“Exactly why is she in Jersey City?” is the 2nd question everyone asks after inquiring about Emily’s health. Originally, Emily and Miles envisioned a cosmopolitan life in the Big Apple, living in a quaint neighborhood, shopping at bodegas, and strolling through Central Park. Then reality set in: treatment would be demanding, weather would be severe, and the cost of housing made LA seem like a bargain. Two bedrooms (to accommodate caretakers) with an elevator, indoor exercise center, and business services for Miles would run 5 figures a month. And most places wanted it all up front, sight unseen. Would there be adequate heat? Hot water? Bed bugs?
That’s when plans shifted to nearby Jersey City, where family was eager to help and EmTay could vouch for the local Marriott. The hotel manager was receptive to Emily’s needs and her story and they have provided a welcoming, affordable environment for recovery.
The Living Quarters:
Located on the top floor, Emily and Miles have a two-room suite that includes a separate bedroom and a spacious living room. Shelley and Kevin stocked the kitchen and dressing areas with baskets of food and supplies. EmTay’s godmother sent a blu-ray player, and discs arrive frequently from thoughtful supporters.
Two thermostats allow Emily (and her stuffed faux Ginny companion) to keep her quarters at a toasty 80 degrees while her internal systems adjust.
Miles’ desk swings around and transforms into a perfect dining table.
And the pièce de résistance is the Leather Throne. When Miles learned that patients who had a lung removed felt most comfortable in a recliner, he immediately went online and ordered this behemoth beauty.
Miles uses binoculars from his desk to watch construction of the World Trade Center on the southern tip of Manhattan, while Emily has this amazing view from both her bed and Leather Throne (with the lights changing colors nightly on the Empire State Building).
The Environment: The hotel staff has been great, delivering mail to the room twice daily, providing extra supplies, cleaning late in the afternoon so Emily can sleep in, and efficiently carting away A LOT of delivery boxes.
More packages for me?
Champagne and Godiva chocolates, anyone?
In the lobby, Emily can sip tea by the fireplace while Miles works and keeps an eye on her from the business center.
The Jersey City waterfront has a beautiful boardwalk for when the weather warms up. In the meantime, Emily logs in her miles walking the hotel’s hallway (seen here noting laps on the window with an erasable marker) and on the treadmill, while Miles and Rich make use of the weights and pool.
And just across the street is a three-story mall with 11 movie theaters, and clothing stores that you just don’t find in California. Emily selected these gems for Webmaster Annie’s June wedding.
The immediate neighborhood includes a drug store with a very helpful pharmacist, a Whole Foods-type grocery store, numerous restaurants that deliver, and a lively Irish pub. Plus a liquor store, in case you need something to keep your heating pad from falling off your shoulder.
The Crew: Foremost is Aunt Grace. When Michele’s older brother, Jim, left seminary life and married Grace, the O’Malley family got their very own Mother Teresa.
Grace has embraced Emily like one of her own and the TLC has been overflowing. She also houses her in-laws and gives up her car on the days of Emily’s medical appointments (walking three miles to work in the bitter cold).
Grace has not stopped cooking since the Californians arrived in Jersey City.
Grace keeps a notebook of Miles and Emily’s favorite dishes. Grandma Mercedes’ pot roast topped the list until Emily got a taste of Grace’s Chicken Pot Pie, and ate it straight from the pie plate.
Miles’ parents stay with Jim and Grace and make the brisk one mile walk to the hotel several times a day to deliver meals and supplies and to pick up laundry.
The arrangement helps reduce housing costs, gives Emily and Miles their privacy, and offers a great kitchen for preparing nutritious meals, like Michele’s homemade chicken noodle soup.
Rich delivering the soup: “I now know why people move to Florida.”
The daily visits mean continued well-intentioned advice from the in-laws and Emily is as receptive as always. When she discarded half of her sandwich from the popular 2nd Street Bakery (unofficial motto: Everything is better when stuffed into bread) during this “lite lunch” in the lobby, Michele lectured Emily on the importance of beefing up for radiation. Miles jumped to his wife’s defense: “So, Mom, when are you leaving? Michele: “When Emily is 150 lbs.” Emily, without missing a beat: “Miles, toss me a sausage roll.”
Emily has now turned a corner in her recovery. She is visibly stronger, breathing deeper, and just more of her old self. For the first time, she feels up to socializing and, naturally, Josh was her first visitor (how is he always in the same city and have they ever considered a restraining order?).
This past weekend, Emily ventured out and climbed two flights of stairs for Sunday family dinner with the cousins, who were all overjoyed to see her radiant smile and awed by her recovery.
Even Uncle Jim, whose drink of choice is usually a Pepsi, toasted the occasion with a flute of bubbly.
And that should just about answer the question of why Emily and Miles are living across the Hudson, just a stone’s throw from New York, in Jersey City 🙂