat night and guess who was in it I don't remember what the dream was about but all of a sudden I saw Laura she was smiling like I have never seen her before her hair was long to her shoulders and she had a red little top with shorts. I don't know what this means but I felt so good when i woke knowing that she is so happy pain free it reminded me of the day she came back from surgery and she heard my voice and she extended her arms and hugged me so tight. she also had on my favorite color red so you see she is watching over us. I'm so sorry to hear about your lost I hope this dream will cheer you up say hi Joelle.
                                             talk to you soon love lu.


7/24/03
Joann

you don't know me but I have been reading about your daughter Laura and I
was very saddened to hear she had passed on. I like you am also a mom and I
can't even imagine life without my little one's. For a while I had been
trying to get the courage to write you this note and I finally decided to.
Just want you to know that I keep you and your daughter Joelle in my
prayers, as I don't know what it feels like to loose a child or a sister I
did loose my mom 4 yrs ago to Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and it was devastating.
I still grieve my mom, some days more than others. The little story about
the pennies from heaven has helped me a whole lot because I always find
pennies and I now think it's my mom giving me a sign that she's with me.

I will continue to pray for you and Joelle. I know it's a tough thing to
have to go through. Especially near the holidays and birthdays it's when it
gets really tough. As time goes on things will get better but you will miss
her forever , the tears will come and go and it's ok. I still ache for my
mom and there are times I wish she was here with me. I hope you don't mind
me writing you this email.

I leave you with this little prayer that was sent to me when I lost my mom.

  When tomorrow starts without me
> > And I'm not there to see
> > If the sun should rise and find your eyes
> > All filled with tears for me.
> > I wish so much you wouldn't cry
> > The way you did today.
> > While thinking of the many things
> > We didn't get to say.
> > I know how much you love me
> > As much as I love you.
> > And each time that you think of me
> > I know you'll miss me too
> > But when tomorrow starts without me
> > Please try to understand
> > That an angel came and called my name
> > And took me by the hand
> > And said my place was ready
> > In heaven far above
> > And that I'd have to leave behind
> > All those I dearly love
> > But when I walked through heaven's gates
> > I felt so much at home
> > When God looked down and smiled at me
> > >From His great golden throne
> > He said "This is eternity
> > And all I've promised you"
> > Today for life on earth is past
> > But here it starts anew
> > I promise no tomorrow
> > For today will always last
> > And since each day's the same way
> > There's no longing for the past
> > So when tomorrow starts without me
> > Don't think we're far apart
> > For every time you think of me
> > I'm right here in your heart


7/24/03
Joann

I'll be watching for the pennies, and yes you make sense. I bet she and my mom met and I guarantee you it was Laura who told my mom all about the pennies. That's why I find them all the time, people think I'm crazy but I believe my mom is with me every single day of my life. My mom was a smoker and sometimes I smell the smoke around me at home and that's when I'm certain she's visiting me that certain day. Something amazing happened at my daughters quinceanero, right at the church my daughter said she could see my mom smiling down at her, It was raining that day and as we were walking out of church a bright sun ray came right thru the church doors. Even the priest was amazed at the brightness of the sun. After my daughter walked to the limo it started to pour. I believe in miracles and I know that on that very day my mom was with us. So Joanne Laura is with you and Joelle everyday. Take care and believe me you now have 3 angels watching over you and Joelle.  Mari...:) 

7/16/03
Joanne,
You wrote so beautifully. I just want to say that our prayers are with you and Joelle to make you strong and to let you always feel the presence of Laura.
God Bless all of you!
lots of love,
Sushma


7/16/03

Hi Joanne...
A penny on my dryer downstairs... 

I came upstairs, checked my email and decided to clean up the magazines Bill dropped on the floor behind my computer chair.  Apparently I would have been further distracted and maybe even out the door, for underneath them all was ... another penny...  Laura is insisting ... haha

I was glad to get your update the other day.  It means so much to me that you would share your thoughts knowing me and others will hold them ever so gently to our hearts and keep you and your thoughts in our prayers.  That is such an honor. Thank you.

I cannot say I can imagine what you are experiencing.  I certainly cannot know about your loss but I do know about your heart ... it is warm and caring, sweet and devoted.  I am not writing this to tell you what you "should" do for yourself.  You know better than anyone what you need, what you want, and what you desire.  I am here to say I cannot be someone to cheer you on or kiss and make the situation better, but I am someone who is willing to listen ... willing to give you a shoulder to lean on, willing to hold your hand wherever you find yourself and warmly embrace you, unconditionally giving back the Love you so easily give to everyone you encounter.  This has always been one of your gifts to us.

I cannot say time will heal these wounds...  I do not believe these losses are ever filled by someone or something else.  Each individual I have lost over the years still holds a very special place in my heart ... and they always will.  That is what makes them special to me. 

I am not going to say the tears will stop ... that has not been my experience either.  I can say that I have more moments of joyful tears rather than tears of sorrow for the loss and emptiness regarding the void no one else can see or feel.  It wasn't time that did that for me.  It was my willingness to move forward and process my grief by keeping my heart open and remembering the things I shared and loved with that special someone ... by opening my heart to the joy we shared I remembered the Love.  I understand that smells, sounds, places, people and things can bring you  back to these moments of intense emotional interaction.  Your loss is still so new ... you may feel sadness or hurt even in the Love.  I will say to you, Laura's memory is a joyful one.  We both know Laura is not lost ... she sees more clearly than any of us can imagine, but now that I mention it, she always did.   -smile-  

Well, there is the phone, I must take this call so I will bring this to a close.  Catch you later.

Know I am here and I love you soul-sister. 
All my best, Judi

ps. my congratulations to Mona. What wonderful news.  Hugs to all.


7/14/03
As always you are in my thoughts, heart, and prayers.  Grieving is handled by everyone differently. You have to let your body let go and ride the feelings as painful and as sad as they are.  You need to do what your mind and body tell you.  Others will understand and if they do not then they have problems.  love jenn


 7/13/03

Dear Mrs. Santiago,                      I am deeply saddened by what has happened in your life.  Although I don't know you or your daughter it still touched me very much.  I am friends with a lot of kids in Avon and to see them go through this it hurt me and I thought I had to say something.  I would have loved to be there to comfort you during hard times but I thought you would not want a total stranger there.  I am very glad though to see that you and Joelle are getting through this and are happy.  I'm sure there are still those days like I had when my grandmother died.  and incase you are wondering who my friends in Avon are that might have known Laura or even know Joelle is Allie Polecel (I know i am spelling it wrong but hopefully you get the jist)  Anyway I just thought I would send my condolences and I hope this does not bring you to think about Laura but to think about how many people she has touched.                                                                            With Love,                                                                                 Daniel Mitchell

6/23/03

Joanne,  Hi, hope all is well.  Sorry I haven't called, but having a hard time coming up with words.  It sounds as if you and Joelle are doing well.  I'm sure Laura would be very proud of you both.  I do wish I had been able to spend more time with her growing up.  She really was a remarkable person, and touched so many peoples lives.   I spoke to Phyllis last week and mentioned to her that maybe if the sun ever comes out,  you and Joelle could come down the shore for the weekend and we could spend some time together at the beach.  Hope it can work for you........   Let us know it there is a time that is good for you.   Love you, Toni

6/9/03
Many thanks to all participants in the American Cancer Society "Relay for Life" Walkathon.
To date, the Avon / Canton Rotary has done an extraordinary job of raising nearly $5,800 from 65% of our members, plus our club treasury has added $1,600 for a total to date of $7,400.
We have been given an extra week by the ACS to get in any additional donations and we are hoping to make the total number exceed $8,000. Please bring any additional
collections to this Friday's meeting, envelope or not - all donations are gladly accepted.
Remember - Think of Laura.
Remember - Your children and grandchildren's future.
Remember - All of those that can beat cancer now.

Thanks, Don


6/5/03
Hi Joanne I so look forward to your updates. Thank you so much. I would love to see a list of events, scholarships, fundraisers, dedications, etc our Laura is responsible for. It would go on and on. It is awesome how much one person (let alone one YOUNG GIRL) can make a difference!!! She lives in many, many hearts and minds.   

I hope you are as well as can be. My company and my church are participating in 'Laura's Pennies...' and I was wondering, what are people using for a write up? Is there a letter someone has already created that has become the standard that we are to affix to our collection jars? Is there a process in place for once we have our 1st $100 ready? Can you forward this to your best 'Pennies' person?

Love you! Hope to get to see you & Joelle!
Judy (Osterby girls are all ok)


6/4/03

Dear Joanne

I pray to God to ease your pain and suffering .here I sit thinking how can I help what can I do to ease your pain ...here at the computer that I don't know how to work. the last message said that Joelle is ill please take  care of her. I am hoping that you and Joelle can come to Arkansas for a visit and if not I may try to come to Avon later in the summer don't know what else to say, will stay by the computer so that I can close to Laura & Joelle...

love Jeff



 

6/3/03

I heard we had made over three hundred dollars. I hope Joelle feels better soon. She looks so much like Laura, she will grow into a beautiful young lady. I send my best

-Courtney Kleiner


6/3/03
Dear Joanne:
I am always so glad to read your updates, although they often bring a tear to my eyes!  It sounds like you have been staying busy.  How is Joelle?  I hope she's feeling better....  Mara had a weird sinus thing with fever as well.  So many odd bugs seem to be going around.  How cool that the Zamborinos came by to plant a tree.  Mara likes talking with Aaron also; it's nice for her to see someone who fought cancer ahead of her doing so well.  I'm always struck in your notes by how supportive your community
seems to be!  Of course, Laura inspired a lot of devotion and admiration, and so do you.  Lots of love, hugs and prayers going your way. Keep in touch!  - Anne


6/1/03

Dear Avon Public Schools Community:

Earlier this year, Avon High School lost a young, talented member of its community to cancer. Her family, friends, and teachers miss her greatly. Laura Santiago holds a tremendous presence within Avon; the love in her heart and her potential will not be forgotten; in fact, many are seeking ways to honor and remember Laura, so her spirit lives.

As a means to help honor Laura's life, the Freshman Class has been working closely with Dr. Santiago, Laura's mother, to create the Laura Santiago Memorial Purple Scholarship. The criteria for winning the scholarship are yet to be determined; ultimately, the criteria will reflect Laura's interests, academic passions and pursuits. Our goal is to raise enough funds to establish the Purple Scholarship as a memorial trust, so that it can become an award to be presented annually to a graduating senior, starting this June at graduation.

Laura's favorite color is purple. Purple is also the color of remembrance. Over the next month, the Freshman Class will be seeking donations, offering purple ribbons to individuals and organizations that donate $1.00 or more. Similar to the philosophy of "The Purple Ribbon Campaign: Putting Cancer in its Place," you can wear your purple ribbon to let others know that you are a part of a community which has been affected by cancer. When people ask you about the ribbon, you can take a moment and speak about Laura.

The Freshman Class has decided to donate $200.00 towards the fund. We encourage other students, clubs, and classes to also contribute. Please contact Mr. Shiers, the Freshman Class Advisor, if you are interested in helping with the success of this endeavor.

Thank You,

Emily Swords      Jamie Sherman      Colleen Olsen      Ellyn Creasey
Class President   Vice-President       Treasurer             Secretary
 


6/1/03

Joanne,
This is so beautiful! Just like you.
I did do my cancer relay for life last week and kept thinking of Laura. We also decided to make a quilt piece in her name. My niece made it for Laura. It will be sewn together with all others for this year to one beautiful quilt for this year.
Talk to you later.
Lots of love
Sushma


6/1/03

A Keeper

I grew up in the fifties with practical parents -- a mother, God love her, who washed aluminum foil after she cooked in it, then reused it. She was the original recycle queen, before they had a name for it...

A father who was happier getting old shoes fixed than buying new ones. Their best friends lived barely a wave away. I can see them now, Dad in trousers, tee shirt and a hat and Mom in a house dress, lawn mower in one hand, dishtowel in the other.

It was the time for fixing things -- a curtain rod, the kitchen radio, screen door, the oven door, the hem in a dress. Things we keep.


It was a way of life, and sometimes it made me crazy. All that re-fixing, reheating, renewing, I wanted just once to be wasteful. Waste meant affluence. Throwing things away meant you knew there'd always be more.

But then my mother died, and on that clear summer's night, in the warmth of the hospital room, I was struck with the pain of learning that sometimes there isn't any 'more.'


Sometimes, what we care about most gets all used up and goes away...never to return.

So...while we have it...it's best we love it.....and care for it.....and fix it when it's broken.....and heal it when it's sick.

This is true.....for marriage.....and old cars.....and children with bad report cards.....and dogs with bad hips.....and aging parents.....and grandparents.

We keep them because they are worth it, because we are worth it. Some things we keep. Like a best friend that moved away -- or -- a classmate we grew up with. There are just some things that make life important, like people we know who are special.....and so, we keep them close!

I received this from someone who thinks I am a 'keeper' so I've sent it to the people I think of in the same way. Now it's your turn to send this to those people that are "keepers" in your life.


5/28/03
Joanne
This is so beautiful. Laura is their angel in heaven and you and Joelle are angels on earth. God bless you both for encouraging us with your work.
Love
Karen


5/27/03
DEAR JOANNE & JOELLE: AS YOU ARE AWARE, ALEXA'S FRIEND AMANDA HUTZ, FROM CHERRY HILL, NJ RECEIVED HER BAT MITZVAH ON MARCH 22, 2003.  HER MITZVAH PROJECT, LAURA'S PENNIES FROM HEAVEN" WAS AN AWARENESS PROGRAM AND GOOD DEED RELATIVE TO LAURA, AND HER PROMISE TO JOELLE.  IT WAS AN AMAZING TRIBUTE TO LAURA AND JOELLE TO HAVE AMANDA PRESENT HERSELF AT THE BECK MIDDLE SCHOOL WITH JARS FOR THE CAUSE ON HER BIRTHDAY, MARCH 20TH.  SHE THEN HAD A FOUNTAIN ADORNED WITH ANGELS THAT SHE USED AS A WELL FOR GUESTS TO THROW THEIR PENNIES IN.  AMANDA SPOKE OF LAURA TO HER GUESTS AND CARDS WITH PICTURES OF LAURA AND SHE AND JOELLE'S STORY WERE DISTRIBUTED TO EACH GUEST. HER SONG WAS ALSO PLAYED I, AM HAPPY TO SAY THAT ON MAY 25, ALEXA, AMANDA AND HER MOM, SANDEE AND I, KNOCKED ON THE DOOR OF A FAMILY WHOSE SON, KEVIN, IS SUFFERING FROM A RARE BLOOD DISORDER (THE 27TH CASE EVER) WHEREBY HE HAS ANTIBODIES TO HIS PLATELETS, WBC, AND OTHER COMPONENTS.  KEVIN IS ONE OF 5 CHILDREN WITH AN OLDER BROTHER WHO DIED 5 YEARS AGO IN A MVA.  THE FAMILY KNOWS THAT AT THIS POINT THERE IS NO CURE, BUT PRAY FOR A MIRACLE EVERY DAY.  KEVIN IS 18 YEARS OLD, IS ON MEGA DOSES OF PREDNISONE AND TRANSFUSIONS.  THE FAMILY HAS WEATHERED TRAGEDY ON MANY LEVELS.  HOW SURPRISED AND SHOCKED THEY WERE WHEN AMANDA HANDED THEM AN ENVELOPE WITH THE PENNIES LETTER IN IT, A NOTE FROM AMANDA, THE CARDS SANDEE MADE ON LAURA, AND OF COURSE THE BRAND NEW, $100.00 bill.  AS SANDEE SAID AFTERWARDS, I FELT LIKE ED MCMAHON AND THE PRIZE PATROL.  THIS MOM AND SON WERE AT A LOSS FOR WORDS.  THE MOM GAVE MANY HUGS AND WORDS OF THANKS.  I SPOKE TO THEM OF LAURA, JOELLE AND YOU.  THEY ARE FOREVER GRATEFUL.  IT WAS GREAT TO BE ONE OF LAURA'S ANGELS.  THE FOUR OF US FELT JUST AS GOOD AS KEVIN AND HIS FAMILY.  I JUST WANTED TO SHARE THIS WITH YOU, THIS PAY IT FORWARD STORY.  YEP, YOUR LAURA, DOING HER THING, SPREADING THE LOVE AND GIVING THROUGH OTHERS IN HER OWN QUIET WAY.  WHAT ELSE IS NEW????  LOVE YOU, DONNA


5/14/03
Hi Joanne,  thanks for the note.  I know how hard Mother's Day must have
been for you.  It is  nice to know that you and Joelle did some special
things.  Congratulations to Joelle on her award.  That is awesome.  Hang in
there.  Love, Laurie


5/14/03

I am glad to read your message. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and Joelle each and every day.
Love, Andrea and Brian Keigan


5/13/03
Hi Joanne,
It is so good to read this as there isn't a day that goes by when I am sure many of us think of how you are both doing. Yesterday was especially one of those days and to hear from you makes one feel much better. I know it is tough and I know you two are doing great!
We love you very much and think of you all the time!
lots of love,
Sushma


5/12/03
 
Good morning, thinking of you on Mothers Day and knowing that a special place in your heart may be empty today especially.  May you go to Lauras place and dance the MOM dance.  Happy Mothers Day.  Love Jenn the crazy tutor


5/12/03

Hi Joanne,  
It was good to hear from you.   It sounds like your trip to Lourdes was cleansing.  I'm sure your Mom and Laura were by your side.
 
What wonderful news about Joelle's award, you must be very proud of her.

I'll call you soon.  
Nancy J.


5/12/03
Hi
       I am so glad to hear about your special gift.  The two of you definitely deserve it, and I can just picture how excited Joelle was.  How wonderful for it to happen when it did too.  You have been through so much.  I am thrilled for you. 
       I think Joelle is right about taking the convertible out.  We have had our top down several times, but it keeps getting too cold.  It is so much fun though.  I am so glad we have it.
       Keep your spirits up and think of happy memories.  I will continue to think of you as well.  Take care and keep in touch.  I know you have many people to talk to, but always remember that I am here.
Love,
Patti


5/12/03

       Thanks for sharing... I was wondering how your weekend went.  Even with your times of continued sadness, you are hugged by the thoughts and actions of others. 
Pay back is not such a bitch after all...  -smile-  

Congratulations to Joelle for a well-deserved award.  Laura will always be near you and sharing in your accomplishments and successes.  She must be so pleased for her, knowing Joelle deserves the recognition for being the best sister ever.  I am glad to hear that the personal Joy and admiration for who you are continues.     

I did try the website over the weekend ... surprise !!   I remember you said the site will one day be closed but I thought," what the heck."  Then I remembered Mercury is retrograde ... some things remain the same. haha
  Take good care of each other ... know you are often in my thoughts and always in my prayers.
All my best with Love, Judi


5/12/03

Joanne,     I am glad to hear that you had a good mother's day weekend, all things considered. You and Joelle are constantly in our prayers, but I said some extra prayers to the Virgin Mary to help you get through this particular mothers day. I have been thinking about you both over the past few days and was going to drop you a line some time this week. I was pleasantly surprised to see your e mail this morning when I got into work. We had a quiet weekend, giving Colette what ever she wanted. The girls were great doing everything for her. We went out to dinner Saturday to beat the crowds and Sunday we had Chinese food, Colette's request. We are looking forward to seeing you both soon. May God continue to bless you with strength, fortitude and peace. Talk to you soon.     John


5/5/03
Good morning!!  I am just now sitting still (for a change) to have my first cup of coffee, I saw a single penny on the kitchen table and decided to spend this time with you.  Let it never be said I cannot take a hint ... haha

I so enjoyed Laura's journal ... it is no wonder you are so proud of her.  How thoughtful of you to share with us.  Have you thought about taking excerpts from her personal words and placing them on note cards... with or without pictures.  Her words, even taken out of context, are so wise and meaningful for such a young woman. 

It sounds like you and Joelle had a great time at Disney.  What a wonderful gift for you both and first class for two very classy ladies!!  It really was generous of that anonymous individual who understands the joy of giving.  I am glad you have a forum (the website) to let them know what a blessing the trip has been for you.  Pictures we want to see pictures ... haha

Take good care of yourself...
love to you and Joelle... 
Judi


5/2/03
Hi Joanne,

I was so happy to hear Joelle and you had a good trip to Florida and a good Easter.  I hope you were able to relax a little.  I was so happy to hear that Joelle found pennies along the way.

We are doing well.  We had a good Easter and it helped that it was a beautiful day outside instead of rainy. Deanna was able to see the whole family and that made her day.

I hardly get on the computer so I am trying to write to everyone I don't speak to often.

I hope work is going better for you.  I think of you often.  Keep up your spirits and you and Joelle are always in my thoughts and prayers.

Take care,

Love,

Lina


5/2/03
Happy Early Mother's Day


The young mother set her foot on the path of life. "Is this the long way?"  she asked. And the guide said: "Yes, and the way is hard. And you will be old before you reach the end of it. But the end will be better than the beginning."

But the young mother was happy, and she would not believe that anything could be better than these years. So she played with her children, and gathered flowers for them along the way, and bathed them in the clear streams; and the sun shone on them, and the young Mother cried, "Nothing will ever be lovelier than this."

Then the night came, and the storm, and the path was dark, and the children shook with fear and cold, and the mother drew them close and covered them with her mantle, and the children said, "Mother, we are not afraid, for you are near, and no harm can come."

And the morning came, and there was a hill ahead, and the children climbed and grew weary, and the mother was weary. But at all times she said to the children, "A little patience and we are there." So the children climbed, and when they reached the top they said, "Mother, we would not have done it without you." And the mother, when she lay down at night looked up at the stars and said, "This is a better day than the last, for my children have learned fortitude in the face of hardness. Yesterday I gave them courage.

Today, I have given them strength."

And the next day came strange clouds which darkened the earth, clouds of  war and hate and evil, and the children groped and stumbled, and the mother said: "Look up. Lift your eyes to the light." And the children looked and saw above the clouds an everlasting glory, and it guided them beyond the darkness. And that night the Mother said, "This is the best day of all, for I have shown my children God."

And the days went on, and the weeks and the months and the years, and the mother grew old and she was little and bent. But her children were tall and strong, and walked with courage. And when the way was rough, they lifted  her, for she was as light as a feather; and at last they came to a hill, and beyond they could see a shining road and golden gates flung wide. And mother said: "I have reached the end of my journey. And now I know the end is better than the beginning, for my children can walk alone, and their children after them."

And the children said, " You will always walk with us, Mother, even when you have gone through the gates." And they stood and watched her as she went on alone, and the gates closed after her. And they said: "We cannot see her, but she is with us still. A Mother like ours is more than a
memory. She is a living presence."

Your Mother is always with you. She's the whisper of the leaves as you walk down the street, she's the smell of bleach in your freshly laundered socks she's the cool hand on your brow when you're not well. Your Mother lives inside your laughter. And she's crystallized in every tear drop. She's the place you came from, your first home; and she's the map you follow with every step you take. She's your first love and your first heartbreak, and nothing on earth can separate you.. Not time, not space...not even death!


4/30/03
Joanne,
So good to hear about your trip and about how you felt Laura's presence! I know Laura is always there with you, she has really gone nowhere, we just can't see her that is all. The main reason I am doing the Relay for Life cancer walk here is in memory of Laura. I felt I had to do something. You all are doing stuff in CT and I can't be part of it, this is my way of doing something. I am so glad to hear about the rotary doing the Relay for Laura. I really think that is so special.
Lots and lots of love and happy memories (old and new).
Sushma


4/30/03
Hello All,
I am going to walk for the American Cancer Society on May 17. The event is called "Relay for Life" and is going to be a 24-hour marathon with each team having members walk to support Cancer research. We are also taking any donations for that whether it be $10 or $25. I have lost some dear people this year early and I want to do something to remember and honor them and help others who may fall into that situation. Hopefully, the cure for this thing is near.
If you would like to join me in this support, please do but please remember there is ABSOLUTELY NO OBLIGATION - and I am not asking that you do support this event - as many people have already supported). However, if you would like to send me your check made out to American Cancer Society and mail it to:
19014 Gallop Drive
Germantown, MD 20874.
We would appreciate it. Thank you so much!
Feel free to view
www.DamscusRelay.org for more information. Those of you who are local and would like to join me in the walk, please do so, I would love it!
Lots of love to all,
Sushma