After Covid Upended a Dying Woman’s Rome Dream, Her Twin Stepped In

The most cancers that was first detected in her breasts had unfold to her bones, lungs and liver. The pandemic had shut down journey almost all over the place.

But Lisa Maksym, 57, of Phoenix, refused to relinquish her dream of taking her son and daughter to Rome, the place she had spent a 12 months in 1991 and had change into enamored to the purpose of obsession with town’s meals, tradition and other people.

Last summer season, she and her twin sister, Camille Maksym-Schorr, determined they might return to Rome in May 2021, hoping journey restrictions can be lifted by then. They rented a home on the Amalfi Coast, the place the sisters and their households would meet with Ms. Maksym’s previous roommate and the chums that they had made in Italy a long time in the past.

Then, in November, Ms. Maksym-Schorr examined constructive for the coronavirus. The twins had been residing collectively, and Ms. Maksym-Schorr stayed in her bed room to maintain from infecting her sister. Two weeks later, Ms. Maksym texted her sister from her room and advised her she had additionally examined constructive for the virus.

“I wailed,” Ms. Maksym-Schorr stated. “I literally wailed.”

Ms. Maksym instantly went to a hospital, the place she was given steroids and was monitored rigorously. Her physician stated she needed to cease the promising experimental chemotherapy therapy that had begun to shrink among the most cancers cells.

Both sisters recovered from the virus.

“The cancer,” Ms. Maksym-Schorr stated, “got a chance to come back with a vengeance.”

In March, Ms. Maksym’s physician advised her she had three months to reside.

Ms. Maksym was working in advertising in Scottsdale, Ariz., in 1990 when she determined to maneuver to Rome. The plan was to spend at the very least a couple of months in a new nation, study the language and perhaps discover a job.

She moved in with Brenda Barton, a pal she had met in 1982 at Arizona State University. Ms. Barton had lately married an Italian man, Gian Paolo, and the newlyweds invited Ms. Maksym to stick with them of their small, ground-floor condo.

Ms. Maksym slowly discovered Italian and scraped out a small residing educating English to Italian businessmen. She used Gian Paolo’s beat-up Motorino scooter to get to her educating assignments.

“I’d never seen a city as beautiful in my life as that city,” Ms. Maksym stated. “When you think of the ancient ruins. I would drive by them and think, ‘Here I am, circling the Colosseum, and this is my ride to work.’ I couldn’t believe that was my job.”

Ms. Maksym would come again from her assignments, generally sweaty and soiled from dragging the Motorino, which was liable to breaking down, up a road. The roommates often ended the day consuming wine and consuming pasta.

“She was unaware of how drop-dead gorgeous she was,” Ms. Barton recalled. “The Italian boys would follow her down the street, asking for her telephone number, and she would just laugh and sweetly put them off.”

Credit…Courtesy of Maksym household

In 1991, her twin sister came over her for the summer season. The two of them traveled round Italy, dated Italian males and explored Rome on the Motorino.

“It was this magical, wonderful time in our lives,” Ms. Maksym-Schorr stated. “We were in our 20s. We were in our prime.”

After a 12 months in Rome, Ms. Maksym returned to Arizona and started working for the state’s Office of Tourism.

She went into promoting, bought married and had a son, Sam, in 2000. In 2002, her daughter, Sophia, was born.

Ms. Maksym and her husband finally divorced however stayed buddies.

Her love for Rome remained fixed.

“Sometimes, I just think I’m too crazy about it,” Ms. Maksym stated.

She began a flower enterprise together with her twin and their older sister that they referred to as Sorella — Italian for sister. The twins, who’ve three different sisters, thought of opening a restaurant with the identical identify.

When Ms. Maksym bought into an accident and wrecked her Honda Pilot, she and Ms. Maksym-Schorr purchased a gentle inexperienced, retro-style Fiat 500 with the license plate Roma91.

In 2016, Ms. Maksym discovered she had breast most cancers. She had a double mastectomy, and after a number of radiation and chemotherapy therapies, she felt properly sufficient to journey once more. She went to Hawaii with Ms. Maksym-Schorr. In 2018, the twins returned to Rome with their father.

Then they started planning a journey to town with their kids.

“This was going to be a gift to my two girls and her two children,” Ms. Maksym-Schorr stated.

But final 12 months, the virus proved almost debilitating. Both ladies had pneumonia, and Ms. Maksym went with out most cancers therapies for 2 months. During that point, the illness unfold to her mind.

The twins thought of simplifying the journey — as a substitute of a entire reunion, the 2 of them would go on their very own and spend a few days collectively in Italy. But even that felt like an excessive amount of of an ordeal for Ms. Maksym, who now makes use of a wheelchair.

“This isn’t going to happen,” Ms. Maksym-Schorr stated.

Ms. Maksym-Schorr stated she remained decided to seek out a approach for her sister to expertise Rome once more.

On April 17, she and her daughters sneaked into Ms. Maksym’s room as Ms. Maksym rested in the lounge.

They put up an infinite poster of St. Peter’s Basilica and pictures of the twins once they have been younger.

They taped photos of Ms. Maksym on the Motorino, pictures of the twins with their Italian boyfriends, and do-it-yourself indicators from buddies that they had not seen in months. One pal in Rome despatched a image of a signal that learn “Roma loves Lisa.”

On the ceiling, Ms. Maksym-Schorr projected her sister’s favourite film, “Roman Holiday.”

Ms. Maksym-Schorr then wheeled her sister into the bed room because the music “Vattene Amore,” by the Italian singer Amedeo Minghi, blared by way of audio system.

Ms. Maksym gasped, after which cried and stroked the photographs gently.

“I was amazed,” she stated, remembering the shock. “It was just so beautiful.”

Ms. Maksym goes to mattress at evening wanting on the pictures, she stated, however she can’t cease herself from believing she is going to return to Italy earlier than she dies.

“It’s hard enough for me to move from one room to the next,” she stated. “But there is a part of me that never wants to give up.”

On May 10, when the twins flip 58, they plan to eat pasta carbonara and tiramisù and watch “Roman Holiday.”

In her will, Ms. Maksym has left directions for her kids to go to Rome, together with cash for them to journey there. Ms. Maksym stated she wished a portion of her ashes scattered someplace within the metropolis, probably within the Tiber River.

Ms. Maksym-Schorr stated she would deliver one of many wind chimes that dangle exterior her sister’s window and place it on a tree within the Amalfi Coast.

“I tell you,” Ms. Maksym stated. “This trip will still happen.”

April 30: Lisa Maksym died at a hospice middle on Wednesday afternoon. Her sister Camille Maksym-Schorr stated she and Ms. Maksym’s two kids, Sam and Sophia Schmidt, have been together with her. Ms. Maksym held a pillow with the phrase “Roma” hand-embroidered on it.

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