Friday, February 17, 2012

A heartfelt surprise


DINNER DATE: The Morellis enjoy a special Valentine’s Day dinner on Ellison 9.


John and Stacey Morelli have had many meals together in the 15 years they’ve been married. There are the early morning breakfasts and the dinners at the kitchen table they share with their three boys. But this Valentine’s Day, John wanted to do something special for the love of his life. “I wanted to surprise her because she’s my best friend, and she’s always been right at my side,” he said.

These days “at his side” includes bedside in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU) on Ellison 9 where the 46-year-old has been waiting for a heart and liver transplant since Jan. 20. “When you look at people who are sick – whether it’s something like cancer or waiting for a transplant– it’s really difficult for them. But it’s also really difficult on the family and it affects them greatly. My wife is doing so much and it gets stressful. It’s tough for her,” he said.

So John enlisted the help of the CICU staff – including Ellen di Bonaventura, RD, clinical dietician, and Katherine Craig-Comin, LICSW, of the Social Service Department – to help him plan a Valentine’s Day to remember. First he ordered roses, a teddy bear and chocolates to be delivered to their Braintree home. Then the nursing staff transformed the CICU conference room into an intimate dinner date setting, complete with a white linen tablecloth, floral centerpiece and a dry erase board decorated with drawings of roses and hearts. John arranged for Legal Sea Foods, one of the couple’s favorite restaurants, to deliver dinner for the special evening.

It was a thank-you years in the making. John had open heart surgery when he was 29, and Stacey was a constant fixture in his hospital room. “We were only dating then, but she was by my bedside the whole time. Fourteen months later we were married. And now I’ve been in and out of the hospital for months, and she’s taken our boys, who are 12, 10 and 8, to every sporting event – and they play every sport in the world – and she’s taken care of every carpool and helps get all of the after-school homework done,” he said. “She just deserves this. She deserves more, but this is what I could do from here.”  


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