Sometimes you meet someone and you just know that they are going to be successful! There is just something about them that screams “success!” And so it was when I met Katina Corrao. I met Katina in 1993 when I was a freshman at Cabrini College. Katina was a sophomore and already a leader at Cabrini. She was one of the facilitators of a weekly class which purpose was to help freshmen make the transition to college life. It was one of the most fun classes I had in school! I remember that Katina’s claim to fame was that she wanted to be, “The next Oprah Winfrey.” One thing EVERYONE remembers about Katina is that she is one of the funniest people you will ever meet. She has parlayed that sense of humor into a successful career as on of the hottest comics in NYC! I am so proud to know her and call her my friend!
While this podcast will trace Katina’s career trajectory, we will also explore a part of human existence that is much more spiritual than funny.
What happens to loved ones when they die? Where do they go? Most of us believe they go to a place called Heaven. But where is Heaven? Is it up, above outer space? If they are in Heaven, can they still see us and communicate with us? I think these are questions that all of us ask ourselves at different points in our lives. We usually ponder these questions when we are at the lowest moments in our lives, when we recently lost someone who we love very much. These are questions that I have struggled with for most of my life. While I wish I could say that I didn’t have occasional doubts, when it comes down to it, I believe that the people we are missing are actually right there in front of us. While we can’t physically see them or speak with them, I do believe that there is just a thin curtain that separates us from those who are in Heaven. I don’t believe that Heaven is a place above the Earth, I believe it is all around us. I have had personal experiences where I believe I was contacted by people I love, who have passed on. In some of my darkest hours I have had wonderful dreams where I was given guidance by someone who has gone before. One of those times was when I had a dream about a friend from college, Lisa Belano Vigliotta. Lisa and I were not close friends. In fact, I didn’t get to know her until the last few weeks of our senior year of college. During that time, I was really suffering with depression and anxiety. It was one of the lowest points of my life. Being the caring person she was, one day when we were the only two people in our college newsroom, Lisa listened as I told her about he hell I was going through. She assured me that things were going to get better. But most of all she listened. And though we did not stay in touch after graduation, I never forgot how kind she was. That is why when I picked up my mail on a mid-May afternoon in 2004, my knees buckled and my heart dropped into my stomach. I could not believe what I was reading, “Lisa was killed in a car accident on May 12, 2004.” She was the victim of a drunk driver. I felt sick for days!
I felt compelled to leave a message in the “online guestbook” that was put up for Lisa, by the funeral home that conducted her funeral. I had to let them know how sorry I was to hear about the death of such a wonderful soul. I can only imagine how much pain they had to be in.
A few days later, I was going through my email and saw a message from Katina. She told me that she was touched by my message to the Belano and Vigliotta families. Lisa was Katina’s best friend. Lisa’s death was a huge blow to her. Since that time, on the anniversary of Lisa’s death, I try to send a message to Katina letting her know that I still remember Lisa.
I have had many difficult periods in my life due to my lifelong suffering with depression, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder. It was during one of these rough patches that I believe Lisa came to me in a dream to tell me that death is OK and that Heaven, as she says in her own words, “is a wonderful place.” That dream was and is very comforting to me.
I hope you enjoy this podcast and the powerful message of the hope beyond the loss of a loved one!