Doreen was born on April 19, 1960 into a home in Newark that was packed with love and life.
life. On the first floor lived Doreen and her parents and her older sister Carol. On the second floor lived her Grandparents, her aunt and her cousin Adrian, with whom Doreen would always have a very tender connection.
From very early on in life Doreen was reported to have been “Daddy’s girl,” insisting on getting to sit next to her father whenever seating arrangements were to be made. But it was her mom that Doreen looked like — who she would later introduce as her “little me.”
The family moved to Parsippany when Doreen was going into second grade. Throughout her life, Doreen had a remarkable capacity for making lifelong friends, and in elementary school Joyce became her first such friend. In middle school Doreen and Joyce joined forces with Robin, Karen, Holly and Randy Wolff to form what came to be known as the Wolffy gang. Later Pam would join the pack.
In high school Doreen was a flag twirler in the marching band. She spent two summers with her friends working down in Wildwood, where she would wear a Mr. Peanut costume promoting planters peanuts. (That must have been hot!)
After graduating from Parsippany High, Doreen spent two years at Morris County College. After graduation she worked for a Hotel and a Law Office before settling in eighteen years ago into Real Estate. With her friendly, outgoing nature Doreen was a natural in sales, winning the “Rookie of the Year” award her first year at her firm, and being among the highest in sales for years to come. Oftentimes, her clients would become her friends.
In 2003 Doreen married her long time boyfriend Tom, and although the marriage didn’t last, the friendship did. Doreen always knew how to be a friend.
When her sister Carol’s two children came along, Doreen gave herself heart and soul over to the role of aunt. She came to all Jimmy’s football games and took lots of pictures. With constant texting, Alexandra and Doreen shared a special girl-buddy relationship. Alexandra’s mother wasn’t one to give much thought to fashion, so Doreen became Alexandra’s confidante and guide in all things regarding style and fashion. Aunt Doreen came to define “good taste” for her niece, so much so that when her mother wanted to guide her daughter without her knowing it in her selection of which coat she should wear to her formal a few months back, all Carol needed to do was have her sister Doreen arrive wearing the coat she wanted Alexandra to pick.
Doreen loved throwing parties. Her family remembers the New Years’ Eve parties she would host. One time they all had to show up in pajamas. Another time they were required to put on wacky pairs of glasses before they could enter. Doreen was always the life of the party.
When Facebook came along a couple of years back, Doreen took full advantage of it to reconnect with old friends. She located Karen from the old Wolffy gang down in Texas. She found Liz, another old high school friend, living down in Florida. With friends who lived too far away to see in person, social media provided Doreen a way to be in daily contact with old friends.
Doreen was always so full of life. She was feisty, bubbly — the life of the party.
And so it was particularly surprising when just last December Doreen was diagnosed with cancer.
Doreen was determined that it wouldn’t get her down – that she would keep things light. For her chemotherapy appointments, Doreen would dress up complete with makeup and jewelry. She held onto her sense of humor – charming the doctors and nurses who cared for her, making them laugh. Not long ago, when severe headaches forced her to cancel a trip she had planned to visit her beloved Adrian, sending her to the hospital in the middle of the night, she greeted her medical team like they were her old buddies with whom she needed to get caught up: “So what did I miss while I’ve been gone?”
She continued to make friends. When Donna, a colleague that she didn’t know well put it out on Facebook that she was being forced to give up her apartment, and as a result, her dog named Daisy, and that Daisy would have to be put down in no one took her, Doreen thought about it and decided to take Daisy herself. Daisy and Doreen became one another’s beloved companions, and Donna became Doreen’s friend as well, sleeping over at Doreen’s house some nights to help out with her care.
“When I get better…” Doreen would say — there were so many things she planned to do. She bought a new outfit not long ago which she intended to wear to a wedding she was going with Tom to in June.
Her friends were there at her side, encouraging her along the way, showing the same loyalty to Doreen that she had shown to them. The old Wolffy gang plus her sister Carol came up with plans for a big night out on the town for Doreen. A stretch limousine was reserved, and Tee shirts were made that said on one side, “The Wolfs take on Manhattan” and on the other “Doreen’s day – May 5th, 2013.” Karen flew in from Texas. Unfortunately, though when May 5th came around Doreen simply wasn’t up to it, and the adventure had to be postponed. A couple of days later, a more modest outing took place. Doreen and the girls climbed into the stretch limousine, stopping first at her parents’ house for pictures. Theu went on to Davey’s in Ledgewood for hot dogs, and then to Lake Hopatcong to remember happy times spent there long ago, concluding with ice cream at Cliff’s on Route 10.
It would be Doreen’s last outing into the world.
A few days later, too sick to attend Alexandra’s college graduation Doreen watched her niece receive her diploma via face time.
She gave the battle with cancer her best shot – Doreen fought the good fight.
The last three weeks were very hard for all of you. You surrounded Doreen with a cocoon of love as she began to let go of this world. I was privileged to witness this love and have the opportunity to pray with Doreen late Tuesday afternoon. I told her about the extraordinary love that was waiting for her when God would welcome her home – I told her it was okay to let go. Early Wednesday morning, surrounded by great love, Doreen departed peacefully to enter the kingdom of heaven.
It is so very beautiful there – more beautiful than we are capable of imagining. The love we have known here is only a pale reflection of the love we will know when we join Doreen there.
I choose this passage from the Gospel of John were Jesus, the night before he dies, tells his disciples these words:
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my father. You did not choose me, but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.” (15:12 – 17)
Doreen knew how to be a friend. She was a good friend. The words of Jesus tell us that there is something about the nature of a good friendship that reveals the love of God. Doreen’s life and her capacity for friendship revealed the love God has for all of us.
Jesus told his disciples that after he was no longer with them in the physical world they were to go and bear the fruit that lasts, and the thing that lasts is love. Live is above love. That is why we are here: to love. We get distracted and imagine life is about all kinds of other things, but love is the one thing that never ends, and love is the one thing that matters.
Doreen loves you still. And one day you will be together in that place where there is no pain, no tears, no death.
The way to honor Doreen in her death is to commit ourselves with whatever the amount of time we have left in this world to go forth and bear fruit – that is, to live lives of love, being good friends like Doreen was a good friend for you. To laugh and to cry with one another, to forgive and encourage one another, to be there for one another to witness to the light in the times of darkness.