In life, should you ever find a person whose ability to love shines so bright, consider yourself blessed. Desiree Eve Polakowski-Leibowitz of Wyckoff, New Jersey, formerly of Hasbrouck Heights and Mahwah, passed away peacefully on January 8th surrounded by her loving family. Wife of Scott Leibowitz and widow of Mark Polakowski, Desiree is survived by her devoted children Collin and Reese Polakowski and Madison Leibowitz. She was absolutely adored by her parents Mark and Denise Checki, her brother Mark John, her sister Danielle Incognito, her husband Luke, and their children Victoria, Julia, and Luke as well as her nephew Greyson and niece Sona. In addition to her aunts and uncles, Desiree made a lasting impact on her friends and their children, whom she loved as though they were family.
Born on February 15, 1977, Desiree was a star from the start. She had a way of walking into the room with a wistful smile. Her dark, curly hair perfected exemplified her dynamic personality, one that immediately put people at ease and made them want to be her friend. To know Desiree was a privilege but to see her as a mother was inspiring. She loved her babies, as she called them, with everything she had. She exuded kindness and unconditional love and when she looked at those she cared about, they felt that someone understood them in spite of everything. She always, without fail, saw the best in people.
Above all, Desiree was giving of herself. She was a rock to her family and friends, the kind of person who always knew the right thing to say and do. When you were with Desiree, you felt safe and loved. Next to “Mommy,” her favorite name was “Aunt Desi.” She doted on all the children in her life. Whether she was picking out the perfect outfit or writing the most meaningful card, Desiree showered you with love.
Desiree was fearless in her approach to life. When her husband Mark died suddenly in 2010, her world did fall apart. But though her heart was broken, her will to persevere and provide for her children was strong. Desiree went back to school, completing her Bachelor’s degree and moving on to graduate school. However, almost one year to the day that her husband passed, Desiree was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer. Though this diagnosis was devastating, she did not wallow and instead strengthened her resolve. As she underwent treatment, Desiree continued to pursue her education, earning a Master’s degree in School Psychology from Farleigh Dickinson.
During this time, she met and fell in love with Scott. He saw in her what we all did, a woman who was not defined by her illness but rather the qualities she used to live each day to the fullest. They were happy. The union of their families was seamless and together they built a wonderful life.
When discussing her life, Desiree always responded with the phrase “I am so blessed.” She was grateful for everything God gave her. Her optimism and passion were contagious as she looked at the world for what it could be. To watch her so eloquently live her life with such determination and hope made you want to be a better person. She was the greatest of gifts. Desiree was an inspiration to everyone she met and we are all better people for knowing her.
The viewing will be held at Vander Plaat Funeral Home 257 Godwin Ave in Wyckoff on Thursday January10th from 4-9 pm. The funeral mass will be held at St. Elizabeth’s Church 700 Wyckoff Ave. in Wyckoff on Friday Jan. 11th at 10am. In lieu of flowers, a GoFundMe page has been set up for Desiree’s children.