Chapter 14 - Empty Arms
"You gave us quite a scare, Hawk," said BJ.
Hawkeye's mind was in a fog. "Where am I?" he asked.
"You're in the intensive care unit at Boston Mercy Hospital where 'Yours Truly' worked his magic on your insides," said Trapper.
"Beej? What are you doing here?"
"Charles called me Saturday morning to tell me about your accident," answered BJ.
"Hawk," said BJ, putting a hand on Hawkeye's shoulder, "you and Margaret were in a car accident Friday night. You've been out cold since you got here."
"What day is it?" asked Hawkeye trying to take it all in.
"It's Monday morning," said Daniel. "We were really afraid we were going to lose you, son."
"Margaret?" said Hawkeye noticing that she was still holding his hand through the side rail. She held his hand to her cheek and silently soaked it with her tears.
Trapper tapped Daniel and BJ on the shoulder and motioned toward the door with his head.
"We'll leave you two alone for a few minutes. You call if you need anything," said Trapper.
Margaret raised her head and looked into his eyes through the side rail. His face was badly bruised, especially around his eyes, giving him a raccoon like appearance. His head was swathed in bandages. In the midst of all of that his eyes were unmistakably Hawkeye, intense and blue.
"Margaret? What is it?"
"Hawkeye, do you remember anything about Friday?"
"We were going out to dinner...at that café....how am I doing so far?"
"I had a surprise..." she began.
He smiled, "You were going to tell me you're pregnant, right?"
Her eyes widened, "You knew?"
"I'd have to have been blind not to have figured it out...the fatigue...hugging the toilet every morning...classic symptoms."
She blurted out, "Hawkeye! I lost the baby in the accident."
He squeezed her hand and said softly, "It's okay...we can have another one..."
Margaret pulled her hand away and covered her face. "No no, we can't have another one...not ever! The bastards took it all...they took everything!"
Hawkeye turned his head to the wall trying to hold back his own tears. He wanted desperately to take her in his arms but between the IV's, the bed rails and the pain he couldn't.
BJ, Daniel and Trapper returned to the room when they heard Margaret's outcry.
"Margaret," said Daniel gently. "Let's get you back to your room. I think you two can use some rest."
"Thanks BJ. I appreciate the call. This is very good news! You tell them Mildred and I are thinking of them and if they need us we're only a phone call away."
Sherman hung up the phone and returned to the living room.
"Good news, mother!" he said. "That was BJ. Hawkeye has regained consciousness and there's no brain damage. The doctors are saying that the Pierces will probably be back in their own home by Christmas!"
"Oh Sherman, I'm so happy to hear that. It would be an awful thing to have to be in the hospital at Christmas."
"Here's a card from the O'Reilly's," said Rose. She was sitting by Margaret's bed going through the get well cards people had sent. "They say that they hope you are up and around soon. They've included a picture of little Jenny. She's just over a month old now. Look at all that hair."
Margaret glared at her mother, "I don't want to look at the picture. Not now! I don't want to look at a baby. Mother, you are unbelievable!"
Charles came in just then as he was making his rounds. "Mrs. Houlihan, perhaps this is not a good time to be looking at baby pictures. I'm sure that the O'Reilly baby is indeed quite lovely and one of these days I'm sure that Margaret will enjoy gazing on it. However, I need to check Margaret's incision so if you don't mind stepping out into the hallway..."
"Dr. Winchester, I happen to be a nurse!" said Rose indignantly.
"And I'm sure you are a very capable nurse. But you aren't employed at Boston Mercy so, Mrs. Houlihan...please..."
Rose left the room and let Charles know that she wasn't happy about it in the process.
Margaret giggled and said, "Thanks, Charles."
"It was worth it if only to see you smile, Margaret," he said.
"Good morning! Am I interrupting anything?" asked BJ.
"Not at tall, Hunnicutt, I was just checking my handiwork. I'm finished so you may feel free to visit the patient. Did I hear you say that you're returning home today?"
"Yeah, Daniel's giving me a lift to the airport. My flight leaves in a couple of hours."
Charles extended his hand, "Thanks for coming, BJ."
Margaret held out her arms to BJ. "I hate to see you leave, BJ. It meant a lot to have you here. I know it means a lot to Hawkeye."
"Are you going to be okay, Margaret?"
"I don't know, BJ. I'm trying..." she said, tears streaming down her face. "I wanted to have his children...have what every woman wants...a home and a family."
"Margaret, you have a home...and a family. You have a husband that adores you and Daniel and your mom."
"And a big empty house that will never have children playing in it," She said sadly.
BJ hugged her and whispered, "Be well, Margaret...don't shut him out."
She looked at him quizzically, wondering what he meant by that. "Good bye BJ," she said and kissed his cheek.
"Well, Hawkeye, I guess this is it...farewell again. I'm glad it wasn't a permanent goodbye."
BJ looked at his friend and smiled. He looked more like Hawkeye than he had a week ago. The swelling had gone down and the mass of bandages had been removed revealing his bush of hair.
"When does your flight leave?"
"In a couple of hours. Your dad is going to take me to the airport. I talked to Peg this morning. She's looking forward to my homecoming. Erin's driving her crazy with her constant chatter and Ben's teething. And I need to get back to work tomorrow."
At the mention of Ben, Hawkeye's expression changed to one of sadness. Hawkeye reached up and grabbed BJ's arm.
"Beej, please sit down for a few minutes. Can I level with you?"
"Sure. What is it, Hawk?"
"It's about...children...babies. My track record doesn't seem to be too good in that department..."
"Hawk, you don't think you're responsible for..."
"For the accident? No. Of course not. You know after that woman smothered her baby on the bus in Korea it was a long time before I felt comfortable around babies and small children. Little by little I had contact with them in my dad's practice. I thought I was doing really well until your son was born at our house. I had a flashback when he uttered his first cry. I felt bad about that..."
"Hawk, it's okay..."
"...but the next day when I held him and he grabbed my finger I can't tell you the thrill I felt...I knew then that when Margaret and I had kids I wouldn't be afraid of them. When I knew that she was pregnant I smiled all over just thinking about being a father..."
BJ smiled and looked down not wanting Hawkeye to see his tears.
"...When she called to ask me out to dinner, just the two of us, I knew that it was so she could tell me the good news. She thought she was hiding something from me. I had to work at not letting her know that I knew. I mean she had morning sickness so bad, how could I not know? I didn't want to spoil her surprise.
"I'm worried about her, Beej. She's devastated. I-I don't know how to help her...I..." BJ put an arm around Hawkeye and let him cry.
"Stand by her, Hawk. Don't let her shut you out. And don't forget that you've suffered a loss, too."
Daniel knocked on the door, "Calling for Dr. Hunnicutt, Pierce's taxi cab service here. We're ready to leave for the airport."
The two friends embraced one last time.
"Give everyone a big hug for me and tell Erin that her Christmas present from Uncle Hawkeye will be late this year. I'll call you when we get home."
"May I come in, Hawkeye?"
Hawkeye was sitting by the window watching snow fall on Boston. He turned abruptly when he heard a voice he hadn't heard for a while.
"Father Mulcahy!" he exclaimed. He got up gingerly to embrace the priest. "Sorry, Father, I'm not moving too swiftly these days. It's good to see you. You just missed Beej by a week. As a matter of fact you nearly missed us. The doctors are letting us out this weekend."
"Yes, I know," replied the priest. "I've already been in to see Margaret. She's pretty torn up, isn't she? That's understandable. Hawkeye, I'm so sorry about your accident and the loss of your child."
"Thank you, Father. It's really good to see you. Aren't you about ready to go back overseas?"
"Yes, just one more week and I'll be back at Sister Theresa's orphanage with 'my children.' Unfortunately her business is booming over there. I am looking forward to seeing all of them again."
"I wish you the best, Father. Personally I don't care if I ever see that hell hole again."
"Uh..yes, Hawkeye. This may not be a good time to bring this up and I didn't want to upset Margaret. I doubt that she's ready right now to entertain the idea...but maybe a few months to a year from now when you've finished grieving for the child you've lost...you might consider giving another child a home. There are so many who have lost homes and family.
The two men talked for a while about other things. Hawkeye had always enjoyed talking to the priest. He'd seen him go through a lot of hell in Korea and seemed to always rise to the top.
Father Mulcahy watched Hawkeye. He'd always admired his skill as a surgeon and his compassion as well. It was disappointing to see that he'd been robbed of the opportunity to be a father but he felt that God had another plan for the Pierces.
"Well, Hawkeye," said Father said looking at his watch, "I have an appointment to keep. I hope you will think some more about what I said. You and Margaret have so much to offer."
Hawkeye sat looking at the floor as Father Mulcahy spoke. The priest made good sense. It was just too soon to think about it. He looked up and smiled through tears and said, "I will think about it, Father."
The two men embraced. Hawkeye smiled and said, "Goodbye...Francis...be well and safe."