brightcove.createExperiences(); When Angela “Big Ang” Raiola died early Thursday morning, she was surrounded by loved ones – including her estranged husband Neil Murphy.
The larger-than-life Mob Wives star – known as the cast’s vivacious peacemaker – died after battling stage 4 lung and brain cancer, her rep announced in a statement. She was 55.
In heaven, costar and close friend Carla Facciolo says with a small laugh, “she’s probably serving martinis for everyone at the door.”
“She always wanted to just have fun, and that’s it,” she adds. “That’s how anyone can remember Ang.”
Her beloved family remained by her bedside through the night, and Murphy, 43, kept vigil, too.
“He’s part of her life,” Facciolo says. “He’s still her husband, you know? I don’t know if they got back together, but to Ang, when she throws somebody off her for a little bit, they’re always back in. She takes in people.”
The six-year marriage had its ups and downs: They appeared on Couple’s Therapy and Celebrity Wife Swap together, and during Tuesday’s episode of Dr. Oz Show, Raiola said she cut him loose because he “never stepped up to the plate” during her health crisis.
But Murphy, a sanitation worker, “was there the whole time” during her final hours, Facciolo says.
“I will always love you forever please watch over the grandkids I know you will,” he tweeted shortly after her death.
Raiola was rushed to the hospital Monday only days after being discharged, Facciolo says, explaining she was “excited” about starting immunotherapy after her chemotherapy failed to shrink her tumors.
Facciolo and the other Mob Wives visited Raiola in the hospital just last week, when she seemed happy and hopeful.
“That’s how we’re all going to remember her, a smile on her face, because she was just in a good place that day,” she says.
“She had us laughing, she was telling off the doctors, just being regular Ang. Someone would come in and she’d be like, ‘What do you want?’ ” she continues, laughing. “She was just being funny, and she was being the Ang that we know, so I was like, ‘Oh, this feels great,’ and then we turn around, she went home and then went right back in, and it was like, what the hell happened?”
Now, Raiola’s sister Janine Detore, daughter Raquel and son Anthony Donofrio are left to pick up the pieces.
“We’ve known each other for a very long time, and my prayers go out to her family,” Facciolo says. “We’re very close with all of them.”
Most tragically, Raiola leaves behind six grandchildren, some of whom lived with her and others who slept over at her Staten Island home often.
Raquel had just welcomed a newborn daughter, Anjolie Scotto, three weeks ago, and Grandma proudly shared a photo of herself beaming while clutching the infant on Instagram.
“She had so many grandkids down the road, and every year there’s a new kid coming. So it’s sad that she missed all of that,” Facciolo says. “Only one, Raquel’s oldest son, little Salvatore, he’s the one who is really going to remember her because the other babies are just babies. They’re so young.”