Another anniversary

Shared by Jamie Flores on February 6, 2017

I still think about her...think about my story and how much she was a part of me. When ever I talk to anyone about my cancer story, she is always there with me, helping me navigate my emotions...cautious and careful being so fragile, but she was my rock. When I was with her, we were two women who shared something that no one wanted to share.  I do not, will not forget you Lillian....

She always knew.....

Shared by Jamie Flores on March 13, 2015

I have never met anyone who just knew when you were around her what you needed. Tough love, caring words, brillant mind, funny stories....that was my experience with Lillian every week I saw her in therapy.  I would virtually run when I went back to work to see her every Wednesday, never knowing what to expect in my session.  She let me talk, about ANYTHING, cancer related or not.  She never judged me, and knows my deepest and darkest secrets and fears.  I miss you Lillian everyday.  I still talk to you, and I hope you hear me.  I just wish I could hear your words back to me and see that smile as we fought our way along.

We all miss you so much...Happy Birthday are loved...Jamie

we met and were instant friends...

Shared by Sheree Roberts on February 12, 2015

My cousin Mickey (my dad's 1st cousin) worked with Lillian at Coney Island Hospital... She and Barbara needed a roommate and I needed a room..we met, and there was no question we'd get a long.... 4th st, between 8th and the Park.... Park Slope... what a great apartment. We were in our early 20's, I had friends from England and they stayed with us a while there. Then Lil, Barb and I took a trip to England and watched Janet & Martin get Married... we took a trip to Paris after the wedding.. and the rest is all a wonderful memory filled with laughter and fun.... Lil, we stayed connected until the early 90's... when grown up life got in the way... but we shared eachother's wedding memories,, and you will live on in my photo's, videos and memory forever....

Shared by Dicky Brand on February 5, 2015

Dear Lillian, still thinking of you my dear, dear friend ! So many wonderful memories.



Shared by Melinda Williamson on February 4, 2015

Dear Lillian
It is hard to believe it is a year since your passing.  Outside it is cold and the snow is present... very similiar to last year this time.  It does seem colder though without the warmth of your smile.  I miss you my friend.  

Dalys Sandoval's words of Remembrance

Shared by Kevin Heidel on May 5, 2014

At Dalys's request, the following words were read by Melody Heidel at Lillians memorial service. Dalys Sandoval is a nurse colleague and friend of Lillian’s who now lives in California. Dalys was also  Lillian’s maid of honor. Dalys writes: 

Thank you for the opportunity to share my memories and a little bit of how Lillian impacted my life, and how special she was to me.  I share with the Heidels and Venezia's the pain of losing our beloved Lillian. 

In the memories we share of her life, we celebrate her -- and she would want us to do that.  She would not want us to be crying right now! 

I spoke with Lillian a week prior to her passing and she was still hopeful and supportive of my family, as I recently lost my Mother in law. That was her, she had a sense of compassion not matched easily. 

I met Lillian around 1986  when she came to work at visiting nurses of New York. I remember how  bushy tailed, and spunky she was as she walked in to the office. She was  packing a big back pack and  ready to learn a new job! 

I was assigned to train her as a visiting nurse!. 

She was ready to tackle a new job and I recall  vividly how  bright eyed she was.  As we talked,  she sparkled a big  white smile as she pulled her hair into a pony tail and off we went to work in Harlem!! It was  in the mid 80s and we manage to stay alive as we cared for people in need. 

I introduced her to the locals and ended up having some type of ethnic food at the end of the day.  We were tired as we walked up and down old buildings and walk-ups with no elevators. I did not see her quitting even after all the  physical demands of the job and I was actually impressed how much Spanish she spoke with the patients! 

I told her you are going to make it ! 

By the end of the day, she had the job down pat, she was quick at learning, and managed along side me some of the most disenfranchised members of our society. She was very attentive to their needs and quickly wanted to move on to do more challenging work. 

She became an Infusion nurse, and for those who do NOT  know what this entails, this is very challenging and very difficulty work.  It is like running a mini hospital in peoples' homes,  but she did it. 

Lillian was the leader at taking our  employer to the union because the agency was working us to the ground. We were loaded up with work with no relief in sight! 

We ended up having a better work load afterwards as the union helped us to improve our work lives.  She did it  without fear!  I was most impressed how fearless and tenacious she was at tackling challenges. 

She eventually became a  nurse Practitioner  with a Masters Degree, and she  managed HIV and Aids patients. She loved the work as  it gave her many challenges and rewards. 

Along with her work, she married,  had 3 beautiful daughters and managed to keep her Cancer at bay for about 10 years. 

She was most of proud of  her children,  family,  Kevin and her friends. 

I am glad she was in my life; we shared trips to the ski  slopes, to  Puerto Rico, the beach, walks through Manhattan and double dates (some were disastrous!). 

I loved her Putanesca sauce with Pasta. I admired her cooking skills and how easy it was for her to whip-up a meal. 

Our lives were enriched because of Lillian and  the spark  that was her life will live in our memories and our hearts. 

Much love to her family,  friends and my deepest condolences. 


Luis's words

Shared by Kevin Heidel on May 5, 2014

The following was written by a patient of Lillian’s, Luis, who chose to have his words read at Lillian's service by a fellow patient of Lillians.


“My condolences to  the family and friends of  Dr. Lillian Venezia. Now she is in a good place with Jesus. Rest in Peace.

I liked Dr. Venezia. I never in my entire life had a person like Lillian. All the time she looked at me as a son. I’ve been on supervision therapy for 3 years.

Because I was bad, Dr. Lillian saved my life. Today I say thank you because I feel fine, and at least I have someone who loved me, not like a patient, but like a son. She was special to me and I will remember her all my life.

I’ve been with Dr. Lillian for 13 years. Thats a long time. God bless Dr. Lillian for being close and looking out for me. I miss Dr. Lillian. Thank you Dr. Lillian. 

God bless her entire family and friends."



Maari's words of Remembrance

Shared by Kevin Heidel on May 5, 2014

The following were presented at Lillian's Memorial Service by a dear friend of Lillian's, Maari DeSouza, the founder of the school one of Lillians' daughter attends.

“My name is Maari.

It was my pleasure and joy to work at The Child School, the school Lillian’s Daughter Imani attends.  One day, sitting in my office at The Child School, Imani shared her love for animals and told me about the mini zoo her parents allowed her to have in their basement. I was intrigued. I am always interested in a child’s family life and this was really special, to find a family that was willing to encourage this love for animals and reptiles, one being an awfully big snake, and house them in their home! And why? Because they were searching for solutions and seeking to understand and support their children. This to me was truly unique. 

So when I met Imani’s mom, Lillian, I was ready to learn and I did. She spoke softly. I learned she was a doer. She stepped up to every challenge. She was brave. And most of all, she believed in her children. In the world comprised of mothers like Lillian, children would be believed in, their talents and strengths cultivated, their future envisioned and fought for and no sacrifice would be considered too much, no matter what the child brought to the table. When God called Lillian to travel such a path, he gave her a a special support team. Standing by her, even though at times feeling a little battered, but always allowing Lillian her dreams and hopes, was Lillian’s support, her husband and  family. You allowed her to be. How can we not admire and thank you for your courage and love?

One day, Imani walked into my office with a huge gigantic unbelievable bouquet of flowers surrounded by big Hosta leaves. Proudly she said, “From our garden”. Each flower was exquisite. The flowers took my breathe away. You see we also have a garden... well, I use the word garden loosely. We had lots of weeds. A friend once said, a weed is any plant you don’t like. So I solved the problem of weeding by loving all our weeds. Best weed garden in Connecticut? When I discovered Lillian loved her garden, had two green thumbs, I could see a chance for us to have a real garden. Our future garden looked so beautiful, filled with the kind of flowers that were in my bouquet. However as Lillian and I talked over the phone about gardening I knew it was not going to work. You cannot get green thumbs over the phone. So we planned her coming to visit us in Connecticut.

Then one day it was my turn, and when I was hurting...suddenly, out of the blue, there was Lillian, reaching out her hand to touch me. Robert Louis Stevenson says, “A friend is a gift you give yourself.” We met for dinner, she was tired from work, it was a gentle evening. I don’t remember much about what we talked about but for me it was as William Rostler wrote, “How rare and wonderful is that flash of moment when we realize we have discovered a friend.” I went home with a warm feeling, I had discovered a friend.

Lillian was one of a kind. I knew her first as a brave dedicated mother, a business woman, as a gardener, and then, my friend. I never heard a criticism even when she had hoped for more from teachers or circumstances. She was able to see the other side. She never pushed or demanded. She would speak up for the underdog. Softly. Kindly. 

Lillian had boundless love. She loved and nurtured her family. She loved her children. She loved gardening and got lost and rejuvinated in her garden and in her country cottage. Her love kept her trying to figure out what it was her children, her husband, her family, her friends needed and that occupied her mind and heart.

Lillian had boundless hope. She believed in her children and saw what could be possible. She made sacrifices. She never gave up. When she discovered her own personal burden and illness she continued to hope. She talked positive, she never cried  on my shoulder about it, she faced her illness and did her best to smile. 

Lillian was brave. With quiet dignity she dealt with her illness, never complaining, never showing desperation or anger.

Best of all, Lillian was spiritual. Her words to me in an e-mail...God is good, He is kind. Your prayers are powerful. I will be OK.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “It is not the length of life but the depth of life.” I am so thankful that Lillian was. I can’t think of her as a light being extinguished, but as a putting out of a lamp because the dawn has come.

As I close I would like to read to you and email that Lillian wrote to me at Christmas a year ago.

“Dear Maari, Your prayers and insights are always welcome. I do believe in being positive and present. I also feel that my life as been a rich, full and generous one. I am feeling OK, started new treatment and have a little more energy. We will spend the next three days at the country cottage and it will be a nice break.”

So Lillian, on behalf of your family and friends I salute you for your courage, your passion and commitment to life. For your nurturing generosity, your patience and understanding, for your spirituality, for your deep devotion to family, for your truth and your uncritical acceptance and love.

On behalf of your family and friends, Lillian, dear friend, I say goodbye. 

Lillian's Lessons

Shared by Kevin Heidel on May 5, 2014

(The following words were read at Lillian's memorial by a very dear friend, Ronnel Kirkley)

How can I describe the kind of person Lillian was? If you never met her, there aren’t enough words to  fully describe the depth of love a compassion she felt and gave to others. But if you indeed had the good fortune to have met her, if only for a moment, you knew who she was, and you could never forget her.


Lillian was a force of nature. Her energy and spirit was apparent when you first met her. Lillian was a leader and an educator, both in words and action. Some of the lessons to be learned from looking at Lillians brief life are as follows:


Live and love fully. Life is unpredictable, and can be cut short. With every interaction with others, be as intense and focused as possible. 


Reach out to distant family and friends, for they hold the richness and diversity that makes life beautiful and enjoyable.


Strive to be your best, exhaust all avenues for reaching your goals, and set them high. The world needs your talent and love and compassion, so reach your full potential and inspire others to do the same.


Take time to appreciate the simple things, weeding your garden,knitting a scarf, sending a friend a card for encouragement, having a chat with your children, spending quiet time at home, in bed, in flannel pajamas, by the fire. 


I’d like to close with a quote from a Buddhist author. It encourages one to have confidence in one’s one uniqueness and gifts that should be shared with the world. It may not be something Lillian would say, but they describe how Lillian led her life as an offering others can aspire to:


“There is nobody else who will offer your heart to the world and experience its sacred qualities but You. You can make a difference in this world, so long as You have confidence in Your innate ability to love.”              


Lodro Rinzler


Two Month Anniversary

Shared by Kevin Heidel on April 3, 2014

My sweet Lillian, today marks two months since your passing. It seems an eternity. My heart weighs heavy with sorrow and the missing and the knowing that so much of our lives will go on without you here to enjoy these events by our side. We are struggling Lillian! But we continue to hold you close to our hearts. 

 I come to the your memorial website and cry when I see your beautiful face and read the lovely stories. But I treasure the times we shared, and though every day is touched with pain, I see you in our girls and you would be so proud of them as they fight to keep up with school and their commitments. Your friends continue to be an incredible source of strength and always seem to know when we need some tender care. 

 The garden is starting to wake up, the crocus are still showing, the daffodils are beginning to open, so soon we will take to the raking and the pruning and the digging. We are getting a lot of rain, which we sorely need, but it so often matches my mood.So I look forward to tending to your garden so that I can be in Your place, touch your soil, your leaves, your petals, smell your fragrance. It will be a comfort to be with you there in a place you love. 

 We miss you terribly

We always will

We keep you close in our hearts and soul.

Day by Day

Shared by Kevin Heidel on March 5, 2014

We are all taking each day one at a time. Its been one month already since Lillian passed, which is hard to believe. Lots of anniversary moments in our house, lots of first times since she passed for all of us. I appreciate everyone's condolences and recognitions of our loss. Life with our families is unpredictable, precious, and sometimes too short. I am blessed to have many beautiful memories with Lillian, to have supportive friends and family, and I am grateful for the time I have left with my girls. 

Lillian's precious gift of sight

Shared by Kevin Heidel on February 26, 2014

Just received word from the The Eye Bank for Sight Restoration that Lillian's donation of her corneas has allowed two people's sight to be restored. What a beautiful act Lillian was able to do; even in passing Lillian keeps on giving to others!

I encourage everyone to concider simlar acts of love. The next time you have an opportunity to do so, fill out an organ donor card, sign the back of your NY state drivers license to indicate your desire to donate your organs when you pass, tell your loved ones of your wishes and fill out a Health Care Proxy card. 

Days of many 'firsts'

Shared by Kevin Heidel on February 26, 2014

Every day is full of firsts, first times with out Lillian. Every time I use something of hers, or catch a glimpse of one of her doilies, smell the flowers that are still adorning the house, see the crocus coming up, see how sad her puppies look, drive her car, pick up the last bit of dry cleaning, every breath and sigh, brings her right back to me. I feel her surrounding me, and my heart sinks and then bouys itself, and I trudge through the day, trying to keep busy, take care of business, care for the girls. Sometimes I will sit longer than I should after breakfast, just thinking, feeling the loss, the emptiness, knowing there is still so much to be done. I take each moment as it comes, follow through on the plan for the day, engage the kids as much as they let me, and at the end of the day feel the night envelop me like a warm blanket placed on me by Lillian herself. I feel her when I awake, and when my head rests on my pillow. 


Shared by Melinda Williamson on February 16, 2014

I met Lillian 8 years ago when our family moved to Windsor Place.  By the spring of that year, my girls and I were quite comfortable going through the Heidel / Venezia front door.  It was usually unlocked.  There were always kids coming and going, dogs and cats wandering about, crackers, cheese, and fruit on the counter. "Eat, eat," Lillian would say.  When leaving my kids usually had blackberries or some kind of fruit in their hand.

Our friendship continued after I moved off the block.  Our professions crossed paths so I had a window into the compassionate, steadfast, competent nurse practitioner Lillian was.  In the last 2 years, I spent hours in her office studying while she was seeing patients in the other room.  She was a cheerleader for me to complete my pre-requistes for nursing school.  During this time I learned of her work with patients who had HIV in the 80's at St. Vincent's Hospital.  Through the years she continued her work with HIV as well as worked with clients with mental health issues.  Lillian always had an open heart for her patients and went beyond compassion in caring for them.  Not once but several times when Lillian's patients died, she brough home their pet.  There were 2 dogs (Baby and BJ), Sanchez the fat cat and then there came the snake.  It always amazed me that Kevin and the girls never seemed fazed by these acts.  It was just their family.  As Kevin says, "Lillan's heart was bigger than her home."

This last time when her cancer returned, Lillian was realistic about her prognosis.  I never saw or heard fear.  She was BRAVE.  Each and every time that one chemo failed she was ready to try the next treatment option.  We talked about her bucket list.  The only thing she asked for out of the ordinary was a lobster dinner with champagne.  That we did in November.  Other than that Lillian was busy living her life.  One of the special qualities I got to see was her humor and honesty about herself and her life.  Lillian did have an open generous heart but she was also feisty. Besides fighting the cancer she fought for her family.   She knew she demanded a lot of Kevin and the girls.  She would say, "I am an Italian woman and often we yell."  Lillian had passion.  

As of late what I have come to believe is that even though Lillian gave so much to her neighbors, patients, and friends, we only got a small part of her.  It was those she fought the hardest for and with that got all of her.  Kevin in the end it was you she knew she could rely on.  I am honored and grateful that you had space in your heart to allow my friendship with Lillian to continue in her last days.  Thank you for sharing her.  It was a gift.

In my last conversation with Lillian we spoke about Ilana, Malia, and Imani.  She was at peace with herself and so very proud of her girls.  Ilana you are steadfast and gentle, Malia you love as deep as your are passionate and feisty, and Imani your heart is open to all who enters your life.  

Your mother loved many but always remember she loved the three of you the most.  She is with you, be brave. 

Good memory's

Shared by John Agosta on February 15, 2014
My condolences to you and your family. I went to Holy Family with Lillian and lived around the corner from her. Although life took us all in different directions, I'm sure I'm not alone when I say that our grade from Holy Family had a certain bond . Lillian's life to say the least was very impressive .Although I only had seen her a few years ago at a Holy Family reunion , see still had that charisma ,great Aura and always had a beautiful smile... She will be missed,but great memory's last forever.. Prayers go out...

Pantry Pride

Shared by Patti Monaco Connor on February 12, 2014

When we were about 16, Lillian, Billy Thompson and I worked as cashiers at Pantry Pride supermarket on Rockaway Parkway in Canarsie. What fun we had. Well, until one day, when the store was robbed. These guys made their way into the store after closing time, and I recall all of us laying face down on the floor in front of the frozen food case, while the manager was ordered to open the safe. Lillian was laying next to me, squeezing my hand and laughing hysterically. I told her to shut the heck up before they kill us. We felt like we were in a movie. Fortunately, all they wanted was the money, We laid there for what felt like forever, then realized that the robbers were gone. We spent the rest of the night at the 69th precinct looking at mug shots, but the guys were never caught. We were the stars of the neighborhood because we lived through the Pantry Pride robbery. Quite an adventure for 16yr olds!

On the Farm

Shared by Judith Heidel on February 12, 2014

Liliian visited the Idaho farm a few times. I wasn't there when she raised quite a buzz with her concern for the pot belly pig living out in its pen under the large walnut tree. Lillian's love for animals knew no bounds, and through her eyes, that poor pig was not being shown the love it deserved. Even though in farm terms, it was doing just fine, I'm sure it would have appreciated a little more loving care and posh surroundings. 

I don't think the farm men knew what rath hit them when she let all know that the little black pig was being mistreated. They still talk about it.

And I'm sorry I missed it first hand. I laugh whenever I think about it.

Thanks, Lillian, for always sticking up for the underdog....or pig. 

My Soul Mate

Shared by Kevin Heidel on February 12, 2014

Lillian touched every aspect of our lives. She guided me in my career, the raising our our girls, taught me how to cook, clean the house, essentially to take care of business.

Lillian was a very old soul, much older that me, yet we had always known we were soul mates, in the truest sense of the word. We honestly felt we've been connected over the millenia. She felt a deep connection to the Victorian Era with all its silver, lace, and flower gardens. Back then, I must have been her country gentleman because I feel deeply connected to our country house.

Our strongest sense of connection goes back to Greece, where we met 25 years ago. We liked to think we met for the first time 1000's of years ago in ancient Greece; we've been joined in spirit ever since.

And now, as the elder soul, she has begun her newest journey first. I know she will wait for me to join her in our next life time. 

But in the meantime, Lillian, I promise to make good use of my time left to take care of our family. It will be hard, we will face many difficulties. The path will be hazy. But we will get through it with the support of our family and friends.

A friend reminded me that in the Hawaiian language, there is no word for goodbye. There they say, "a hui hou", which means, "until we meet again."
So to you, Lillian, I don't say goodbye. Instead, I say,

                                                A Hui Hou

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