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  • Thank You

    Written Jun 24, 2011 9:42pm

    To our dear amazing family and friends:

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    Our family has been overwhelmed with your kindness and generosity throughout the past year and especially today.


    A dear friend, Kathy Lorentz, told me that a saint’s feast day is the day that they died.  Now, I know Jill was certainly no angel—she EARNED the nickname, “Jill the Pill”.  But still, it is a comforting name for a day which is so difficult to remember.

    We, all who knew and loved Jill, experienced with her a year of unthinkable, incredible and painful challenge.

    And yet, there was also joy. 

    I choose to remember the joy.

    I choose to remember the young woman who told us months after facing a devastating diagnosis:

    “I’ll always remember the visits with dozens of friends, sunny lunches on the back deck, movie nights and sunsets, road trips to Tahoe and relaxation in the Pines.  As it turns out, I got more adventure out of my summer than I could have expected.”

    I choose to remember the girl who TAUGHT us to “find the joy.”


    A year ago, I wrote:

    “While we were all endeavoring to take care of Jill, I realize now that she was taking care of us.  She was teaching us all so many invaluable life lessons:

    When you reach out to someone, whoever they are, with kindness and generosity, you become bigger and better and stronger yourself.

    When you offer kindness to someone in need, that kindness multiplies and gains more force and becomes distributed throughout the world to others who need it too.

    Jill taught us that when you pray for someone, your own Faith becomes stronger and more powerful

    Jill taught us that we do not always pick our life’s journey, but we choose how we walk it and we choose to see the beauty along whatever path we travel.

    Jill taught us that each day is precious and each day holds joy if we open our eyes to it, and when we find that joy we need to embrace it and celebrate it.

    Jill taught us that having your best life is making each day your best day…


    Sometimes there is a loss so devastating as to seem unimaginable and unbearable.

    Sometimes there is no reason; there is no explanation; there can be no understanding.

    There is only acceptance and acceptance in the absence of understanding is the true miracle of faith.  Jill’s faith was strong.  The path to peace for all who loved her is to know that Jill was an incredible gift to all of us and to be grateful.”


    The last year has been a year of perhaps even greater challenge, accompanied by more excruciating pain; a year of emotional devastation and sorrow, and the parental apocalypse of the loss of a beloved child.

    It is a year in which we, as Jill also did, “figure out a new kind of normal”:  a “normal” in which we learn to live with Jill in our hearts instead of our arms.

    I believe it is a challenge which will take a lifetime.


    But my sweet friend, <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Breda, gave me a full moon medallion and told me, “Even when we do not see it, the moon is still shining, and it still has power over us.”  I believe Jill is still shining and I believe she still has power over us—because she taught us so much.


    Jill told us “the fact that joy exists even when everything seems to be falling apart is what keeps me going everyday…life is filled with people who constantly remind me that the world is filled with more good than bad, more hope than doubt, and more love than pain.”

    She gave us the tools to meet our challenge and “keep going.”


    Jill taught us HOW to meet our challenge—with love:

    “Do it all the time, under all conditions, without restrictions or limitations.  Don’t hold back your love; constantly remind the people you love that you do…Don’t waste your time criticizing or complaining; there is no time for that.”


    Jill taught us to be grateful: “Learn to appreciate every good thing that happens to you.”

    I am grateful for the gift of Jill—for that incredible and amazing bundle of pink joy God placed in my arms, cherished and loved every minute of her life, and then, beyond.

    I looked for a miracle and then learned the miracle had been in my arms all along—I am grateful.

    I asked for a village to help us, and a mighty army of angels came forth and held us up for the past two years—I am grateful.


    I have great consolation in knowing that Jill had every gift but time.

    I have great comfort in knowing that Jill knew she was loved and cherished and supported by so many.

    I have great solace in knowing that Jill’s twenty-two years were short but they were golden—and you were all the gold.

    I am grateful.

    Thank you all so much.


    Years ago, on her Facebook page, under “Favorite Quotations”, Jill wrote:

    “Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?” [Clarence in “It’s a Wonderful Life”]

    An awful hole indeed.


    Jill wrote this letter to a someone who had lost a dear friend.

    I think she would tell us all the same thing too:


    "I am so sorry to hear of your loss. I may not know you very well personally, but I can tell by your unwavering love and support for your girlfriend that you are a strong and wonderful man. Life is truly unfair, and though we might not understand it now, I hope that one day we both will realize that everything is part of God's plan. Love never dies. Although her physical presence may be gone, know that she will be with you ALWAYS.

    I'm not sure where I first heard this poem, but I find it very comforting...

    Do not stand at my grave and weep;
    I am not there. I do not sleep.
    I am a thousand winds that blow.
    I am the diamond glints on snow.
    I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
    I am the gentle autumn rain.
    When you awaken in the morning's hush
    I am the swift uplifting rush
    Of quiet birds in circled flight.
    I am the soft stars that shine at night.
    Do not stand at my grave and cry;
    I am not there. I did not die.
    -Mary Elizabeth Frye

    I pray for your continued strength and trust in God. Please keep in touch.

    Jill "


    With great gratitude, Mary Costello






  • Written Aug 1, 2010 2:35am

    Eulogy by John Morello from Jill's Memorial Service, June 30:

    Hello, my name is John Mark Morello.  I'm one of Jill's Morello Cousins and I might even say--her favorite!  Plainly said--I love Jillian and I would have done anything for Jillian--I even wore her yellow purse for her when she asked, although it was hidden under my big football coat so I could sneak her beloved Jack into her hospital room.  And thus, this is why I'm standing before you--I want to help Jill fulfill one of her last wishes and I need you all to help me--and in helping me--you will be helping people all around he world so they might not lose someone to Lung Cancer as we have, like how Auntie Mary and Uncle Jim lost their daughter; how Jimmy and Kevin lost their sister; like Grandma lost her granddaughter; like me losing Jill--we need to come together and support the Bonnie J. Addario Jog for Jill on September 12, 2010--it's going to be right in our own backyard--at Golden Gate Park--and as we smile and cry today for Jill--let us walk in September for Jill.

    Did you know that 25% of women diagnosed with lung cancer were never smokers? Did you know that if Jillian had a means for early detection of her lung cancer or, even better, a cure for her disease--Jillian would be still alive today, because most people who have lung cancer are diagnosed so late that they will die within a year.  I'm sure you know that anyone can get lung cancer--and you don't have to be a smoker--actually 60% of new lung cancer diagnoses are to those that have never smoked or quit smoking a long time ago--Jillian never smoked, she was not exposed to any obvious cancer causes nor ever did anything that may have caused her cancer.

    Did you know that Lung Cancer is the number 1 cancer killer?  It kills more people than those with breast, prostate, colon, liver, melanoma, and kidney cancer combined.  Did you know lung cancer surpassed breast cancer in 1987 as the leading cause of death for women and lung cancer will kill 3 times the amount of men killed by prostrate cancer?  And I guess I don't even have to say that it hits the young and the old for we are gathered today for a 22 year old's funeral.  Did you know that because of the crazy, shocking, sickening underfunding, lung cancer research has kept the survival rate as low as it was in 1971?  It's a new millennium, people--and things have to change so that another girl like Jill doesn't have to die at 22, so that another family doesn't have to be devastated, so another church doesn't have to fill and mourn a lost warrior.

    Two weeks ago, Jill was named the Director of Public Awareness for the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation.  Two weeks ago she saw herself walking the Jog for Jill in September--her last entry, in her weak scribble in her journal, reflected that she planned, plotted, and pondered the possibilities of having her "Team Jill" win the Jog in September.  She wrote in her journal to "Get the Word Out Big".  Well, as I said at the beginning of my speech to you--I would do anything for Jill--so here I am speaking from my heart--let's get the word out big together, let's walk together, let's make Jill's last wish come true for her.  

    If we can cry together, and laugh together, we better be able to walk together and walk tall and straight and determined that Jill's fight against cancer will never be over because we will walk and fight for her.  We will be as committed as Jill, so that the facts like I've just mentioned will change for  the better.  That if Jill chose to send her last moments working on Jog for Jill, that if Jill could plan to walk in September when her walking had become almost impossible, doesn't give you the inspiration to carry on Jill's passion--let me leave this thought with you:  in Jill's last days, she needed help walking, she needed able arms to hold her and strong backs and sturdy legs to support her every step--I know that anyone of you would have offered her your arms and back--even your legs to help her in her time of need--and here and now my family and friends, we have the opportunity.  We can and we BETTER offer Jill our legs.  We can walk for Jill since she no longer can, we can support Jill's Jog for Jill--Jill wanted to get the word out big!  On September 12th, let's make sure that we show her that not only did she get the "word out big", but that we heard.  

    Knowing Jill the way I do--I think she'd rather have your support on September 12th than all the tears of today--good thing we can give her both.  Please grab a bracelet to wear and remember.  I'd like this walk to be bigger than Jill could have ever dreamed of.  Please tell everyone you know so we can have record numbers and then some.  Please sign up on the Bonnie J. Addario website for Team Jill.  Please join Jill in spirit.

    Please, let's not just talk the talk--let's walk the walk!
  • Written Jul 5, 2010 9:26pm

    Jillian Helene Weinkauf Costello

    December 1, 1987 – June 24, 2010


    Born December 1, 1987, a Christmas angel for her loving parents, Mary and Jim Costello, and big brothers, James and Kevin, Jillian returned to the loving arms of Jesus and the Blessed Lady on June 24, 2010. She is the beloved granddaughter of Helen Weinkauf. Jill was extremely grateful for the loving and devoted care of her very special Auntie Kathy, Uncle Mark and Morello cousins, Jessica, Mike and John. Jill is the cherished niece of Diane and Mark Germenis, and George, Steven, Greg and Diane Weinkauf; and beloved cousin of Brian and Julie Germenis; Gregory, Stella, Connie and Angela Weinkauf; and Matt Costello. She is survived by the love of her life, Bryce Atkinson, and her devoted lifelong friend, Liz Button. She loved and was loved by numerous friends who enriched her life immeasurably and supported her amazingly as she faced her greatest challenge this past year.

    A 7th generation San Franciscan, Jill is a proud graduate of St. Brendan School, St. Ignatius College Preparatory and UC Berkeley, where she became a Kappa Kappa Gamma sister.

    Undeterred by incredible medical demands, Jill graduated from Cal in May, and was coxswain for the Cal Crew Varsity 8, winning the gold at the Pac10 and silver at the NCAA National Championship.  Named a Cal Athletic Scholar, Jill received the Joseph M. Kavanaugh Award, presented to the most courageous and inspirational athlete; and the Women’s Crew Bettina Bents award for loyalty, proficiency and spirit. Jill was awarded the Pac10 Conference Women’s Rowing Athlete of the Year, and named to the Pac10 All-Academic second team. Jill motivated her Cal team with her fight and determination so much that they raced at the Cal-Stanford “Big Row” and the NCAA Championship as “Team Jill”. 

    Diagnosed with lung cancer last June, Jill chose to spend her last year living fully, completely, and joyfully.  She was an inspiration as she met her challenge with courage, faith and determination. Despite the hardships she faced, Jill taught us to embrace the joy of each day and to celebrate it, so we invite you to wear your favorite color to her services as we celebrate the life of Jill.

    Jill was extremely grateful to her Team Jill for their complete and loving support, as well as, her KKG sisters, who always held her in their loving arms.  Upon graduation, Jill was proud to accept the position of Director of Public Awareness for the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation.

    Jill faced cancer as a brave and courageous warrior.  But even the greatest warrior finally lays down her weapons. Jillian shared her journey through her CaringBridge journal, and personal messages may be left there:


                In lieu of flowers, Jill’s family requests support to the “Jill Costello Scholarship” at St. Ignatius College Preparatory, or her passion, “Team Jill” at the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation, and invites everyone to the “Jog for Jill” on Sept 12 for lung cancer research.


    A Letter from Mary, Jill’s Mom


                A year ago, I said that I knew it took a village to raise a child and that I prayed then for a village to save my child.  A mighty village stepped forth—armed with prayer, cookies, books, flowers, positive energy and every other weapon you could imagine. We are incredibly grateful for all of you who stepped forth in so many ways, for everyone who ever said a prayer with Jill’s name in it.

                But most importantly, this mighty village surrounded Jill and our family with an incredible force field of love and prayer—holding us all in God’s grace. Never was there a moment when Jill was not surrounded by love and faith, from her family, her friends, and even people around the world who had never met her. Although Jill had an extraordinary challenge to her health, God also blessed her with an extraordinarily strong body, will, spirit and faith.

                While we were all endeavoring to take care of Jill, I realize now that she was taking care of us also.  She was teaching us all so many invaluable life lessons:

                When you reach out to someone, whoever they are, with kindness and generosity, you become bigger and better and stronger yourself.

                When you offer kindness to someone in need, that kindness multiplies and gains more force and becomes distributed throughout the world to others who need it, too.

                Jill taught us that when you pray for someone, your own Faith becomes stronger and more powerful.

                Jill taught us that we do not always pick our life’s journey, but we choose how we walk it and we choose to see the beauty along whatever path we travel.

                Jill taught us that each day is precious and each day holds joy if we open our eyes to it, and when we find that joy we need to embrace it and celebrate it.

                Jill taught us that having your best life is making each day your best day.

                Jill spent the last year living fully and joyfully, with great grace and dignity. The year was a gift because we were conscious of how precious each day was.  We had amazingly intimate times with family and friends.  We made a point of watching the majesty of the sunset and appreciating the awesome beauty of the ocean and recognizing the incredible miracle of a newborn baby (thank you, Dash.)


    I am in awe of my daughter. I do not believe Jillian’s life was “cut short”. 

    I believe Jill’s life was exactly what it was supposed to be.

    It was beautiful and creative, generous and kind, confidently welcoming of any challenge, and grateful for all the blessings it received.


    Sometimes there is a loss so devastating as to seem unimaginable and unbearable.

    Sometimes there is no reason; there is no explanation; there can be no understanding.

    There is only acceptance and acceptance in the absence of understanding is the true miracle of faith.  Jill’s faith was strong. The path to peace for all who loved her is to know that Jill was an incredible gift to us all and to be grateful for the gift..


    Last June I prayed for a miracle.  Now I realize the miracle was in my arms all along. Now I see that Jill WAS the miracle. She was an inspiration and gift to us all.

    She taught us all to be better people than we were.


    On her last day, Jill wrote in her journal, “Did I make the world a better place?” and she answered, “Yes, I did.” She was right.


    Jill accepted her final challenge and she won—she beat us all to Heaven.



    Eulogy from Auntie Kathy

    Hello, I’m Jillian’s Auntie Kathy—We are here to celebrate Jill and to rejoice in her life, her love, her legacy, I don’t know how I will do this eulogy, but I will try, actually I will try to be like Jill and try to do my best, but if I start to cry or my voice gets shaky, please pardon me for I’m not truly ready to say Bon Voyage to Jill, but I am ready for Jill to be free for I know Jill is in a joyful place, and as she was in life—she is still ever a strong and good spirit, and, I’m sure, still very determined to follow her destiny as God has determined—and speaking of destiny—today is part of Jill’s destiny—all of Jill’s 22 years was her destiny, and I honesty feel with all my heart and faith, that Jill’s destiny is continuing—just in a different form and with a different purpose—ones I do not understand but can accept for one’s own destiny is their own, last week as I saw Jill’s suffering—her body became not her home anymore, but I do know, I feel it to the core of my being, that Jill’s spirit was uniquely hers and forever, ever, will be—Jill’s journey on earth was Jill’s journey and we who loved, admired, and were inspired by her can take comfort that our own destiny’s intersected with Jill’s. I like to think that Jill’s passing was another graduation for Jill—and the timing apropos, because as all graduates do, Jill is transitioning into a different phase of her destiny, ready to fulfill her own, ongoing promise, and reap the rewards that I’m sure Jill is now enjoying with God, Jesus, and our Blessed Lady—and hopefully with my Dad too. When Jill’s time came to be, Jill herself said that she was ready, she was not scared, and that she’d be watching over so I am taking great comfort and have great confidence that she’s with us now for lets be honest she would not have wanted to miss this-- she would have loved the honors that have been bestowed on her from everyone’s kind words and generous deeds, she would have loved the accolades and acclaims of her many, many accomplishments, but most of all, she loved you all and would have welcomed you to be part of this as she welcomed you to her crew races, tea parties, and all her other family and friend celebrations, with all your blue and gold colors, your turquoise, and with all your love for our girl.

    I say “our girl”, but in my heart she was my baby—as I am sure many of you too consider her---Jill was born on December 1, right on time to be a lifelong Christmas gift to our family. She was a beautiful baby, and I remember rushing over to Mary and Jim’s after my night nursing shift to love and hold her, partially for me, but also to protect her from her two wonderful brothers, Jimmy and Kevin’s, overzealous kisses and hugs or possible other big brother antics and to give my sister a little help or so she could just take a shower in peace—and there lies the essence of my relationship to Jill—I always rushed to love her, to care for her, to protect her, for it made me feel good, I saw it as my role as “auntie Kathy” to Jill and as sister to Mary—I didn’t know that the covenant I made when Jill was born would play out as it did this past year—but I thank God that I had the 22 years of practice, so that when Jill was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer and Jill endured a bomb like no other, to us the most powerful and destructive one imaginable--Team Jill went into battle with her—and I say battle (you can picture every battle story you ever read, and every battle movie you ever saw and this was our reality) Jill with her loyal troops took to arms, albeit, sometimes simply just to each others, our enemy was cancer, and with Jill’s no hold barred philosophy, Jill gathered forces and resources, both internal and external, to  strive to conquer and win with no rock or, I should say, research, unturned, no reluctance, with a resolve that now will be legendary.  I knew what I had to do and dear Jillian knew and trusted me to do it as she did with you all, right down to Jill commodering the best room at ucsf via me to my dear Jeannette while she was having an emergency blood transfusion in the Er—and if that’s doesn’t sound like a warrior in battle, I don’t know what is.

    And as I speak to you, I don’t want Jill’s battle with cancer to define her, but I am using it to help describe her, but also to give me and you help to sustain through our sorrow—when you feel weak—think of Jill’s strength, when you feel up against the odds—think of Jill’s unyielding decision not to allow the odds to destroy her hope, when you are lonely without Jill—think that Jill’s spirit was way too strong to just stop on a heartbeat, that she is with you, as she has been in the glow of this week’s full moon, and I think it was Jill, that with God’s ok, gave us an earthquake a couple of mornings ago—so to give Mary and I a little shake to get  to stop our crying and out of our gloom while at the beach, so we could get back to work on today’s celebration of her life.

    I have so many happy memories of Jill as I’m sure you all do—and I’m not sure that I want to forget the bad ones either, --I hope I never forget the moment that is etched in my mind of her laying in her white bed, in her white room, with her little white puppy when I visited her after one my 630 morning mass saying to me in her weak sleepy voice—You smell good--- for I don’t want to forget one minute of the life experiences that Jill and I shared.  As many of you know, I live right up the block from the Costello’s—and it was a true blessing and I believe it, as one of God’s divine interventions—Jill was a big part of my life, my household shenigans, and I will treasure the memories of seeing her daily in her little red sweater from her St Brendan bear days—wearing big bows a la Mary and Nordstrom’s, --I’ll never forget our school carpools—with as many neighborhood kids that could fit, with Jillian thinking that she should always be sitting in the front seat---I still have snapshots in my mind of the Morello-Costello cousins on Halloween, Jill being a chicken or a Shirley temple, I will remember her being as smart as a whip, and even those moments that Jill was truly deserving of her nickname of “Jill, the pill”. Jill had a blessed childhood, with her Morello cousins, and the Morello cousins were blessed with her, even poor Johnny, who via courtesy of big cousin Jill, thought that there were sharks in the waters at Konocti, because our Jill did have a little deviousness in her!!

    As all you know, Jill excelled in high school at SI—she was the total package—excellent student, competitive athlete, beautiful girl, and always with friends held dear—like Siobban, Gianna, and Kelsey. Her SI days prepared her for her UC Berkeley days—and that’s where Jill soared—we all know that she did very well academically, education was important to her—so much so, that when she first was diagnosed no one would have thought negatively if she decided to quit and spend her time differently—but not our Jill—Jill was determined to stay in school—despite her disease, her discomforts, her disabilities because Jill always wanted to succeed in school, she wanted her diploma—and may I say Jill earned a her first 4.0 at Berkeley her last semester, albeit, she only had one class—but as you must all agree—it must have been the hardest 4.0 she ever earned.  –and please to the many young here today—learn from Jill—she would have wanted to be your example—value education, do as well as you can, not only to better your future, but also to better your today—education was a gift Jill valued—learning and intelligence was a priority to Jill—lets all try to be as smart as Jill. Let’s all try to pull ourselves up to a higher rung no matter the weights we carry.

    Now, we know that Jill was brilliant and education was very important to her, but lets be honest, Jill loved Berkeley in large part because she loved her Cal Crew team and her Sorority Girls—and I want to thank Dave O’Neil for his loving support so that Jill could continue her crew and thank all the girls of her crew team and sorority for their love and support—I know for a fact, that you all meant the world to Jill and you made her world a better place this past year by allowing her to be who she was and who she wanted to be –you all were instrumental  in helping Jill not give cancer anymore than it could steal. And of course, UC Berkeley is the place that Jill met her true love, Bryce.

     One day recently, while Jill and I were in the hospital alone—I casually mentioned that I was going to save the milk for Bryce so when he came to visit he could have cookies and milk—Jill said, “Auntie Kathy you love Bryce, and I said, Yes I do because he loves you”—and yes Bryce you did love Jill and I will forever be grateful to you and your parents for raising such a fine man—I know that this year must have been very hard for you and this week took a significant toll, but I thank you for taking good care of my girl, for loving her in sickness and in health, in good times and bad, for giving her hope and unconditional love, when I know at times, loving her brought fear and tears to you—you are a good and honorable man, and as always Jill was always right in her decisions and only wanted the best, which was you.

    Jill’s reality could not fathom dying, Jill had too many dreams and aspirations, and so Jill fought to live with every fiber of her body and soul.  She never despaired because she never felt forsakened—and in large part, it was because of her belief in God—I’ve learned that living with cancer, one has to be realistic and unrealistic all at the same time—I believe Jill did not ever feel that God gave her cancer, but she did have faith that God would help her live with Cancer and take good care of her, if the time came as is now, when she could no longer live with cancer,  then God would take good care of her in heaven. As you all know—Jill, Mary and I traveled to Lourdes in April—it was a trip of a lifetime--phenomenal—we went there because of our faith—yes, we would have loved a miracle of a 100% cure, but we did get miracles—our pilgrimage gave us a respite of the worry that Cancer had brought to us,  it gave us courage and strength to endure what the next few weeks would be bringing , as if we were entering a holy war against cancer, with God, Mary, Jesus and all the saints giving us their fortitude. And most importantly, our pilgrimage did give us a deep sense of peace, one that we often spoke of and drew upon during our most difficult and brutal days—when you enter the domain as they call the area surrounding the Grotto that Mary and St. Bernadette visited, we all felt a deep sense of peace of  just  knowing that there’s more than this earthly life and that Jillian would be ok if this earth and her body became not her home anymore. And besides the holiness of the pilgrimage—Lourdes brought us a prime example of Jill’s spunkiness—as God and my sister were witnesses with me—Jill got in a fight in Lourdes—she had used the Handicap bathroom and some people who didn’t think she was handicap, spoke in Spanish, and my little peanut stood up to them in her very fluent Spanish in return, told them that yes she was handicap, and she was going use the bathroom, that she had cancer–needless to say—Jill won the argument— this is just a little example that Jill owned that she had cancer, she acknowledged her own handicap by it ,but by the grace of God she literally was going to fight for what was right—and actually I think she took pride of what she was able to do even with cancer.

    I know that Jill believed that God would have the universe work for Jill and it did---the universe brought to Jill—a great medical team roundtable and I must say Jill received the best care in the world from all over the world with no egos just a common goal to see Jillian through whatever may come.   The Universe gave Jill the Bonnie Addario Lung Cancer Foundation Team, who’s now family to us and her pilgrimage to Lourdes with the Knights and Dames of Malta—Jill was able to soar such heights this past year mostly because of her sheer determination and true grit to do so, but also because she stood on many shoulders that allowed her to reach the full heights that she did—Jill was never alone, her journey was full of people, like you all,  who loved her, people that were inspired by her and thus inspired her in return, by decades and decades and even more decades of rosaries, by caringbridge notes, by God’s interventions, and Our Ladies intercessions , and even little Jack’s puppy love—the best medicine ever—and may I interject at this point and thank everyone personally for your service of love to Jill—Jill felt it, and it meant the world to her—also may I say that Jill not only valued your service, but she valued being of service to others-- on one of the last days Jill spent at home, she reveled in her first paycheck from the Bonnie Addario Foundation, she proofed her business cards as Director of Public Awareness, and optimistically planned with Ann on volunteering for another Knights of Malta pilgrimage to Lourdes—and that was Jill—she epitomized the song—“Live like your Dying”

    Now, this eulogy would not be complete if I didn’t mention Jill’s capacity to love and accept wholeheartedly love from others—she loved her mom and dad, her brothers, her cousins, her aunts and uncles, friends, doctors, and her infamous IPhone—can I say I will forever miss her calls,  her 24/7 texts, and her pictures, pictures, pictures and--- I’m so forever grateful she loved her Auntie Kathy too --she loved the world—and that I feel is one of the reasons she worked so hard to succeed, to inspire, to beat cancer, to live. –Jill loved life, therefore she had great hope despite the odds, despite the work that living life requires, despite her diagnosis—and in this realization of Jill—let us live to honor Jill, not to allow the salt of our tears to lessen the sweetness of her life—lets honor Jill by following in her footsteps and to incorporate Jill’s strengths and heroism in our daily lives, to nurture and nourish hope everyday in what we say and in all our ways, no matter the dramas or traumas our life brings to our own destiny’s, to live each day fully and faithfully, to fan the flames that life is good no matter how long or short, no matter how happy or sad, let us not waste the lessons of Jill’s life, let us remember Jill’s inspiration to value life, to value family, to always try to achieve, to do our best always—no slackers or whimpering allowed was Jill’s motto,  to make the most of what God allows us to have, and, maybe most importantly, to live lives of service for those in need for we all wanted to help Jill, many of us would have walked on fire for her, so in her memory let us help others, let us value with all our hearts our families and friends, let us not miss an opportunity to comfort and care for each other,  let us be kind, let us not let the life lessons we learned from Jill be in vain—let us use them to make this world a better place, let us toil to make Jill as proud of us, as we are of her.

    In conclusion, I must say thank you for you all, Jill spent her last weak whispered words dictating to my Jess, Mary, and I words of love for many of you and I know she would have dictated more if only she had the strength, that she was grateful to everyone who was a part of her life’s story, to those that touched her on her life’s journey, especially this year, when she needed you all so much. I want to thank you all for coming today, Jill would be thrilled with the beauty of these last couple of days—I know she would have loved this packed church, she would have loved all the acclaim, the acknowledgments, the prayers for peace. She truly loved you all—she loved her mother, my dear sister, Mary—and may I share that while on our way to Duggan’s that terribly sad day to make today’s arrangements, Mary wanted it to be known that she wants everyone to feel free to talk to her about Jill—don’t worry about making her feel more sad—that my friends and family is impossible—lets talk about Jill, lets keep her alive in our hearts and memories, lets share her. Jill loved her Daddy Jim, and I will always love Jim for taking such good care of Jill, whatever she wanted, he sought to give her, whatever simple or complex act he could do, he did, whether parking close to the door so she didn’t have to struggle for steps or searching the city for a bite that she would eat, Big Jim did it with never a bad word or a hint of hassle, whatever he could do to ease Jill’s journey he did with love and hope that he could please her and of course, I will always love Big Jim for taking such good care of my Sister in her year of sorrow and now grief. Jill felt great gratitude—she knew her Uncle Mark gave me up many a day and night, so I could help Jill. She was so happy and grateful when her Morello cousins, Big Mike and Johnny snuck little Jack under their coats so Jack could cuddle with her in the hospital, and of course for Jess—being the sister she never had!

    Thank you all for being a part of Jill’s highs and lows, for cheering her on, for enriching her time here on earth—and thank you all for helping me help Jill through your prayers and support, for every trick of the trade I could learn from my nursing friends, --for your friendship and love did in fact give all of us more steel in our spines to endure what we thought impossible, to accept what we thought too horrible to accept, to strengthen our resolve to stay calm and carry on, to keep hope alive, to love Jill with all our hearts and to take the best care of Jill in however, whatever way that was needed until her need for care was unneeded. 

    I know that one always says—“Rest in Peace” but knowing Jill as I do, I believe that Jill is not resting in peace—she’s soaring in peace, she’s planning on being the glory in the light of the morning sun, the warmth of the sun, she’s wanting to be the beauty of the sunset on the ocean so near, she’s reveling in every babies laugh, especially Dash’s a. Jill was never one for tears (unlike her Auntie Kathy), so I’m absolutely sure, she’s not crying like us, actually I’m sure her ever strong spirit is probably very busy trying to dry our tears.

    May I leave you with one little Jillian story that I treasure—and it happened after she died—as many of you know I am one of those crazy church ladies that try to go to early morning mass everyday—Jill knew because we spoke about it often, well this past Sunday—Mary and I went to mass as we often do together—we were hurting, we were just trying to put one foot in front of the other in our grief—we always take great consolation in the power of mass—but maybe Jill knew we needed something even more —as we listened to Father Dan’s sermon—he spoke of Dorothy from the Wizard Oz—have you ever heard a sermon of the the Wizard of Oz?—I have not—now many of you know that “Somewhere over the Rainbow” was one of Jill”s most favorite songs and it had great revelance to me—and there on the pulpit, Father Dan spoke of Dorothy traveling to another Land,- now I don’t know if I was suppose to be the lion that needed courage—and got it, or the scarecrow who needed brains, or the tin man that found his heart to be ok after all—but I do know that Dorothy, my Jill, from that message from beyond, via Jill, is ok, she was letting know, that yes, she did get hit by a hell of a tornado, but she, with the help of the wizard, our God—found her way back to her true home—heaven—and the message was so clear, that I actually went to the following 8 o’clock mass to hear the sermon again—which I did, but also I heard, the song “Be not Afraid”.---Which is totally our Jill, loud and clear. Thank you for listening.

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California Pacific Medical Center
2333 Buchanan Street
San Francisco, CA 94115-1925
United States