" 'You can't visit him easily,' " she recalls the priest saying.
Such choices aren't easy, especially when you're dealing simultaneously with stage 3 breast cancer. Chemo brain can adversely affect rational decision-making, Lynch says.
But surgery and chemicals cured the cancer, and she eventually regained her strength. And Lynch found the priest's prediction to be true.
One Saturday on a ride into Media, close to Springfield, Jay and Marie came across the big, brick Colonial. A for-sale sign beckoned. But neither Realtor nor homeowner was around. Undaunted, she urged Jay to sneak in the back door.
When Marie caught up with him, he was staring at that staircase. Marie stared, too. She had always wanted a majestic staircase, and Jay knew it.
"He said, 'Expletive, I just bought this house,' " she remembers.
The year was 1998, two years after Stephen died, and 15 years after the couple married. Marie, now in her early 60s and retired, met Jay at Shared Medical Systems, where they were IT specialists. Jay, now 58, eventually left SMS to form his own IT consulting business, which he later sold to Stoltenberg Consulting, for which he still works.
Today, the house is sanctuary for inhabitants human (numbers vary), canine (two large), avian (three canaries), and piscine (a betta, also known as a Siamese fighting fish).
At once stately and whimsical - with Ethan Allen furniture in the dining room, Elmo and Minnie Mouse stuffed figures in the sitting room - nobody takes much very seriously. Perhaps that's because they know it's pointless.
For example, Jay is traveling for work when a visitor arrives to see the Lynch home. To ensure his representation during the visit, Marie installs a life-size cardboard cutout of him in the kitchen. It's something to see, a stiff piece of paper standing in front of the wet bar, with its glass-fronted cherry cabinets and built-in wine cooler.
Marie and Jay have made more permanent changes to the kitchen, too, to ensure that family members come and stay, and it's not surprising that the changes were because of children.
Across from the wet bar is a 15-foot granite counter. It was 6 feet when the family moved in, but the Lynches lengthened it for two good reasons: Sophia and Robbie Verna, the children of Marie's brother, who live around the corner.
Christmas means cookie-baking, and Sophia and Robbie, now 14 and 17, are frequent visitors who always come to the Lynch home at holiday time for just that purpose. The original counter couldn't accommodate aunt, niece, nephew, cookie sheets, and cooling racks.
And the design?
"My son Jason was doodling on a napkin," Marie says. Now an architectural engineer, Jason drew the plans for the counter and the extended sunroom beyond the kitchen.
"I like children to play in the same area as the kitchen," Marie says. "The sunroom was the first thing we added on."
Two years ago, the Lynches used Sophia's input for the design of the front steps leading to the portico. Adding to children's self-worth is everything, Marie says.
In talking about Stephen's death, Marie makes sure to tell the good news from that night, as well: Jason was supposed to have been in the car, too.
Some people might have left that part out, but not her.
"There is positive in everything," she says
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