For the past two days I’ve shared details about Neil’s allo transplant recovery from hell.  Pulling his story together has caused me pause; I can’t imagine putting Pattie through something like this.  But things were looking up.  Hopefully the worst was behind them.

Neil’s wife, Pat, emailed me this update a few weeks later:

Hi Pat, 

Hope all is going well for you also. Neil is actually out of the hospital, but he has another upper respiratory infection.  We are trying to do all we can to avoid re-admission into the hospital. We are at the cancer center right now waiting for Neil to start his first immunoglobulin therapy to help fight off some of these recurring infections.  I am nervous but hopeful. He has started to gain some weight again; he weighted in at 118lbs today. He also has chronic graft vs host disease but this is a good thing because it destroys multiple myeloma cells, and at the last blood & urine test there was no M spike. Glad things are going well for Tom!  Give him my best.

My response:

Appreciate the update!  Please give Neil my best!  I’ll keep my fingers crossed; this must be so hard for you!  Pat

I didn’t hear from Pat for almost a month.  I assumed that’s because things were going well.  Then out of the blue, I received this unexpected and tragic email:

Neil Steven Roof, 57, followed God home into eternal rest from Hackensack UMC in New Jersey on February 24, 2014.

NeilHe was born Sept. 10, 1956 in Columbus Ohio to the late Bernice (Davidson) Roof & Norman T. Roof. Neil moved to New Jersey in his early teen years. Neil was a great and loving father who taught his daughters the value of never quitting. He was a hardworking, loyal man who was strong willed and refused to let multiple myeloma get the best of him during his eight year battle. Whenever asked “how are you ?” He always replied, GREAT!  Many will remember him most for his constant sense of humor & positive attitude.

Neil graduated from Palisades Park High school in 1975 and Lincoln Tech in Union 1977 and started his career in the HVAC field. He worked for Milor Service for 15 years, and then HG Clarke AC for approximately 15 years. Neil opened AC Plus Inc. in 1991 and continued to work until his last days. He was truly dedicated to his family and customers & always put them before himself.

In his free time before being diagnosed, Neil enjoyed skiing with friends and traveling.  Later he turned to golfing when able. Neil is predeceased by his parents and mother in-law, Mary Mirarchi. He leaves behind his beloved wife, friend & advocate of 22 years, Patricia Mirarchi-Roof, his two dearly loved daughters, Mikaela Rose & Moriah Grace Roof, two sisters, Janice Messinger and Robyn Hanscom.  Also surviving, his father-in law Michael Mirarchi and many other loving family members, friends & loyal customers.

Memorial donations may be made in Neil’s memory to the Hackensack UMC Foundation, 360 Essex Street, Suite 301, Hackensack NJ 07601.

As I wiped the tears from my eyes, my thoughts turned to Pat and all she and Neil had endured over the past year.  I’m sure you will join me in wishing Neil’s family our best during this difficult time.

Neil sounds like he was an amazing guy!  I often hear from families that have lost loved ones to multiple myeloma.  Even though I have never met Neil, I feel close to him.  Maybe it’s the fact we’re the same age.

I understand it’s hard after reading something like this, but we owe it to our friends, families and ourselves to make the most out of everyday–and to try to feel good and keep smiling!  Pat