Dear E: An Open Letter to a Patient I Loved and Lost

Dear E,

I think I have been crying for five days. I know what you are saying “Come on kiddo! Smile….It ain’t THAT bad…” I see your smile. But it is THAT bad. You are gone. And no one knows why. All we know is that one second you were on this earth and the next you were taken from so many who loved you.

Can I say that to you now? I LOVED you. I LOVED your heart, your spirit, your kindness. I LOVED how deeply you cherished Lori and your amazing kids. I LOVED how you NEVER had a bad thing to say about anybody. But mostly I LOVED you for believing in me.

Remember that first day we met? I was fresh out of residency–not even thirty yet. You decided to give this “young lady doctor” a try. You believed in me as a doctor then and kept on believing in me for 15 years. We did good you and me.

Then, I left that practice and you immediately came along…Again, you believed in me as a doctor. “Oh no! I don’t care where you move to kiddo, you are not getting rid of me! I will be your patient for life!”

You let me give you shots in your feet. I was so nervous the first time. After all, you were a ROCKSTAR runner. The first time you told me about Broad Street I remember thinking “Who runs ten miles…in 70 minutes???” Well, YOU did. OVER and OVER again. I remember saying a silent prayer as I put that needle in your foot…“Please God, don’t let me screw up this man’s feet..he needs to run!”

When I started Team CMMD and decided to run Broad Street for the American Cancer Society and asked you to join us, you did not hesitate for a second. You responded to my email right away. “Anything you need Doc, I’m there!” Three times you ran that race with my team. You encouraged nervous folks to join us. You told everyone that we would be fine. That we could do it. You believed in us..as a team.

But then you….died. Dying by definition is a failure of health. As your doctor, that was the one thing I was tasked with: keeping you healthy.

I feel like I failed you.

I don’t know why you are gone EK. The world will never know. All I know is that I would do anything to see your smiling face again. The very last words you said to me were about the Philadelphia Magazine Health Hero Challenge. You told me not to sweat it…you believed in me. “You will always be MY hero,” you said.

This week, as I hung Chris’s coat up I thought about what it must be like for L to touch your clothes knowing you will never wear them. Then, I ran to him and hugged him. I told him I loved him. I thanked him for being a tremendous father, an eternal optimist and my partner in this crazy life. I told him I was sorry that I don’t make enough time for him. I held him and wouldn’t let go, even as he started to squirm. I made a mental recording of the squealing from the kitchen as Chris chased Hadley around. Normally, that noise would have aggravated me. Today, I cherish it.

You know me, I always have to have an action plan. So, here’s what I am going to do.

1. On May 1, 2016 I will take the BIGGEST, strongest, meanest Team CMMD down Broad Street in your honor with you in my heart.
2. This book I wrote that I was telling you about will not just be dedicated to Chris, but to another very special man in my life…YOU.
3. I will spend the next 5 months working my butt off to get in the best shape of my life. I will run Broad Street as fast as I can. I won’t be able to do it in 70 minutes, but I will do my absolute best and rally my team to do the same…for you.

Do you see what you have done for me? For fifteen years, you believed in me….as a doctor, as a runner, but mostly, as a friend.

EK, I am no hero. YOU are. I will miss you more than you know.

With Eternal Gratitude,

Your Young Lady Doctor.

First Broad Street Team  EK In the Back Row

First Broad Street Team
EK In the Back Row

EK and Me at Broad Street Run 2013

EK and Me at Broad Street Run 2013

Comments

  1. Susie says:

    Beautiful words for a beautiful friendship . I am so sorry for your loss

  2. Kim Lutschaunig says:

    Dr. Meyer, you are an inspiration! The hard part in grief is not facing it. Story telling is so important and healing. Your friend is always with you, just on the other side :)

  3. Vanessa says:

    EK is my husband’s uncle & this was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever read.. Brought a tear to my eye & a smile on my face all at once.. He will be greatly missed by all (I can see)..

  4. Cathi says:

    I am just so very sorry for your loss. This tribute however was just beautiful….I have no other words because nothing I say will take the pain away. I truly love you with all my heart.

  5. Meg Whitr Perritt says:

    Beautiful and so inspirational. My heart aches for you and his family. I canny wait to run the Broad Street for E. I will think of him during each and every training run.

  6. Jacqui Kokoszka says:

    This is absolutely beautiful and made me so very happy. My father is smiling as hes watching down on all of us. He had and gave so much love. This is just one example of how amazing he truly was. Thank you for this.

  7. annmarie says:

    Even though I don’t know you or EK, I am touched. This is such a beautiful tribute. It brings tears to my eyes – thank you for always being so open and honest. The world needs more people like you Dr Meyer. Bless you and EK’s family and loved ones.

  8. I just printed those pictures, and hung them above my dresser – they will serve as my motivation for the next 4 months. Thanks Doc. You’re f***ing AWESOME!

  9. Rebekah says:

    Sounds like a wonderful man and a wonderful friend. I’m so sorry for his loss

  10. Jackie Dale says:

    What beautiful words you have to say. I am a teacher of one of the children. Running the Broad Street in his honor would be a wonderful tribute.

  11. Jennie Dyke says:

    Christine, I understand you feel like you failed your friend and patient, but you did not! As the oldest of 4 sibs, and a nurse I operated for many years under the idea that if something bad happened “on my watch” some how I could have and should have done something to prevent it. Especially the death of patients (i worked in pediatrics for 16 years). Over the years I have finally come to the understanding that I am not in control. Sometimes bad things happen and it is not our fault. We didnt cause it. For our own health and for our family we need to be able to accept this, and know that our best is enough. We have to have the faith to let go of the bad that happens so that we can continue to do our best for those we love.

    When I was a young nurse I would cry with patients and their families often and said to an older nurse that I was sure I would get better at dealing with these things. She said if that ever happens leave nursing, because the tears just mean you care. I can honestly say I adore the patients I work with. If they need a hug its given, if they need to talk I listen, if they need a good cry, im right there with them. People can go to any doctor to treat them, but it is the love that makes the difference! God Blesses you for all of your efforts, passion and love!

  12. Marlene Matarazzo/Elaine Grose says:

    We are so sorry for your friends loss Christine. It sounds like you two had a special bond for many years. He must have been a very special man to make such an impact on not only you, but on so many people. Know that he will be cheering you and your team on from the best seat in the house as you run your races and as you work with your patients. Prayers are coming your way and also for the other family and friends of this wonderful man. Marlene and Elaine

  13. Mark says:

    Your a hero to a lot of us christine. I’ve been with u 15 years and I know there r times u think i dont listen to u but believe me i do.
    U r a great Dr never forget that.
    If u ever doubt that just pick up my records and ck my A1C. Thats because of u

  14. Jean Shaffer says:

    Dr Meyer, I was so deeply touched by your kind words about my brother Ed. We don t know how we will go on without seeing his smiling face, but hearing stories like yours from so many people showed a completely different but wonderful side of Ed. When I read your blog I immediately had to repost it so all my family and friends could read how Ed truly touched so many people. That is my only comfort right now….seeing , speaking and reading how many lives he changed. The pic of the two of you makes me smile and cry in the same instance. Thank you again for writing a blog about Ed….He was called away too soon and hopefully will continue to encourage us by his examples.

  15. Oh what a heartfelt & beautiful tribute to someone who made a difference in this world. I’m sure this is anguish that all doctors feel at some point in their lives. You did your best…God took care of the rest. I just shared with someone in an email tonight….my 89-yr old father went to his Heavenly Home in January of this year. His funeral was several days later…the director of the asst. living facility where he had lived, couldn’t pull herself together enough to come to the funeral. I think that’s such a sweet tribute to the difference my dad made in her life. We love, we lose and the world goes on. I’m sure he’s proud of all you are, and all you did, and are doing, to make a difference in the world too. I am very moved by this beautiful post.

  16. Kim Kersten says:

    Heartfelt stories makes a difference in many lives. It points out how we have to embrace the moment because we never know what tomorrow will bring. “Write on” to passion.

  17. L Haller says:

    I am “just a patient” who happened to have worked in a hospital for 13 years, and I have heard on more than one occasion many health care professionals lamenting over what they could have, should have, possibly have done more than…, ultimately blaming themselves when the patient dies. We all die. We all come and go through the same door. Our only expectation is that you do the best you can with what you have available at the time. You may be able to hold off death for awhile, but you can’t prevent it from completing the cycle of life. Your patients are lucky to have a doctor who lives and heals with a passion for life. Best wishes on your next run!

  18. Dellane R Develin says:

    I’ve known Ed & Lori for as long as they’ve lived in my development & I’m going on 18 years. These are not good people but GREAT people & I’m truly saddened that I didn’t make the connection earlier. Thank you Christine for your honesty in your story, I just know that your book will help me as I’m sure you’ve already done for others.

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