|A trip to the Emergency Room|
Though it was already late March, someone had forgotten to notify Spring that her arrival had gone past fashionably late. The sidewalks were slick and icy, making walking difficult, and the cold bit their face as they hustled down the street. About midway to their destination, they were able to see the EMTs pulling a stretcher out the rectory door, followed by Fr. Kevin, his coat thrown over his arm. Maureen, realizing it must be her older brother, Patrick, on the stretcher, broke into a run. Out of breath, her nose running from the cold, she caught up to Kevin, as he was about to climb into the back of the ambulance.
"Kev...what's wrong? What's the matter with Patrick?" She tried to see inside the vehicle, but her view was blocked by a bevy of uniformed personnel, hooking her brother up to all manner of wires.
"Mo, I'm glad you're here. I was going to call you when we got to the hospital. They think Pat is having a heart attack. They're taking him straight to Jefferson Memorial. I'm going to ride with him in the ambulance. You go with Ted, and meet us there. He'll know where to go. That's where they took me when I was shot."
"Oh, Kevin, will he be all right? I'm scared."
"I'm not sure. He looked pretty awful, Mo, and he was in a lot of pain. We have to pray." Behind him, one of the paramedics called for him to hurry, "Look...I gotta go. We'll talk at the hospital, okay." He turned to speak to the Sheriff, who now stood next to Maureen." Please take care of my sister, Beckett. I'll catch up with you guys at the hospital ER."
Ted nodded, and taking Maureen by the arm, led her back to where the Mustang was parked. Seeing the ambulance speed away, sirens blaring, her tears began in earnest. Ted gave her a quick hug, and brushing off the passenger door, had her slide inside while he finished clearing off the car. It took a only a few swipes, and he joined her. Tugging under his seat, he pulled out a domed cherry light, and reaching up through the window, put it on the top of the hood. With their own flashing lights, they took off in pursuit of the ambulance.
The Emergency Room of Jefferson Memorial was surprisingly empty . As it was the only trauma center in town, the drab painted room was usually filled to capacity with the community's walking wounded. This early Friday morning, the youngest O'Kenney siblings, and the Sheriff, shared the room with one reeking drunk, an elderly woman with a walker, and a set of frantic parents parent rocking a screeching baby. After arriving at the ER, Patrick was rushed into a room full of harried doctors and nurses, and Kevin was ushered to the waiting room with the promise that someone would keep him updated. He had hoped to administer the Sacrament of the Sick to his brother, but was pushed out of the room before he could entirely finish.
In all truth, he was greatly relieved when his sister and the Sheriff finally made it to the hospital. Having Maureen there made him feel better, and Beckett was, as usual, a calm and confident presence. They had only been waiting 10 minutes, when the cardiologist came out to speak to them about Pat's condition. Dr. Salmon confirmed that Patrick indeed was suffering from cardiac arrest, due to a 100% blockage of his stenotic left main coronary artery. They were prepping him for what they hoped would be a routine angioplasty, and an insertion of a stent, but required next of kin's signature allowing them to preform by-pass surgery if necessary.
Kevin had been desperately trying to reach Patrick's wife, Eileen, for the past hour, without success. He couldn't, for the life of him, figure out why at 2:30AM, she wouldn't be home to answer the phone, and assumed she must be sleeping too heavily to hear it. As he and Maureen were the only family members available, Kevin was forced to give his approval for full chest cutting surgery if the doctor found that Patrick required it. Once the release was signed, the doctor was off, leaving the three of them to worry and wait.
Tired of pacing, Fr. Kevin took out his rosary and began praying, and Maureen followed suit. Beckett watched them for a few awhile, but feeling awkward, went off in search of a coffee respite. When Maureen was sure that Ted was out of ear shot, she stopped in mid decade, and spoke in hushed tones to her brother.
"This is all my fault, you know. I'm to blame for Patrick having this heart attack. All the stress I caused him." She gripped the rosary tighter in her hand, and rubbed her fingers over the smooth beads. "First with all that...stuff...that happened in Boston."
Kevin only nodded. She knew damned well she had told him all about the Boston incident under the sanctity of the confessional, and he wasn't able to discuss it. But his focus right this moment was on Patrick, and he was in no mood to have a pastoral discussion with his errant sister.
She took his silence as an invitation to continue. "Pat was mortified by all the gossip about me around the diocese. That last time I met with him before I left Boston, he was so angry, and his face got all red and sweaty. I should have known something was wrong. It was stupid to just run off like I did. Should have listened to him, and stayed in Boston. Now I've gone and given him a heart attack." She grabbed the sleeve of Kevin's coat, and whined, "If anything happens to him, Kev, I don't know how I'll ever live with myself."
Years of dealing with his sister's drama had taught him the expected response. She wanted...needed... to be righted, rescued, and repeatedly reassured. And in normal circumstances, as her older brother, he had been happy to play that role. But sitting here in the emergency room, his head pounding from the generous amount of Jameson imbued over dinner, his stomach rolling with worry, he just didn't have it in him, and his response sounded nasty, even to his own ears.
"That's a totally stupid statement, Mo. Believe it or not, this is about Patrick... not you. You heard the doctor. His artery is totally clogged. And it's no surprise. Look at the way he eats and drinks. The man has an absolute aversion to anything healthy. He lives on red meat and alcohol. And frankly, he should know better. Especially after Dad."
Her expression changed from stricken to annoyed, but the appearance of Ted with the coffee saved him from sisterly retribution. She closed her mouth, and turned her attention towards her beau, reaching for the paper cup he offered "Thanks, Ted. You're such a sweetie." She turned her back on her brother, squeezed Beckett's hand, and smiled. "I'm so glad it's you here with me. I'd be lost without you."
Satisfied that Maureen was occupied with the Sheriff, Kevin used the opportunity to slip away and use his cell phone. It was a pain to walk clear down the hall to another room just to make a phone call, but the ER walls were covered with signs forbidding their use. In addition, it was somewhat of a relief to let Beckett handle Mo for a bit, a job he clearly relished.
Once in the other lounge, Kevin tried dialing Patrick's house phone, but there was still no answer, which left him terribly uneasy. He didn't have Eileen's cell number, so having no other choice, and desperately needing to unburden himself of sole responsibility, he dialed his brother Jaimie. He listened to it ring a few times before someone picked it up, and answered in a sleep roughed voice.
"Jaimie? It's Kevin." He paused, and thinking further explanation was necessary, added, "Your brother."
"I know who the hell you are, Kev. It's like 3:00AM. What's wrong?"
"I'm calling about Patrick. He's...we're at the hospital. Me and Maureen. And Patrick. They think he had a heart attack. He's in surgery now... having angioplasty. Or at least we hope it's just angioplasty. They couldn't be sure how much damage he'd suffered."
"Shit! Are you sure?"
"Ummm...yeah. I'm sure. I'm calling from the hospital. We talked to the cardiologist about half hour ago."
"Damn. I was worried about him. His last blood test was awful. Did the doc say Pat was gonna be okay?"
"He was non-committal. But he said he'd come out and talk to us as soon as he was done working on Pat, so I can't talk long. I need to be there when he comes back. Plus, I don't want to leave Maureen in the waiting room by herself." He decided there was no reason to mention Beckett. At least not now.
"I understand. Let me know what's going on as soon as you hear, okay. I'll take care of notifying everyone else. You just focus on Pat at your end."
"Thanks, Jaimie. That would sure be helpful. I'll call you back as soon as we talk to the doctor. Hey, before I hang up, do you have Eileen's cell number. I've tried calling their house a dozen times, and she doesn't answer. I'm hoping she keeps her cell close by."
There was dead silence on the other end, and then he heard Jaimie sigh. "I guess you don't know."
"I'm sure Patrick meant to tell you. He just probably hadn't gotten around to it."
"Tell me what, Jaimie? Stop playing games, and spit it out."
"Eileen left him. Right after the holidays. Packed up, and moved out. Never said a word in advance. Pat came home from work sometime the first week of January, and she was gone. All I know is she's hired a lawyer, and won't talk to the rest of us. Keeps insisting it's "for the best". I tried talking to Patrick about it, but he just gets defensive. You know how he is. All bluster and bark."
The news left Kevin stunned. Patrick and Eileen had been together for almost twenty-five years. And although his brother had been difficult to live with, he had thought their marriage unshakable. It was hard to know which was worse. The fact that the two of them seemed on the verge of splitting up, or the realization that not one of his siblings had bothered to tell him.
"Wow. I don't know what to say. It's hard to think about the two of them not being together." He wanted to rail at Jaimie for leaving him out of the loop. For once again excluding him among the brothers. But this was neither the time, nor the place, to air his grievances, so he swallowed his hurt feelings, and finished the conversation. "Well, we have to tell her, Jaimie. About the heart attack. They were married for twenty-five years. She has a right to know. Plus, I think it's her place to tell Ian and Colin. We shouldn't be calling them at school to tell them about their dad. Not without talking to Eileen first."
"You're probably right, Kev. But, it can't be me. I called her right after she moved out, and the conversation didn't go well. We haven't spoken since. I doubt she'd even listen to me."
"Then give me her cell number, and I'll try calling her. She's always been a very compassionate woman, as well as pretty level headed. I'm confident she'll want to come down here, and be with Patrick."
"Suit yourself, Kevin. But I'm telling you...whatever went down between the two them was serious shit, and I'm not sure a few words from you, as pretty as they might be, is going to change things."
"I have to at least try, Jaimie. It's the right thing to do."
Phone numbers were exchanged, as well as promises to keep in touch. Kevin hung up on Jamie with a heavy heart, and if he thought the whole drama couldn't get any worse, he was sadly mistaken. He reached his sister-in-law, who was polite, but firm in her decision to remain in Boston. She immediately committed to calling her sons about their father's illness, but cut off any conversation regarding the issues between she and her estranged husband, leaving Kevin with little more to say.
As he walked back to the ER waiting room, he wondered what he'd say to Maureen. Eileen was her godmother, and when she went to live with them during her high school years, they had become very close. He hated to add to the already heightened stress of the day, knowing his sister would take the news badly.
So when he sat her down to explain the situation, and watched as she didn't bat an eye, he was momentarily confused. But then she spoke, and suddenly everything was clear.
"Well good for, her! She finally got the guts to do it! I don't know why the hell she waited as long as she did."
"Are you telling me that you knew about this in advance? And you said nothing? Didn't try to talk her out it? Didn't at least try and warn Patrick she was contemplating leaving him? What the hell were you thinking Maureen?"
Beckett, hoping to avoid a major scene, injected, "Look guys, maybe you can discuss..."
Kevin was back at him in an instant. "This is family business, Beckett. It's no concern of yours, so butt out!"
The Sheriff raised his hands in mock surrender, and closed his mouth.
Maureen grabbed at his sleeve, and pulled herself closer, scowling at her brother. "You leave Ted alone, Kevin. He's here with me, and if you don't like it, too damn bad! We both know that Patrick is a jerk, and Eileen's had to deal with his controlling ways long enough. No woman should have to put up with a man telling her what to do."
Next to her, Beckett arched an eyebrow over the comment, but wisely, held his tongue. Round Two was interrupted by the reappearance of Dr. Salmon with news about their brother.
"The procedure went well. We cleaned out the artery, and put in a stent to keep it clear. He has blockage in two other areas, but it's prudent to wait on those until he's more stable. They're taking him to recovery now, and he'll be there for about three hours until we can be sure the incision isn't going to bleed. Your brother is a very lucky man, Father. If you hadn't been as quick to get him here as you were, I doubt he would have survived this heart attack. They call this type of blockage "The Widow Maker". He's going to have to make some serious life style changes if he wants to avoid a repeat of tonight."
Kevin stood, and shook the man's hand. "Thank you, Doctor. We certainly appreciate all you've done. Can we see him?"
"You can stay with him in the Recovery Room, but only one of you at a time. After we're sure the incision is clotted, we'll admit him to the Cardiac Unit. He can have regular visitors there. I'll be around later this morning to check on him."
With a handshake all around, the cardiologist left, and Kevin headed toward the recovery area to be with his brother. He hadn't even considered offering Maureen the opportunity, feeling her siding with his sister-in-law, Eileen, was equal to sibling treason. No matter how hard, and how often they fought among themselves, the eight of them had always stood firm in defending one another from those outside the family. Maureen's breach of loyalty was beyond his immediate understanding and forgiveness, and he left her in the waiting room with Beckett without an additional word.
A nurse pointed him in the right direction, and he found Patrick in a small curtained room near the back of the station. He pushed aside the cloth to find his brother lying inert on a gurney, his face the color of gray ash, and his eyes closed. At first, his heart skipped a beat, as the eldest O'Kenney looked like he was no longer among the living. But a quick glance at the monitor screen told him otherwise. The arching lines on the monitor showed a heart beating strong and healthy, and he was instantly relieved.
The RR nurse noticed Kevin standing there, and shook Patrick's shoulder. "Mr. O'Kenney, you have a visitor."
Patrick opened one blood shot, green eye, the same color as Maureen's, and peered at his brother in the doorway. "Ah, Fr. Kevin. I hope you're not here to give me Last Rites." He chuckled weakly at his own joke, and spoke to the nurse. "My little brother here is the Pastor at Holy Family Church. Pretty impressive, huh?"
The nurse patted Patrick's arm. "You're lucky to have such a caring family, Mr. O'Kenney. Especially one with connections upstairs. You were needing them tonight." She pointed heavenwards, smiling as she did so.
"That I am, ma'am. That I am." He pointed to a chair next to the bed. "Sit, Kevin. They tell me I'm gonna be here awhile."
Kevin slid into the chair, and took his brother's hand. "How ya feeln', Pat?"
Patrick smiled weakly. "Guess about as good as can be expected. I was awake for the whole procedure, ya know. Rather disconcerting to watch on a TV screen while they stick wires up your leg, and into your heart."
Kevin nodded, having nothing to compare with. "I called Jaimie. He's gonna notify the rest of the family. He's sends his best, and says to tell you not to be slackn' off down here."
Patrick grinned. "Ya gotta love, Jaimie. He always tells ya like it is." He shifted in the bed, trying to pull himself to a sitting position, causing the nurse to come over, and push him back down.
"You know the rules, Mr. O'Kenney. No moving for at least three hours. We don't want to open up that incision, do we?"
Patrick gave her a mock salute, but settled himself back down, resuming his conversation with Kevin. "Kev, I want you to call my boys. You have a way of making things sound not so bad, and I don't want either of them freaking out, and coming down here. They're four weeks from the end of the semester. They need to keep their focus on their studies, and finish strong."
Kevin's nephews were both away at school. Ian was a senior at Georgetown, and Colin was at Loyola in New Orleans, and they were the pride of their father's existence. But discussing the boys meant discussing their mother, and Kevin was apprehensive about what would come next. "Sure, Pat. I'll call both Ian, and Colin." He wrung his hands, and decided to just get the hard part over with. "Jaimie told me about Eileen. About the two of you." He waited for a response, and when there was none, he continued. "I called her and told her about what was happening here."
Patrick looked away. "And she's not coming, right?"
Kevin shook his head. "No. But, she sends her best. Hopes you're feeling better soon."
The flash of contempt in his brother's eyes reminded Kevin more of the real Patrick. "Just as well. I'm through with that woman."
"Look, Pat. I know sometimes people get trapped in an argument, and it seems like there's no way out. But, you guys love each other and I know if you would just sit down and..."
"Spare me the Pre-Cana bullshit, Kevin. You have no idea of what it's like in the real world. Where you got people coming at you from all directions. If she thinks she's better off without me, so be it."
"You have to at least try, Patrick. For the the sake of your family."
"Drop it, Kevin. I'm not discussing my marital issues with you." He closed his eyes, and stayed silent for a few moments, then asked, "Is Red here?"
"Yes, she's in the ER waiting room."
"Why don't you go, and send her in here. I need to speak to her." He turned his head, and stared at the wall, a signal that Kevin had been officially dismissed.
A mix of emotions, Kevin headed back to the Maureen and Beckett. "He wants to see, you Maureen."
She grabbed her purse, ran a brush through her hair, and slid some lip gloss over her lips. When she noticed the two men looking at her curiously, she stated, "He always comments if I look messy. I'm trying to avoid riling him up." Then standing up, she marched off in the direction Kevin had just come from.
The two of them watched her walk away, and Beckett asked, "How is he?"
Kevin made a face, not wanting the Sheriff to know that he had been replaced by Maureen without a second thought. "I guess he's doing well. He's back to being his usual asshole self."
Beckett refused to comment, as anything he might say would lead to being told once again to mind his own business. So instead, he picked up an old magazine from the rack near the door, and pretended to be interested in an article about natural garden composting.
They waited in uncomfortable unease, until about fifteen minutes later, when Maureen returned to the waiting room, eyes swollen and red. Alarmed, both of them stood up.
"Mo, what's wrong? Did something happen to Pat?"
Beckett grabbed her waist, and led her to a chair to sit. "What's up, sweetheart? Why were you crying?"
Taking a tissue from her purse, she blow her nose none too daintily, and with a loud sniffle announced, "When Patrick goes back home, I'm leaving with him. I'm moving back to Boston."
Copyright 2013 Victoria T. Rocus
All Rights Reserved