The most effective way to make sense of the death of Maureen Oleskiewicz, without losing reason, is to know that her donated heart will beat again, inside of a young girl.
Oleskiewicz's death at 28 years old, which happened after she choked on a hot dog before a Chicago Cubs game at Wrigley Field and went into cardiac arrest, is just too horrible to consider otherwise.
A popular language arts teacher at a middle school in Chicago's south suburbs — and a big Cubs fan — Oleskiewicz instituted spirit days at school, with students dressing up in the jerseys of their favorite teams. She and her younger brother, Martin Oleskiewicz, were ready to watch the Cubs from the bleachers Sunday when something went terribly wrong during a pregame snack.
Maureen suddenly slumped over and fell between rows of bleachers. Martin thought it was a joke at first. But by the time the national anthem was played, rescuers were performing CPR on his sister. The Chicago Tribune reports:
"There were no signs she was in distress. She just went down," said Martin, 23, shaking his head at the memory of standing by, helplessly, as a nurse in the crowd and EMTs performed chest compressions on his sister. "They were saying she didn't have a pulse. It felt hopeless."
He and the others providing aid didn't know she had choked on a hot dog and was unable to breathe. She was rushed to Illinois Masonic Hospital not far from the ballpark.
But it was too late for Maureen.
Machines kept her alive until Tuesday, long enough for Oleskiewicz to donate her organs. The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Oleskiewicz's mother, Margaret, "was told her daughter’s 'big, giving heart' will go to a 14-year-old girl in desperate need of one."
It might take a long time for that bit of positive news to comfort Oleskiewicz's family. They considered her to be in good health, otherwise.
"It's just unbelievable that she is not with us," Margaret Oleskiewicz said.
Cubs spokesman Julian Green sent the team's sympathies, via a statement, to the Oleskiewicz family:
“The Chicago Cubs are saddened to hear news of the untimely death of Maureen Oleskiewicz. We express our deepest sympathy to her family and friends. We will continue to keep her family in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time."
What else can you say?