In mid-December, Rory Batdorf-Dwyer tested positive for COVID-19.

The Keene native was vaccinated with the one-dose Johnson & Johnson shot but hadn’t been boosted.

“When she was sick, we were like ‘OK, you’ve got COVID, weather it out and you’ll be fine’,” said her mom, Carelle Dwyer. “And she wasn’t.”

Rory was hospitalized on Christmas Eve, having developed viral and bacterial pneumonia as severe complications from COVID-19.

By Christmas, the 32-year-old was gone.

“She had some issues,” Carelle said, noting Rory was a smoker. “But mind you, if she hadn’t gotten COVID, she would’ve been fine. That’s what did her in. She didn’t have anything life threatening. The COVID was life threatening.”

Rory left behind her three sons — Jason Canavan-Dwyer, 16, Joel LeBrie, 11, and Julian Harris-Dwyer, 2 — along with her mother, her father, Michael Dwyer, and her brothers, Seamus and Shaun Batdorf-Dwyer.

In an interview with The Sentinel at her old apartment on Court Street, her family described Rory as altruistic.

That translated into her work. She held various jobs over the years, but most recently held positions at Phoenix House New England — a behavioral health and substance-use disorder provider that closed recently in the area — and at Cheshire Medical Center in Keene.

“That’s made her the happiest out of anything I’d seen in our whole lives,” said Seamus, 30. “She found her niche in life with trying to help people. And if you don’t have compassion, then what’s the point?”

Only two years apart, Seamus said he and Rory were attached at the hip.

Even doing nothing with Rory felt like an adventure.

“We thought we were epic,” Seamus recalled with a laugh. “It could just be me and her and [the kids] in this living room, and we could just be like blasting music or cooking in the kitchen or cleaning — we could be doing anything, and we’d be laughing hysterically.”

Jason, Rory’s eldest son, had a similar experience with his mom.

But his favorite memories were when she would take him and his brothers on a road trip.

“Like every weekend pretty much, at least in the summer, we’d always go out and do stuff ... We would just like look up a place online like in Mass. or something that seemed fun, and we would go do it,” Jason said.

For her parents, it was the little things about Rory that they remember most fondly.

Her father said she would often call him around midnight while she was out at a bar with friends so that he could help her figure out a trivia question.

“Her and her friends [would be] having an argument about a movie or a book,” Michael said. “ ‘Dad, what is the answer to this?’”

Rory also used to call her parents to ask them to come over so that she could tell them a joke. Once they got there, Carelle said she’d be laughing so hard she could barely get through the punchline.

Carelle added that since her daughter’s death, several people she didn’t know well have reached out, saying how close they were to Rory.

“That’s just the way she was,” Carelle said. “She made everyone feel special.”

And, absent that energy, life has proved hard without her.

This is only exacerbated by the ongoing pandemic, which her parents said they wished people would take more seriously.

“Get your vaccine. Wear your f---ing mask,” said Carelle, a registered nurse at Langdon Place of Keene. “I get so angry now.”

But ultimately, what they want is Rory.

“I feel like she needs to be here more than I do. It’s not right that she’s not,” Michael said. “And I get so tired of people [saying] ... she’s in a better place. And I do believe she’s in a better place, and I don’t care ... I want her back. I miss her.”

Olivia Belanger can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1439, or Follow her on Twitter @OBelangerKS.

Olivia Belanger is the health reporter for The Sentinel, covering issues from the opioid crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic to mental health services in the region. A N.H. native, she joined The Sentinel team in August 2019.