Part 7 - Mulcahy’s Confession
Author's note: We’ll be seeing more of Hawkeye in a few more chapters. We still need to get through the funeral.:(
“Thank you so very much for taking the time to see me. I know how busy you are. I understand you’re very much in demand these days.” Father Mulcahy sighed as he welcomed the psychiatrist into his tent.
“As are you. I’m was hoping we would have a chance to talk. How are you doing?”
“Truth be told, I’m not doing so well. This is just between the two of us, of course.”
“Of course. You should understand confidentiality better than anyone.”
“ Confidentiality is sacred.” Father Mulcahy looked around.
“You look uncomfortable. Do I make you nervous?”
“Yes. I mean no Please excuse my slip, I certainly didn’t mean it. I know you psychiatrists might call it a Freudian slip but please know that it was just an innocent slip of the tongue. I’m just not used to being on the giving end of confession I suppose.”
“Do you have something you’d like to confess?” asked the doctor.
“Well, I confess this is quite difficult for me. Preparing a funeral for a friend is not the easiest thing in the world to do. I suppose I knew it was a possibility- this is a war.”
“What does that mean?”
“I don’t know. I guess it means I just wasn’t ready to lose a friend. Radar was a dear friend who left a mark on this world. He certainly made his mark in this unit. Nearly everyone has stopped in to see me. You know, there has been one troubling exception.” The priest frowned.
“And who might that be?”
“Hawkeye. I fully expected to see him. He was mighty close to Radar. I’ve tried to look in on him, you know, as time as allowed. But I’ve been so busy…. I’ve looked for him at meals but I haven’t seen him. I wanted to ask the Colonel about him but it didn’t seem…appropriate. I’ve seen him in the O.R. but he’s been unapproachable. I wish I could talk to him. But I’m afraid that he may not wish to talk to me.” Father Mulcahy wrung his hands as he spoke. He had even begun to perspire, which was not lost on the psychiatrist.
“Hawkeye is important to you as well.”
“I consider him a close friend, yes.”
Sidney grew quiet, giving the priest the time he needed to say what was truly on his mind. He had found, in his experience, that the Freudian method of allowing people to speak freely was the most effective way to help the patient to heal. Clearly Father Mulcahy was troubled by Hawkeye’s behavior. Whether it was Hawkeye himself or the whole situation was yet to be seen. He leaned forward and folded his hands together while remaining quiet.
“He hasn’t been himself.”
“You mentioned that.”
“Well, there is a bit more to the story. But I’m not sure I’m at liberty to discuss it.”
“You might feel better.”
“You see, it’s about Hawkeye. And Radar. I’m afraid that Hawkeye is blaming himself for Radar’s death. And I might be responsible for that.” He looked down away from Sidney. It was the first time he admitted to anyone, even himself, that he might have been unfair to Hawkeye.
“You see, Radar had just had surgery. I’m not sure of the whole story but I know that Hawkeye wasn’t able to finish up with his second surgery. He was a bit under the weather, shall we say. Radar asked Hawkeye about it, and then Hawkeye wound up saying some things he probably shouldn’t have. I became angry with Hawkeye and let him know about it. Sidney, I didn’t even give Hawkeye a chance to explain himself. And now…and now Hawkeye has to live with knowing that his last words to Radar were those of an argument. I’m afraid that he’ll blame himself. I wish there was something I could say to him to let him know that he’s not to blame. I’m not sure there’s anything any of us can say to him. I’m a man of the cloth and I just don’t know if there’s a way to repair the damage I’ve done to our relationship. I don’t know if he can ever get over what’s happened with Radar.”
“I can certainly see the concern you have for Hawkeye. And you’re right. He may never get over what’s happened.”
Father Mulcahy looked stunned.
“Not exactly what you had hoped to hear. He’s in a state of shock. He’s angry. He’s angry at himself. He may even be angry with you. I’m sorry, that’s probably not what you’d like to hear.”
“No, no, I expected as much. What can I do?”
“I would give him time. I’d like to tell you that he’ll get over his anger. But the truth is we won’t know how he’ll he react. He could associate you with the guilt he has over fighting with Radar and avoid you like the plague. He could internalize his feelings and pretend everything’s just fine. You know as well as I do that grief affects everyone differently. In your line of work you see this. I’ll keep an eye on him. You have your plate full with your job. Let me worry about Hawkeye.”
Father Mulcahy nodded. “I wish there was more I could do to help him. But at this point I feel as if I might anger him. I just feel so helpless.”
“Father, sometimes the strongest thing a person can do is walk away from a situation. It doesn’t mean you’re turning your back on Hawkeye. Just give him some space to let the healing process begin. Let him come to you. Right now focus on the camp and the memorial service. Let me take care of Hawkeye.”
“All right. I don’t feel entirely comfortable turning my back…”
“You’re not turning your back on him. You’re meeting a need even he may not realize he needs.”
“Well, since you put it that way…” He always did like to be needed. “But you’ll let me know if there’s anything more I can do?”
Sidney smiled. “There is one more thing you can do. I’m not too good at this sort of thing.”
“You can say a prayer for Hawkeye.”
Father Mulcahy laughed at his Jewish friend’s joke. “I’ll do that. And Sidney…thank you.”
The two men stood up and shook hands.
“Good night, Father.”
Sidney was happy to have helped another of his 4077th friends during this crisis. It was apparent that one man would need his help most of all. He would have to soon call on Hawkeye Pierce.
Part 8 - The service
Father Mulcahy looked around the room before he began. Everyone was watching him except for Hawkeye, who was staring at the platform from his next to last-row seat. The surgeon, clad in his crimson bathrobe, appeared exhausted and unshaven. In a room full of mourners, it was Hawkeye’s grief that appeared to be the most palpable. The priest hoped he would be able to comfort his friend after the ceremony. He noticed that he wasn’t the only one observing Hawkeye- sitting directly behind the doctor was Sidney. This scene looked sadly familiar. Not too long ago the priest had stood to speak of Henry’s death.
Margaret’s tears already had begun to flow. B.J., who sat in the row behind her, handed her his handkerchief. He’d come prepared. During Henry’s funeral she’d insisted to everyone she was just fine. She had refused to carry a handkerchief of any kind. She, Margaret Houlihan, would not cry. At least that is what she had told every one who would listen. The minute the Father laid out Henry’s picture, Margaret lost it and began to sob. Hawkeye had offered her a handkerchief then and she accepted it without acknowledging the gesture. This time was different. She looked back at B.J.and nodded, acknowledging his gracious gesture. Seeing her tear-stained face brought a tear to his own eye. Even in a state of vulnerability she was still one of the toughest women he’d ever known. They say a picture speaks a thousand words. A photo of her face at that moment, if taken, surely had a story to tell beginning with the loss of Henry Blake.
B.J. closed his eyes. He could hear the name Radar being whispered. If he listened even more closely he wondered if it would be possible to hear the name Henry. And if the wind blew in the right direction, would the name Tommy Gillis fly by Hawkeye’s row?....It was daunting…Radar..Henry….Tommy…no wonder Hawk isolated himself off in that fluffy robe of his. It was his defense against all of the ghosts in the room. Colonel Potter could hear the name Henry…the man whose shoes he had to “fill”. B.J. himself had a personal albeit living ghost named Trapper John…the one that held the door wide open for him. And by proxy he shared Hawkeye’s ghosts….for B.J. and Hawkeye were close enough to share the other one’s burdens. Everyone here had ghosts to fight off….Hawk had three. Margaret had a ghost of her own named Frank, who represented the woman she’d outgrown and left behind. But she was still a part of her. It was amazing to have all of these spiritual forces in the same room at the same time. It was better for each one to deal with their own personal ghost than to stop and allow the unthinkable question to be asked….could I be next?
“I’d like to begin by quoting from St. Augustine.” The Father started.
“Love never disappears.
I have merely retired to the room next door.
You and I are the same; what we were for each other, we still are.
Speak to me as you always have, do not use a different tone, do not be sad.
Continue to laugh at what made us laugh.
Smile and think of me.
Life means what it has always meant.
The link is not severed.
Why should I be out of your soul if I am out of your sight?
I will wait for you, I am not here, but just on the other side of the path.
You will see, all is well.”
“Life’s brings us many joys and pleasures, and it also brings us inescapable pain and sorrow. We all have times of mourning, loss, and grief. Such is this time for the 4077. We have suffered an unimaginable loss in our dear friend, Walter O’Reilly. We each carry a heavy sorrow over his loss. We have come together to share our grief, to mourn together the loss of a comrade. Let us join together in spirit to remember the gentle soul we remember simply as Radar.”
Hawkeye refused to make eye contact with the priest. He shuffled his feet, which distracted those around him. B.J. looked over at him and asked if he was alright.
“Yeah, yeah.” He motioned with his hand for his friend to leave him alone. His voice, although in a whisper, had a strange detachment to it. B.J. watched the stranger beside him for another minute. If Hawkeye noticed or cared, he didn’t show it.
Sidney eyed the scene and frowned.
“Radar was not what you would consider your typical soldier. At first glance you might consider him to be a bit shy. But don’t be fooled- he always had a kind word for those around him. He was a truly gentle soul. He respected authority.” Father Mulcahy glanced over at Colonel Potter, who nodded his head.
“And at the same time treated everyone he met with courtesy and a sense of humor. Those who worked with him would testify to his keen sense of loyalty. He would give you the shirt off his back. I believe his has literally done so from time to time.” He smiled.
“He was a kind and gentle soul with humans but also with animals. He’s had quite a menagerie. He’s been quite creative in taking care of his pets. One time he sent his pet lamb back to his mom’s farm all the way from Korea. A boy like that who would go to such lengths to take care of one of God’s innocent creatures is truly blessed with a soft heart and a quick wit. He has a way with animals, as I’m sure Colonel Potter would attest to.”
Colonel Potter nodded.
“Radar was the picture of youth and innocence. It would be hard pressed for one of us to think of him without thinking of another of his animals-his teddy bear. That teddy bear brought him hope and comfort in a world that is so different than anything he’d ever dreamt of. He was about as All-American as apple pie. Radar was a good kid.. The teddy bear provided security and companionship, isn’t that what we’re all looking for? God bless you and your teddy bear, son.”
“We are members of a close team. This isn’t, sadly, the first time we’ve suffered the loss of one of our own. But we can do what we did the last time. We draw our strength from our Lord and from each other. Losing Henry and now Radar are devastating blows. But we can overcome our grief if we turn to our Lord for guidance. I’m here for everyone, as is Sidney. Never underestimate the power of your comrades. We must celebrate the life of Radar, as we did with Henry. Neither of them can ever be far from our thoughts.” Padre folded up his notes.
“And now, would someone like to give a Eulogy?”
B.J. stood up and made his way to the front. Hawkeye’s body tensed up. Sidney noted this.
“When I think of Radar, I think of what a swell friend he was. There wasn’t a thing in the world he wouldn’t do for you. If I needed a phone call at four in the morning, he’d make it. By the way, Colonel Potter, that was a hypothetical situation.”
A few members in the audience chuckled.
“I’ll never forget one time Hawk and I decided to give Frank Burns a birthday present. We decided put on an act like we were mad at each other. Probably the best birthday present Ferret Face ever had. And in walks Radar. He puts an end to that fighting. He lets us know in no uncertain terms that friendship is too valuable around here to fight. Nothing’s worth losing a friend over. The man had morals and would stand up for what he believed in.. To me, that just tells me that when the man saw a wrong he was willing to correct it, no matter what the consequences might be. I know men twice his age with half his convictions.”
The crowd was really brightening up as they listened to B.J.’s eulogy. He had a way with words, and he shared some more positive memories. Encouraged by the crowd’s response, B.J. shared a few more incidents. While he was speaking, he did not notice a man in a red robe slip out of the room. But a certain psychiatrist did watch as he walked right out of the room..
B.J. had meant to demonstrate that Radar valued friendship and would have held no grudge against Hawkeye. Instead, his words had the opposite effect. It was as if he had pushed a “guilt button” and had found Hawkeye’s breaking point.
Once outside Hawkeye ran as far as he could until he found a jeep. He jumped in and drove off. Confident no one could hear or see him, he pulled over. After getting out of the car he hollered at the top of his lungs. He yelled once more, because it felt so good. That was the healthiest thing he could have done, but not the smartest, so he quickly got back into the jeep and made his way back to camp, where, hopefully, he would be left alone.