Dear Dr. Sweeney,
I don’t even have the words to adequately express the heartache I have right now.
You have died, suddenly and far too early, and the man who has loved and cared for every one of my children–living and dead–is gone.
You were so broken at Matthew’s funeral. You drove quite a while in that miserable weather on that cold December day, and though I don’t remember much, I remember how you looked.
You stood by the window in the reception area of my church and you looked like you’d lost your best friend.
You looked so distraught and so grief-stricken, people assumed you were my dad.
In many ways, you felt so much like him, and I know in that, I am not alone.
I remember Dr. Polko telling me that you’d have never found the vasa previa. I know she told you, and I told you, but I know–because you’re you– you always wondered if there wasn’t something you missed.
You told me often you would wish to your dying day you’d seen something, and my heart hurts, knowing the weight of so much heaviness in your job had to take its toll.
You were not the kind of doctor who could leave things at the office; you were the kind of doctor who became part of the family story for so many.
You’ve often told me that you never picked up a transducer without thinking of Matthew, and it is an honor that his life touched yours so much
I want you to know, though I imagine you did, how many of us thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the care and compassion you gave.
When I told you about Still Standing so many years ago, you were a cheerleader from the beginning, telling me that you were proud of me for turning our pain into something so good.
Through the years, I have come upon hundreds of women who had painful experiences in their losses–as if the loss of their children wasn’t hard enough–the care from their clinicians was traumatic, and it broke my heart that not everyone got a Dr. Sweeney.
You may not think you were anything special when it came to practicing, but trust me. You were.
Every time you told us our babies, “Looked like a million bucks,” it was like we’d just won the lottery. That you cried with us when we lost our littlest one so unexpectedly broke our hearts because we loved you so and knew how much you hurt with us.
I’ll never forget you telling me, “Lori, I am so sorry,” and then just hugging me and scooping John in to cry over and over about how unfair it was.
You held us and mourned with us more than even so many in our families did, and we are forever grateful you held each heartbeat you shared on that screen as sacred.
That you continued to try and reassure me that I’d done nothing wrong was a testament to your care for babies AND mamas.
You were the first person on this earth to touch our little Luke. You often told us how beautiful he was, and how you were so happy we had him.
It is because of your care and your concern that his safe entrance in this world was paved, and we’ve told Luke through the years that he had the best start ever being ‘pulled out’ by you.
I want you to know that we are so sad your sweet granddaughter will not get to know what a great grandfather she had.
It was obvious she was the best thing since sliced bread, and you adored her and your family.
My heart breaks for their loss, and we are all so thankful for their sacrifices through the years in sharing you with us.
I’ve always thought your job to be so tough–any of you who come in such contact with the miracle of life and the tragedy of death all too early.
You and your comrades in the field can’t help but take all of our stories on in your hearts and souls.
We live them individually, and they are gut-wrenching. You bore them all–each as if a personal loss and piercing to your heart.
It is no surprise to me that a heart attack stole you.
We were planning on bringing Luke up in two weeks to take you to lunch and now…it doesn’t even seem real that’s not ever going to happen.
Your departure from this earth has left such a hole.
While some may find it odd that the death of ‘a doctor’ is so hard on so many, those who have been privileged enough to be cared for by you know that this loss is like losing a cherished family member, a warrior who walked with us in our darkest days and rejoiced as pieces of redemption came back into our lives.
You were not just a doctor–you were a friend and safe place, and all-around amazing human.
I wish we could tell you that just one more time.
Paul Valery said, “A great man is one who leaves others at a loss when he is gone.”
Your death has left me, and so many at a loss…but as you’ve walked with us in our darkest days, I promise to honor you in legacy and deed, and to teach my son to do great things because great lengths on your part were made for him to be here.
We will miss you so.
I’m small, but scrappy! I have a fierce passion for my family, friends and life in general…I’m a military spouse who has battled infertility for over 13 years, as well as the loss of two babies gone too soon. I love to laugh, and am grateful for every second I celebrate with the ones I love. You can find me at my blog Lori Does Maryland or on Facebook Lori Mullins Ennis or on The Twitter here Lori M. Ennis