This is a letter to Leah and to everyone else who may have ever crossed paths with her. This is also my therapy.
I haven’t fully accepted that Leah is gone. I cannot even begin to make sense of it. This must be a nightmare and I’m going to wake up and all will be better. Although I only met her at the start of residency, our friendship was undeniable. She was my best and closest friend I had in this program. At times I felt like she was my other half because of our similarities and connection. I can recall the first time I ever met Leah through a get together at my apartment, prior to the start of orientation. I had never met her in person before, but when I opened the door to let her in, she immediately gave me a warm hug. Our friendship and her love was instant. Leah was warm, bubbly, and always had a kind thing to say to everyone. After any bad day or shift, she took time to check in on me or send me a funny note or message to cheer me up. Leah’s heart was full of passion and love.
Leah was also full of life. In her short amount of time with us, it was evident that she was a great doctor. She studied hard and worked hard. She took pride in what she did and cared deeply for her patients. She would go out of her way to teach the students and interns. She was proud of our program and proud to be a part of it. But she also had so many goals she wanted to accomplish in life: She wanted to finish residency, get married and have children. Leah will never have the chance to do any of these things and my heart breaks for her. She was taken away from us too soon.
What do we do now? I’ve never lost someone who was so young and so unexpectedly. I am an ER doc, I deal with death of all ages all the time. But this is different. This is Leah. The world lost a great person. She had so much love to give this world. All we can do now is live for Leah. Maybe this will make us more empathetic towards our patients. Maybe now you will call your friend you haven’t made time for ages and ask if they’re doing okay. Call your parents and tell them you love them. Don’t hold grudges. Life’s too short. At the last conference when the discussion of finding your “niche” in emergency medicine came up, Leah turned to me and said “Ala, I don’t have a niche in emergency medicine. I want my niche to be life. I just want to be good at life”. Leah lived her life to the fullest. I love you, Leah.