Title: Of Tears & Joy
Feedback address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Date in Calendar: 22 December 2008
Word Count: 8903
Summary: It’s Christmas in the ER. Lives thrown in the balance, Kerry helps two young girls, and faces her first Christmas after Sandy’s death.
Warnings: Friendship to more?
Archive: Shatterstorm Productions: FSAC: Dead of Winter 08, Passion & Perfection, Celtic-Dragon’s Lair: Fanfiction. Anyone else, ask.
Link to: http://celtic-dragon.ca/fanfic.html
Website: Celtic-Dragon’s Lair: Fanfiction
Advertisement: Part of the FSAC:DW08
Disclaimer: “ER”, the characters and situations depicted are the property of Warner Bros. Television, Amblin Entertainment, Constant C Productions, NBC, etc. They are borrowed without permission, but without the intent of infringement. This site is in no way affiliated with "ER", NBC, or any representatives of the actors. This site contains stories between two mature, consenting adult females.
Lights flashed and a siren called out past Abby as she headed under the arch of Cook County General towards the Emergency entrance. It was still overcast out but expecting to snow later. As she headed into the Ambulance bay, a rig was just pulling up. Kerry Weaver and Chuny Marquez stood in the bay awaiting the bullet on the patient emerging with the EMTs. Doris jumped out of the ambulance first, with her hands on the gurney.
“Altercation at a toy store. Blunt trauma to the head with superficial lacerations to the arms. No LOC at the scene, just a bit dazed, but more pissed off. Vitals stable. No known allergies.”
“What’s your name, sir?” Kerry asked as she walked alongside the gurney into the emergency department.
Kerry held a small flashlight in her hand and shone it at the man’s eyes. “Pupils equal and reactive to light.” She held up her index finger in front of his face. “Sir, can you follow my fingers?” He did so as she moved her finger from left to right and upwards to downwards. Kerry placed her hands in his. “Could you squeeze my hands, sir?”
“Mr. Kelly, what happened?” Abby asked the patient.
“That damned woman stole the last Dancing Elmo. I went to get it off the shelf for my kid for a Christmas present and she pushed me aside and grabbed it out of my hands.”
“How did you get injured?”
“We got into a fight. She scratched the hell out of me. I pushed her against the shelves and then the damned rent-a-cops showed up.” Mr. Kelly tried to sit up.
“Lie back and stay still, Mr. Kelly.” Abby told him, as she followed along.
“How did your head get hurt?” Kerry asked as she, Abby, Chuny and the EMTs entered Exam 1 and transferred the patient to the hospital stretcher. Once he was settled the EMTs took off for another call.
“I tried again to get the toy. And she pushed me again. I lost my balance. Must have hit my head on one of the shelves when I fell. Can’t you just fix me up so I can get outta here? I need to see if any more of the shops are open.”
Assessing the situation that he wasn’t going to go into immediate danger, Abby got Kerry’s attention. “Kerry, are you okay for a couple minutes? I’m just going to put my coat in the lounge.”
“Yeah. We’re fine. Oh, if you see Carter, tell him the labs are back on his patient in Exam 3. He needs to call oncology.” Abby nodded as she left the exam room headed for the lounge. Kerry had already turned back to her patient as she assessed his status. “Chuny, check his vitals again and set me up with a suture tray. Get a CBC, Chem-7 and page radiology for a CT scan. Mr. Kelly, we’re going to get you patched up, but you won’t be going anywhere for a little while.”
“Damn. My wife is going to kill me.”
“Why’s that?” Kerry looked up just as Chuny finished drawing the blood work and headed out of the room.
“She sent me out to run one errand. And I was just supposed to get that. But I wanted to get the toy for my kid. Now I’m stuck in the hospital, getting stitches in my head.” Mr. Kelly sighed, sounding resigned.
“How old is your child?”
“I’ve got two. But this was for my son. He’s two and a half.”
“That can be a trying age.”
“Tell me about it. All he seems to talk about is Elmo this and Elmo that. I thought if I could get him that toy, he’d have a good Christmas Day. I should have gotten out earlier to get it. I always wait til the last minute, though. You’d think I’d learn.”
Abby pushed the door open, “Kerry, you okay here? We’ve got an multiple MVA coming in 10 minutes out.”
“Four; two adults, two children. There was a head-on collision at the Canal & Roosevelt intersection. Sedan versus Minivan. We’re getting the minivan.”
“What about the people in the sedan?”
“Died on site. Vehicle flipped over and hit a pole.”
“Okay, grab Dr. Lewis and Dr. Kovac.”
“Done.” Abby left exam room and turned the corner, while Kerry continued to work on Mr. Kelly.
“That sounds bad. Shouldn’t you be going over there?”
“They’ve got it covered. If they need me, they know how to find me. Well, we’ll get these stitches in and get the x-rays. You’ll go up for a CT scan and if it’s looking good, you should be okay. I want to monitor your vitals for a little while until that’s done, just to make sure there’s no further damage.” Kerry sat down on the stool and pulled over the suture tray. “I’m just going to numb the skin on you’re head before I start the stitching. You’ll feel a slight sting when the needle goes in but it will go away in a couple minutes.”
“Yeah. Merry freakin’ Christmas to me.”
Kerry looked up as Chuny came back into the room.
“Dr. Weaver, radiology says they’re backed up. They’ll be down as soon as they can.”
“More like they’re having their Christmas party and can’t be bothered come away for it. Tell them to get their asses down here if they want a job tomorrow.” Kerry turned her attention to her patient. “Mr. Kelly, aside from the throbbing from the head wound, do you have a headache?”
“Yeah, I do. Can you actually do that? I mean, fire them.” Mr. Kelly asked.
With a smile, Kerry responded, “I’m the boss. I can do what I want. Besides, I saw them making the preparations for the party earlier. Now, how’s you’re head? Feeling numb here, yet?” At the patient’s nod, Kerry began the sutures. After a few minutes of suturing the head laceration and cleaning and dressing the wound, Kerry checked out the lacerations on his arms. “A few steri-strips on here and you’ll be as good as new. Be sure to keep those clean and dry. I’m going to see if I can get the radiology techs to come down a bit sooner. Chuny, could you get Mr. Kelly some Ibuprofen for his headache.”
“Sure thing, Doctor Weaver.”
“Thank you, doctor.”
“You’re welcome. Sit still. Someone will be back to see you shortly.” Kerry stood up and grabbed her crutch and made her way out of the room, disposing of her gloves along the way. She spotted Abby coming out of Trauma 1 headed for the triage desk.
“Everything okay, Abby?”
“Rooms are ready. Just waiting on the patients. Just catching a quick breather before all hell breaks loose.” As the two women walked out towards the ambulance bay, they gathered a couple trauma gowns and gloves as they went. Abby looked at Kerry with a thoughtful gaze. “I thought you were off tonight?”
“Sandy’s parents have Henry for Christmas. I didn’t want to stay at home on my own.” There was a sadness and melancholy in her voice that Abby picked up on.
“Oh, God, Kerry. I’m sorry. I’d forgotten that this was your first Christmas without her.” Abby rubbed her hands up and down to try to warm herself up, in the cold and windy December air. The silence between the two women stretched out. Not quite uncomfortably so, but there all the same. Just before the three ambulances rolled up, Abby spoke quietly. “Kerry, if you want to talk later, come get me, okay? We’ll grab a coffee or something.”
A very quiet “Thank you” could be heard among the din of the sirens. Doctors Lewis and Kovac joined them at the bay doors as the ambulances came to a stop. The parents arrived in two separate ambulances and the two children in the third.
Dr. Kovac grabbed the first patient, the father. The EMT was pushing on the ambu-bag, ventilating the young man. “Driver, male, 32, Vitals: BP 92/46, Pulse tachy at 130, Respirations wet and strider. GCS 5. Loss of consciousness at the scene, hasn’t regained. Second bag of saline is in. Facial lacs from broken windshield, possible fractures. He’s got a potential chest trauma. Non-responsive to painful stimuli. ID has his name as Patrick Grady.”
“All right, let’s get him in and start working on him. I want ABG, CBC, Chem12, Lytes, Creatinine, Glucose, chest, abdominal and facial CTs. Type and cross for 4 units. Get surgery down here, now! We need to intubate him. His sats are dropping.” He headed for Trauma One with that patient.
Susan Lewis and Gregg Pratt drew the second patient, the mother, getting the bullet on her as they wheeled her through the ER into Trauma Two. When they cut the mother’s shirt up the front, she had already large bruising covering most of her torso, where the airbag impacted. Susan again called for a trauma panel as she, Pratt, Haleh, and Malik went to work on the mother.
As the third rig unloaded, Kerry and Abby approached, as a stretcher was unloaded with the paramedics. A young girl lay there, crying for her mother. The paramedics were trying to hold an oxygen mask to the girl’s face without a lot of success.
“Eight year old, strapped into the back seat. Just a few simple lacerations to her face from the broken glass, no LOC, but she did start to hyperventilate in the rig as we were coming. Her sister, here, seemed to come out of it okay, but she hasn’t said a word since we picked them up. She’s four years old, according to her sister. She was behind the father and seemed to escape much in the way of injury.” The younger of the two girls was hugging a stuffed toy tight to her chest as tears rolled down her cheeks.
Abby grabbed the stretcher with the older of the two children while Kerry got the second. They wheeled them into the emergency department into the paediatric exam rooms and proceeded to examine the two girls. Lily joined Abby while Chuny returned to working with Kerry.
Kerry worked on the younger girl, assessing her head to toe. Gently she headed back to the top of the stretcher to look into the girl’s face. “Hi, sweetie. My name is Kerry. I’m going to be your doctor today. What’s your name?” After getting no response, Kerry asked the girl if she could her. It took a moment of smiling at her, speaking with her in low tones and holding the girl’s hand to reassure the girl that she was safe, that she responded with a small nod. Kerry proceeded to assess for signs of shock in the little girl. “Can you tell me where it hurts, sweetie?” The little one shook her head, as much as she could with a neck collar on. “I know this seems very scary right now. I need to look at your neck for a moment to see if it’s hurt. Okay?” A small nod was the only response. Kerry loosened the neck brace and slid her hands along the girl’s head and neck, feeling for any abnormalities. “Can you turn your neck to the side for me?” The girl did so. “And the other side.” Again, the girl followed Kerry’s directions. “Does that hurt?” A shake of her head. Kerry put her finger up and asked the girl to follow the movements of her finger. “I need to shine a little light in your eyes for a couple seconds. “Pupils equal and reactive to light. Okay, sweetie. I’m going to take off this collar. I need you to be as still as you can for a minute.” Once the collar was off, Kerry settled her on the bed.
“Can you tell me your name now?”
“That’s a very pretty name. What’s your toy’s name?” Kerry asked her.
“That’s a really good name. I bet he gives you lots of cuddles, doesn’t he?” Kerry was smiling at the little girl.
Caitie shook her head. “No, silly. I give him cuddles.”
“Ahhh. Well, that’s good, isn’t it? Caitie, this nurse here, her name is Chuny. She’s got to take some bloodwork from you, for me, okay?”
Caitie furiously shook her head, and held tighter to her toy. “No blood. No blood.”
“Caitie, it’s only going to hurt just for a little bit then it goes away.”
“Nooooo,” she cried. “It hurts.”
“Sweetie, have you had to have needles before?” A nod. “Big needles?” Another nod.
Kerry turned to Chuny. “Could you get me a couple vaccutainers and small butterfly needles, please?” After Chuny nodded and headed out the door, Kerry turned her attention back to the girl.
“Caitie, how come you had to have needles before?”
“Who’s Alyssa? Your sister?” A nod. “Sweetie, do you know what makes your sister sick?”
The young girl shrugged her shoulders. “Lu…Luk…”
“Leukemia?” A nod. Chuny came back into the room with the supplies Kerry’d asked for.
“Chuny, could you go next door and tell Abby that their patient has Leukemia. I don’t know what type or stage she’s in. See if Luka or Susan can get the information from one of the parents.” Chuny left the room again.
“Okay, Caitie. See these needles. This is what we’re going to draw your blood with. See how small they are?” The young girl nodded.
“It’s going to hurt.”
“Just for a moment,” Kerry nodded. “Can I try?” A nod from the girl. “Okay, Caitie. I want you to put your other arm around Mr. Cuddles and give him a big hug for me.”
“How old are you, Caitie?”
“And you’re going to school in a few months. Are you excited?”
“Mmmhmmm. I can do my alphabet and count numbers. I can read a little. Alyssa and Mommy showed me how.”
“That sounds like you’re a really smart girl.”
“Like Alyssa. She’s the smartest in her class.” Caitie had a big smile on her face.
Kerry returned the smile then held up the full tube of blood to the girl, and put some pressure on a bit of gauze to her arm. “See, we’re all done.”
“Here. You push on this for a minute and I’ll get you a band-aid.” Kerry came back from the other side of the room with a container with different colourfully printed band-aids. “Which one would you like?”
“Tigger!” The young girl pointed out the one she liked best and Kerry placed it on her arm. Then she felt down the girl’s torso and legs, checking for any other possible injuries. Finding none, she put the rails of the stretcher up as Chuny came back in the room.
“Sweetie, I have to go check on your sister and your parents.”
“Please don’t go.”
“I’ll be back shortly okay.”
“I’m scared.” Caitie’s voice was small and timid.
“I know you are, sweetie. Chuny is going to stay with you until I get back. You hold onto Mr. Cuddles there and I’ll be back as soon as I can. You’re a brave little girl.” The young girl nodded they Kerry left the room.
Kerry headed first to check on Abby and her young charge. Abby had put the finishing touches on the stitches and steri-strips to the girls face and hands. Nothing was broken. Everything was under control, so Kerry headed towards the two trauma rooms: first the mother. From her immediate observations, Kerry could determine that Mrs. Grady was intubated and she had multiple lines of saline and blood running into her. Pratt was packing up the portable crash cart supplies, as they were about to move the stretcher. Susan came out ahead of the stretcher as they pushed it towards the service elevators.
“Dr. Dubenko is sending her up to the OR. She’s got a perforated liver and spleen and she’s bleeding out into the abdomen. She’s got six litres of type specific on board, 4 litres out in the selsaver. She crashed once in there but she’s stable at the moment. Urine output is only 100cc.” Susan continued to give Kerry the rundown on her patient.
“Was she conscious at all?”
“Briefly, until we had to intubate her. Sorry I wasn’t able to get the information on her daughter’s leukemia.”
“What about the father?”
“Luka’s still working on him, but it’s not looking good. X-rays showed a fractured spinal column. They’re trying to stabilize him enough to get him up to have an MRI.”
“Thanks. I’ll give Oncology a call to come down and assess Alyssa Grady.” Kerry left, heading towards the admit desk. Kerry rounded the desk and perched herself on a chair in front of one of the computers, and went to check on some Mr. Kelly’s lab work. Once the results came up, she printed them off and attached them to his chart, before heading back in to see him.
“Mr. Kelly, you’re labs came back fine, we’re still waiting on radiology. Vitals look good. Has your headache eased up any?”
“Yeah, thanks. Hey, are there any magazines around? I’m going nuts here sitting with nothing to occupy my time with.”
“I’ll check with the nurses to see if they can come up with anything.”
Kerry headed out the doors and over to the paediatric exam rooms where her patient and Abby’s patient were. She quickly checked with Abby and her young charge before heading back in with Caitie.
“Hey, sweetie, how are you?” Kerry walked up to the stretcher and checked the girl’s status.
“I’m scared. Where’s my Mommy?” Caitie was hugging her stuffed toy close to her chest.
“Caitie, she was hurt very badly. So the doctors have taken her up to have surgery.”
“Is she going to die?” The saddened look on the young girl’s face nearly broke her heart.
Kerry wrapped her arms around the little girl. “I don’t know, sweetie. The doctors are going to do their best to help her. She’s lost a lot of blood. But she might.” Kerry pulled slightly away from her before she spoke again. “Your sister is doing better. Would you like to go in and stay with her?”
“I can?” Caitie’s little face brightened at that.
“Sure thing.” Kerry lifted the young girl off the stretcher and down to the floor. Caitie hugged her stuffed toy to her and followed alongside Kerry over to where her sister was. “Do you like the muppets?” Kerry got an enthusiastic nod from Caitie. “How about I see if we can get a TV and video player in here for you and Alyssa. Would you like that?”
“Yes, please.” Kerry and Caitie walked into the room where Lily had been sitting with Alyssa.
“Hi, Lily. This is Alyssa’s sister, Caitie. She’s going to stay with her for a while. I’m going to bring in a video for them to watch, distract them for a while. Where’s Abby?”
“She went to check on the oncology consult.”
“Thanks. Could you stay with the girls for a little while?”
“Sure thing, Doctor Weaver,” Lily spoke as she gathered an extra chair for Caitie to sit next to her sister. As Kerry left, she heard Caitie tell her sister about her Tigger bandage. Kerry smiled as she headed for the triage desk, where Abby was sitting and talking on the phone.
“I don’t know. That’s why I asked for the consult. Both parents are not available to get the information from…I’m sending you her bloodwork. Just get here as soon as you can, please?” Abby hung up the phone and sighed heavily, as she ran her hands through her hair.
“Uhmmm?” Abby spoke sounding distracted. When she looked up at Kerry she saw her colleague’s concerned face. “Sorry, Kerry. Have you got time for a coffee?”
“I’ve got a few minutes.”
The two women headed towards the doctor’s lounge. Kerry sat down at the table while Abby poured two mugs of coffee. “Bloodwork shows that Alyssa Grady’s leukemia is worsening. And she’s already showing signs of an infection.” She fixed her coffee the way she liked and did the same for Kerry’s before she handed her the mug.
“Damn. Have you heard anything more on the girls’ mother?” Kerry seemed rather despondent.
“Not yet.” Abby placed a hand over Kerry’s. “Kerry, are you okay?”
“The girls shouldn’t have to spend Christmas without their parents.”
“No, they shouldn’t.” Abby took a chance and pressed forward, “And Henry shouldn’t be without his mother, either.”
“No, Kerry. You love him as much as Sandy did. He’s your son. It’s bad enough this is your first Christmas without her, you shouldn’t have to be without your son, too.”
“It just hurts.” Once the tears started they started a torrent. Abby came around the table to envelope Kerry in a hug as the older woman’s tears continued to fall. Several minutes passed before the tears eased off and Kerry gently tried pulled away from Abby’s hold, but Abby still held on lightly with one arm as she brought the other up to Kerry’s face. With the pad of her thumb, she wiped the tear-stricken face, bringing Kerry’s eyes up to meet her own.
“I know, Kerry. I know. Look, I know it’s getting late. I’m off at midnight. Come over to the apartment. You shouldn’t have to be alone tonight.”
“No, no. I don’t want to put you out.” “Kerry, it’s not an imposition. Besides, I wasn’t looking forward to spending Christmas on my own, either.” Abby released Kerry and finished off her near lukewarm coffee. “All right, let’s go out and see that they’ve got in store for us.”
Abby was almost to the door when she heard Kerry’s quiet voice. “Thank you.” Then Kerry stood to follow Abby out the lounge door and into the hustle and bustle of the emergency department.
“Dr. Weaver, the films are back on Mr. Kelly.”
“Thanks, Chuny.” Kerry picked up the CT radiology films and went and placed them up on the light board. Seeing what she’d been hoping for, she headed for Exam 1. As she went into the room, she could see him sleeping on the gurney. She looked at the monitors checking his vitals and everything looked normal.
“Mr. Kelly?” Kerry called to him. He opened his eyes slightly against the bright light of the room. “Mr. Kelly, you can go home. There’s no concussion, but all the same, you should get your family to come pick you up. Have you got any Ibuprofen at home? If not, I can write you a prescription for some.”
“I’ve got some. Thank you, Doctor Weaver. My I use the phone to call home?”
“Sure. You can use the phone here.” Kerry went over to the phone and picked up the receiver. “Just dial ‘9’ first. If you feel yourself getting any worse, come back or see your family doctor.”
“We don’t have one…a family doctor, I mean. We moved here from Wisconsin last year and we haven’t been able to find one yet that’s taking new patients.”
“I’ll do some checking. No promises but I’ll see if I can come up with something.”
“Thank you. Again.” Kerry nodded and headed back to the admit desk just as Mr. Kelly was starting to dial on the phone. From the admit desk, she pulled out a binder that had lists of physicians and began to go through them.
In the doctor’s lounge, Abby was going through her purse looking for address book. Finding what she needed, she lifted the phone receiver and began to dial. She waited for the respondent to state the District and Battalion number of the Chicago Fire Department.
“Hello, My name is Dr. Abby Lockhart at County ER. I’m looking for Eduardo Lopez?”
“He’s not working tonight, Ma’am. Do you want to leave a message?” the shift supervisor asked.
“No, thank you. This is actually a family matter. Do you happen to have a number where I can reach him?”
“We don’t usually give employee numbers out over the phone, Doctor.”
“I know, sir. But this is a unique circumstance.” Abby proceeded to explain part of the reason she was asking, and the supervisor was agreeable to the request. Abby wrote down the phone number she was given. “Thank you, sir. Have a good night.”
“You, too. Say ‘hi’ to Doc Weaver for us.”
“Will do. Thanks.”
Abby hung up and dialled the number she’d been given. “Hello, may I speak with Eddie Lopez please?”
“This is he. Whom may I ask is calling?”
“This is Doctor Abby Lockhart.”
“Ah, at County. Hey.” Eddie paused for a moment. “Is something wrong with Kerry?”
“Sort of, but not in any emergency way. Look, I need to ask a big favour.”
“What do you need?”
“Henry. For tonight and tomorrow until the evening,” Abby responded hopefully. “I know this might seem like an odd request, given that Kerry dropped him off earlier today.”
“Yes, she said she was working.”
“I know she wanted to give Henry some time with your family out of deference to Sandy being gone. But I’d like to do this for Kerry. This is her first Christmas without Sandy. And all she has left is that precious little boy.”
“That’s not all she has, though.”
“Kerry’s a good friend. And she’s hurting.”
There was silence on the phone for a moment. Eddie honestly liked Kerry Weaver. He’d been unsure when his older sister fell for her, but he’d come around once he’d seen how happy the two of them had been. He’d been sad for them when Kerry’d lost their first pregnancy, and he’d been rather surprised when his sister had decided to go ahead with the second pregnancy after all. But he supported them. And as much as his parents were reticent and uneasy about Sandy’s sexuality and her relationship with Kerry, they did acknowledge the joy that the little boy had brought to their lives.
“Okay. I’ll drop him off at the hospital before we go to Midnight Mass. I’ll explain to my parents something…Kerry deserves some happiness, too.”
“Thank you, so much. Look, I want this to be a surprise for Kerry. If you could give me a call right before you come, I’ll go meet you first.”
“Sounds good. I’ll bring round Kerry’s presents for him that she’d also brought over.”
Chuny walked into the room, as Abby was finishing up her call. Chuny had been looking for her.
“See you later,” Abby spoke, before she hung up the phone.
“Hot date with a gorgeous man later?”
“Not quite,” Abby said as she got up to leave.
“I’ve got some bad news. The little girls that you and Dr. Weaver have? Their mother died on the OR table. Bled out. Their father is not looking good, either. Luka’s still working on him.”
“Damn. Does Dr. Weaver know?”
“Yes, she took the call from Dr. Dubenko.”
“Any sign of the Oncology consult on Alyssa Grady?”
“Yeah, Dr. Henderson’s in with her now.”
“Thanks, Chuny.” Abby was up and out the door into triage and headed towards the paediatric exam rooms. She by-passed Trauma 2 and she saw Luka pulling off his gloves. She stopped briefly opening the trauma room doors. When she got eye contact with him in question, he shook his head and then she saw Malik cover the body of Mr. Grady. She nodded and headed back in the direction she was going. When she finally arrived in the paediatric exam room, Kerry was sitting with the girls. Abby paused at the scene. Dr. Henderson had left, but lying on the bed was a tired Alyssa, with her blankets curled up around her. In a not so comfortable chair next to the bed, Kerry Weaver was sitting with little Caitie curled up asleep on her lap, Kerry’s arms wrapped protectively around the little girl and a book held carefully in her other hand. Kerry had been reading to the girls a story of Peter Rabbit.
Abby was hesitant to intrude but she had to let Kerry know the status of the girls’ father. Quietly, so as to not disrupt, Abby spoke. “Kerry, can I speak with you for a minute?” Kerry nodded. But as Kerry attempted to dislodge the young girl from herself, Caitie only seemed to hold on tighter in her sleep. Kerry looked up to Abby for some help and with just a nod, Abby approached and softly and gently wrapped her arms around the girl’s back and under her knees and lifted her off Kerry’s lap and onto the stretcher with her sister, then pulled the blankets around the both of them and put up the side rail. When Caitie stirred briefly, Kerry leaned down and whispered into the girl’s ear, which seemed to settle her back to sleep. Kerry laid a brief kiss on the girl’s forehead before she left.
“Kerry, Mr. Grady didn’t make it. Luka just finished with him. Do you want me to call Adele Newman in?”
“Just give me a few minutes with Luka and I’ll give Adele a call. Thank you, Abby. Do you have time? I mean to go sit with the girls for a while?”
“Yeah. It’s pretty slow right now...Oh, Kerry, what did Dr. Henderson say about Alyssa?”
“You were right on the infection. She’s not been on the service here at County. He’s going to call around to the area hospitals to see where she’s been admitted before to get her previous medical records sent over. Once the records are reviewed he’ll see where to go from there. At any rate, he’s going to admit her to the Paeds Unit tonight.”
“What about Caitie?”
“I’ll see what information I can get from the parent’s identification. See if I can find an emergency contact name and phone number. If it comes to it, I’ll see what strings I can pull to get her admitted with her sister, even if it’s just for the night.”
“Okay.” Abby turned around and headed back into the room, to sit with the girls, whom were now both sleeping. Kerry headed to the triage centre in search of information.
“Chuny, are the Grady’s personal belongings around here?”
“Yes, the EMTs brought it all in with them. What do you need?”
“Purse or wallet. I need any emergency contact information they might have. Also could you page Adele Newman to come down?”
“Sure, Dr. Weaver.” Chuny headed in the direction of were the patient’s belongings had been stored. After a few moments, Chuny came back with a sheet of paper, which she handed over to Dr. Weaver. “Just one name and number.”
“Thanks, Chuny. I’ll go take it in the Lounge.” Kerry headed into the Lounge and sat down at the table, sighing heavily. It was always hard delivering bad news to family members. Particularly when children were involved. Hesitantly, she picked up the phone and began to dial. After four rings, a woman’s cherry voice answered.
“Hello, may I speak with Danielle Williams please?”
“Just a minute.” A brief muffled call out followed before another woman’s voice picked up the phone.
“This is Danielle Williams. May I ask who is calling, please?”
“This is Dr. Kerry Weaver at County Hospital. You were listed as the Emergency Contact for Catherine Grady. You’re Mrs. Grady’s sister?”
“I’m sorry, could you please come down to the hospital? I need to speak with you as soon as possible.”
“What’s wrong? Is she sick? The girls?”
“I’m sorry, I can’t tell you that over the phone. Could you please get here soon?”
“Yeah, just a minute. Let me get the information. What did you say your name was?”
“Dr. Kerry Weaver. Just ask for me at the desk.”
“Thank you, Doctor. I’ll be there as soon as I can.” Kerry hung up the phone and headed out to the triage desk, when she saw Adele Newman wheeling around the corner.
“Dr. Weaver, you called for me?”
“Yes. We had a family come in tonight in a trauma. Both parents died; one on the OR table and one here in Emerg. There were two girls that survived. An eight year old girl, Alyssa, that has leukemia, and her four year old sister, Caitie.”
“Have they been told yet?”
“No, the father just died a little while ago. I was able to contact the emergency contact, a Danielle Williams. She’s on her way in. Dr. Henderson is admitting Alyssa to the paediatric unit tonight. If Ms. Williams is agreeable, I will see if they’ll admit Caitie as well just for the night. They’ve lost both their parents on Christmas Eve. They should at least be together for Christmas Day. I’ll see what strings I have to pull. The advantages of being Chief.”
“Sounds reasonable. Do you want me to come with you while you tell the girls?”
“Yes, if you wouldn’t mind.” The two women headed to the Paediatric Exam room where Abby was sitting, charting, as the two girls slept. Abby looked up as Kerry and Adele entered the room.
“You were able to contact someone?”
“Yes, the girls’ aunt. She’s coming in now.” Kerry walked over to the stretcher and placed her hands on Caitie’s and Alyssa’s arms, gently calling the girls names. When they stirred and woke confused, Kerry quickly calmed them. After a couple minutes, Alyssa sat up and rubbed her eyes, suddenly aware there were other people in the room.
“Dr. Kerry?” Alyssa spoke.
“Caitie, Alyssa, this Adele Newman. She’s going to help us. I’m afraid I’ve got some bad news. You remember when you came in earlier today after an accident?” The girls nodded. “Well, your Mommy and Daddy were hurt really badly. Your Mommy had to go to the operating room, but she was bleeding too much. As much blood as they could put in, she was losing out. I’m sorry. She died. The doctors tried the best they could, but it was too much.”
Though there were tears now freely flowing down her face, Alyssa asked, “What about Daddy?”
“I’m sorry, sweetie. He died as well. His neck broke. It cut his spinal cord. His breathing stopped and he couldn’t get enough oxygen to his brain.”
Through Caitie’s tears, the little girl asked “What about Christmas? What about the stockings? Mommy puts them up at night.”
“Sweetie, Mommy can’t do that now. Mommy’s gone to heaven.” Kerry sat at the edge of the stretcher as the girls curled up along her sides.
“Dr. Kerry, where are we going to stay, now?” Alyssa asked, very practically.
“Remember the doctor who was here earlier to check on you? Dr. Henderson?” At Alyssa’s nod, Kerry continued. “Dr. Henderson is going to admit you to the children’s unit because you have an infection, and until they can determine the status of your leukemia. Your aunt Danielle is coming in shortly, but I think I can get Caitie to stay with you tonight if you’d like that?” Both girls nodded, though both were still tired.
Kerry looked up at Abby in silent conversation. She tilted her head towards the girls, indicating she would stay with them. Abby nodded and she and Adele left the room, heading back out to the desk.
Adele looked back towards where they’d come from, and smiled. Commenting to Abby, Adele spoke, “Dr. Weaver should have been a paediatrician. She’s so good with kids.” “She is. But I think she’d miss the excitement of the ER. As much as people gripe sometimes, myself included, she’s damn good at what she does, and runs it better than anyone else has.”
An hour later
A young woman in her early thirties, perhaps, approached the admit desk. “Hello, I need to speak with Dr. Kerry Weaver.”
Frank looked up from his place at the desk. “I’m sorry, miss. You’ll have to take a seat in chairs.”
“My name is Danielle Williams. She called me. My sister’s family was brought in earlier this afternoon. Grady.”
“Just a minute. I’ll check for you.” Frank went off in search of someone to help him. Headed down the hallway he spotted Chuny who was searching for supplies on one of the carts. “Hey, Chuny, have you seen Dr. Weaver?”
“Paeds Exam 2.”
“Could you get her? Someone claiming to be Danielle Williams is at the desk waiting for her. About the Grady family.”
“Yeah, just a second.” Frank went back to the desk and Chuny went to get Kerry.
Kerry carefully extricated herself from the girls while Chuny sat with them, as Kerry went to meet with Ms. Williams. She guided the young woman into a quiet room while she told her of the situation. The young woman broke down in tears, but had asked to see her nieces. Kerry took her to the girls’ room and let her be with them. Meanwhile, Kerry went back to the desk and called up to the Paediatric unit to speak with the attending physician. After several minutes of wrangling and arguing procedure with him, Kerry managed to get him to admit Caitie for the night alongside her sister. She went back to the exam room to let Ms. Williams and the girls know the situation.
“Dr. Kerry, could you read to us some more, please?” Alyssa asked, holding up the book, Beatrix Potter: The Complete Tales.
“Now, Alyssa, I’m sure Dr. Weaver has more important things to do.
“No, I have some time, if you don’t mind. We were just getting to ‘The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin’ earlier.”
“Okay. I’m going to go make some phone calls.”
“If you need anything, you just ask the nurses at the desk. One of them will help you.”
“Thank you, Doctor.” Ms. Williams left the room.
Kerry sat up on the stretcher with the girls on either side of her and she held the book out so the girls could see the illustrations, and Alyssa could read along. “This is a tale about a tail – a tail that belonged to a little red squirrel, and his name was Nutkin…” Kerry continued to read until the girls again fell asleep against her.
Abby went into the lounge to answer a page that she’d been expecting. As arranged, Eddie Lopez had called first to meet with Abby to hand over Henry to her. Abby quickly went out to check on Kerry to make sure she was occupied for a little while e, before she headed out into the Ambulance Bay to pick up Kerry’s young son. Eddie put the boy’s supplies bag in the back of his stroller, and handed Abby the large bag full of presents.
“He’s all set. He’s had a bath and a nap earlier this evening for a while then fell asleep on the car ride over, and he had some supper earlier and my younger sister gave him some milk just before we left.”
“Thank you so much. Are you sure you can’t come in to help surprise her?”
“No, that’s all right. I’ve got to get going. But tell Kerry ‘Merry Christmas’ for me. I’ll see her tomorrow evening when she drops Henry off before goes to work.”
“Again, thank you very much. She’ll appreciate this so much.”
“You’re a good friend to her, Dr. Lockhart. She’s lucky to have you.”
“It’s Abby. And I think I’m the lucky one sometimes. Good night. Merry Christmas to you and your family.” Abby waited until Eddie left and headed back into the ER, as the snow was just starting to fall lightly. She was glad she didn’t have to work tonight, for many reasons, not the least was the fact that with a light dusting of snow, folks tended to be cocky when it came to driving, leading to more accidents. She was leaving that joy for Morris. She smiled as she entered the lounge with Henry. Abby took off her own coat before reaching down to take off the blanket and jacket that Henry was bundled up in. While he was still in his stroller, Abby popped her head around the lounge door and asked Haleh to go bring Kerry to the lounge.
Several minutes passed, and when the lounge door opened, Kerry found Abby bouncing Henry on her lap; the boy’s face alight with joy, and his hand reaching out to grab Abby’s hair.
“Abby?” Kerry questioned lightly, afraid to break the spell, and that her son wasn’t really here. “What…?”
“Merry Christmas, Kerry.”
“Oh God. He’s really here.” Kerry came over to Abby and Henry’s face brightened further when he saw his mother. “Hey, baby? How’s Mommy’s little boy?” Henry gurgled happily in his typical fashion. Kerry rubbed Henry’s back, reassuring herself of his presence, when he reached out and held his arms up to her. Kerry had tears brimming along her eyes as she looked up at Abby. “How? I thought…”
“I spoke with Sandy’s brother, Eddie. Said I wanted it to be a surprise for you. He agreed.”
“Where is he?” Kerry picked her son up and cuddled him to her chest.
“He couldn’t stay. The family was on the way to Midnight Mass, but he wanted me to wish you a ‘Merry Christmas’ for him. Said he’d see you tomorrow.”
“I don’t know what to say, Abby. Thank you just doesn’t seem to cover it.” Kerry leaned over and gave Abby a one-armed hug. A heartfelt quiet whisper crossed over into the other woman’s ear as Kerry spoke. “Thank you.”
“Look, Kerry, I know I offered for you to stay at my place tonight, and the offer still stands, but if you’d prefer to be home with Henry, that’s fine, too.”
“Oh no. Just because the circumstances have changed slightly doesn’t mean you get to back out.” Kerry spoke with a giggle, and she backed out of the embrace. “My place is at least childproofed. But you’re coming over. Besides, your present is still at the house. I forgot to bring it earlier.” Kerry looked down at her son and brushed his dark hair back. “And it’s the least I can do for you giving me this wonderful surprise for a present. When I dropped him off at Sandy’s parent’s place at noon, I didn’t think I’d see him again until Sunday, when I was supposed to pick him up again.”
“Are you sure, I won’t be intruding?” Abby asked.
“I wouldn’t be insisting if that were the case.”
“Come on, little man. We’ve got some girls for you to meet.” Kerry picked Henry up in her left arm and walked out into the emergency department.
“Oh, Dr. Weaver. The Grady girls wanted to say goodbye to you before they went upstairs. Their aunt is in with them now,” Chuny told her.
“Thanks, Chuny.” Kerry, Henry and Abby headed for the Paediatric Exam room to say goodnight to the girls before she left and before the girls were moved upstairs. The girls were amused by the little boy and said their ‘Merry Christmas’s’ and ‘Goodnights’. They’d wanted her to read to them some more, but both their aunt and Kerry said it would have to be another time, because Dr. Kerry was going home with her little boy.
Luka was covering the remainder of the night with Pratt and Morris, so once Kerry and Abby signed off their patients, they retreated to the lounge to pick up Henry’s things and head first to Kerry’s car, and then to her home.
Henry was sound asleep when they got home. Kerry handed Abby the house keys to unlock the door. Abby brought her knapsack and Henry’s supplies in, while Kerry unbuckled her son from his car seat and carried the sleeping form into the condo. She quietly brought him down to his room and placed him in his crib, gently tucking his blanket around him.
Several minutes later, after she’d looked after her son, and removed her coat, she went in search of Abby, and found her in the kitchen filling the kettle.
“I hope you don’t mind…I was just putting the kettle on for some tea. I think if I had any more coffee today, I’d never sleep.”
“Not at all. I’ve got some herbal teas in the cupboard in the corner. Pick whichever one you’d like. And if you could get me a green tea, that would be great.” Kerry paused a moment. “Would you like anything to eat? I think I’ve got some leftovers. Or, there are some shortbread cookies in the container on the counter.” Kerry was aware that she was babbling a bit. It wasn’t like it was Abby’s first time to her home; she’d been over a couple of times over the past year. But still, Kerry felt nervous. Once the kettle had been placed on the stove and the range turned on, Abby walked over to the centre island in the kitchen where Kerry was leaning. Abby placed a hand over her friend’s.
“Relax, Kerry. It’s Christmas. Enjoy it. You have your son at home with you. Even though he won’t remember this, you will.”
Kerry drew the younger woman into a hug. “Thank you for this.”
The women retreated with their mugs into the living room where had Abby placed Henry’s presents under the tree. They curled up on either side of the couch with their legs stretched out towards the other, and draped a blanket over their laps. The low light in the room cast interesting shadows, mixed with the tree lights that lit up the corner of the room. After some quiet conversation and their tea finished, Kerry shifted, seemingly in some pain. Abby was quick to notice.
“Sorry, my hip is bothering me.” She started to massage the area in question. “Would you mind…I’ve got some prescription grade Ibuprofen in my bathroom. Could you bring it over with some water, please?” “Sure thing, Kerry. Look, how about I help you to your room. While I’m getting the water, and that heating pad ready, you can get changed. I’ll come up and massage that hip for you.”
Kerry stiffened slightly. She had grown unaccustomed to people, even friends, helping her in such a manner. And the last woman Kerry had entrusted that vulnerability with regards to her disability was her now deceased wife.
“Kerry, it’s okay. We’ll do things at your comfort level.” Kerry nodded then Abby pulled her to her feet after she’d done the same for herself. “Come on.” Abby threaded Kerry’s crutch around her arm then moved alongside her as they headed towards Kerry’s bedroom. She sat on the side of the bed until Abby left to go get her some water, and the heating pad Kerry kept in the living room. Abby stayed out an extra few minutes to give the other woman some time to change.
Kerry had barely gotten into her cotton pyjamas when Abby returned. She quickly retreated to Kerry’s bathroom to get the medication then returned.
“Here, Kerry.” Abby handed her the pills and thee glass of water. Once Kerry’d taken them, Abby directed her to lie on her side in the centre of the bed, while the younger woman placed the heated pad on Kerry’s sore joint. Abby sat on the bed next to her, atop the sheets as she awaited the heated pad to work on her friend. She placed her hand on Kerry’s right hip. Slowly she began to massage the muscles that surrounded the hip, and down the other woman’s thigh. “How’s that, Kerry?”
“Mmmm. Feels good.” Kerry brought her legs up into a semi-foetal position as Abby continued to work the muscles. It was also beginning having a side benefit, but Kerry clamped down on those feelings, reminding herself that Abby was a friend.
After several minutes of massaging Kerry’s hip, Abby got her to roll over onto her stomach, and she proceeded to work on massaging Kerry’s back.
“Gods, I could hire you to do this full time,” Kerry murmured into the pillow, as she felt very relaxed.
“I doubt my boss would relieve me from my duties to perform this function,” Abby joked, teasingly.
“If you keep that massage up, I’m sure she’d be willing to overlook it from time to time.”
“But what would they say at work when I’m feeling up my boss to give her a massage?” Abby moved up Kerry’s back to work on the muscles of her shoulders, arms and neck.
“I don’t care…Oh gods,” Kerry moaned, drowsily.
“You say that now.” Several more minutes passed, then Abby stopped and pulled Kerry’s shirt back down and raised the bed sheets to cover her. “Kerry, I’m just going to go get some sheets and an extra pillow and set it up on the couch.”
Hesitantly as if afraid of the answer, Kerry spoke, “I’d like it if you would stay here…with me.” Kerry looked over towards Abby. “Unless it would be too awkward. If it is, I’m sorry.”
“Kerry, it’s okay. I don’t mind. Really.” Abby laid a hand alongside Kerry’s cheek as she looked into the older woman’s eyes, reaffirming her spoken words. “I do need to go change, though.”
“There is an extra shirt in the drawer if you need it.”
“Thanks, but I had a pair of shorts and a t-shirt in my bag.”
Kerry’s eyebrow rose at this. “Planning in advance?”
“Not so much. I had it in my locker in a vain hope that I might get to the gym. Never works though. I don’t think I’ve made it there more than once in the past two weeks.”
“I hope this is the before gym shirt and not the after gym shirt. Otherwise, you are wearing one of my shirts.”
“Very funny, Kerry. It’s the before shirt. It’s out in the front hall. I just dropped in there along with Henry’s diaper bag.” Without thinking about it. She leaned in closer and laid a kiss along Kerry’s hairline. “I’ll be back in a few minutes.”
Kerry settled back into the sheets, lying on her stomach, her arms slightly raised and wrapped around her pillow with her head resting on the pillow. She briefly nodded off to sleep when Abby returned.
“Where do you want me?” Abby stopped when she realised what she’d said, and she’d noticed the hike in Kerry’s eyebrow and the smirk on her face. “Okay, that perhaps didn’t come out the right way. Which side of the bed is better for you?”
Rather than let Abby continue flounder on her words, Kerry spoke, as she indicated. “Come over this side.” She directed her left side. Abby did as she was directed, curling up under the sheets and the down comforter. Kerry turned over onto her side as she looked at Abby, who shifted four times in as many minutes.
“You’re uncomfortable,” Kerry stated without preamble.
“Yes. But not for the reasons you’re thinking of.”
“I’m not sure how to say this. And I don’t want to screw up this friendship we have. I really like you as a friend.”
“What makes you think it will?” After a few moments of silence, Kerry prodded her a little. “Abby?”
“Because lately I’ve been thinking of you in more than strictly friendly ways,” Abby said as quickly as possible and then waited for a response.
“And you’re afraid that I might what? Accept it? Or throw you out?”
“Both, neither. I don’t know. I do know that when we hug each other sometimes, I just want to stay in your arms or you in mine. I look forward to the next time.”
Kerry nodded. “That’s okay. Normal, even.”
“But I’m not gay. Or at least I don’t think I am.”
“You don’t need to label yourself now, or ever if you don’t want to. I was scared at first. Didn’t know what I was feeling. Then I was terrified of anyone knowing. Gods, poor Kim. I don’t think she knew what hit her.”
“Kim? As in Dr. Legaspi? Wow. I knew you both were friends, but I didn’t know you were…”
“Only a few months before I screwed it up.”
“I’m sorry, Kerry. I didn’t know.”
“Nobody did. Well, until I threatened Romano to reinstate her. I came out before I had the chance to think about what I was saying. Even then I was scared. Even in the first couple months I was with Sandy, I was afraid to let anyone know whom I loved. So I do have some idea of what you’re feeling.” Kerry smiled through a yawn at Abby. “This is rather heavy conversation for very early Christmas Day. I’m not saying we ignore it, but do you mind postponing it a little. Both of us need some sleep before Henry wakes us up.”
Abby nodded. Then she pursed her lips and looked at Kerry, questioningly. “May I hold you?”
“Certainly. Come here.” Abby scooted the few inches closer to Kerry and Kerry turned into her arms, resting her head on Abby’s chest. Abby’s arms came around Kerry to encircle her until both settled and soon fell asleep.