Enriqué Weaver-Lopez


AUTHOR: Toby Rollins
EMAIL: amm@together.net
CATEGORY: KW
RATING: PG-13
SPOILERS: Season 9
DISCLAIMER: Who owns these characters? The same folks who have chosen not to give Kerry and Sandy any airtime. The same folks who refuse to allow Kerry to be happy. Warner Brothers. I just had to write this to give Kerry a little happiness and to complete a few lose ends of storylines.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Written to close two story lines and to give Kerry some happiness
SUMMARY: Kerry & Sandy Adopt



++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Boy Who Fell From The Sky - age 3

He was small. Underweight. Probably from early childhood neglect, malnutrition. Kerry tried not to think about it. He was eating well now, who could not in Kerry’s household? He straddled her left calf, facing her as she sat on the couch, and held her hands tightly as if he never wanted her to let go.

“Elevator up!” Enriqué insisted. “Up!”

“That elevator is out-of order” laughed Kerry. “Switch to the other elevator”

The bronze skinned boy, a café au lait brown very unlike Sandy’s beautiful reddish-brown hue, sidled over to Kerry’s right leg. There she easily lifted him 6 or 7 times before announcing that “the elevator is finished for the day”. He had deep brown hair and serious eyes.

“Bath time” announced Kerry. She stood still holding both of Enriqué’s hands. Speaking to him like an adult she continued, “After your bath, by the time you get into your pajamas, Mami will be home from work to read you a story.”

The three year old accepted this and releasing one hand, allowed Kerry to pick up her crutch from where it leaned against the arm of the couch. They walked down the hall together to the bathroom. Kerry peeled off Enriqué’s clothes while warm water filled the tub. She sat on the floor in her awkward way, leaning into the bath, splashing the boy and washing him with a cloth that looked like a duck. She made quacking sounds as she gently rubbed his body. Enriqué laughed as they played.

Sure enough, as Kerry, still seated on the floor, pulled the Spiderman pajama top over Enriqué’s wet head, Sandy stuck her head in the door.

“Hey, guys, I’m home!”

“Mami!” Enriqué, half dressed, pulled away from Kerry and hugged Sandy tightly around the neck.

“How’s my boy?” Her eyes shone.

“Good. I’m clean!” shrieked the boy as he ran butt naked out into the hall.

The women looked at one another and laughed. “Hey, hon. How are you?” Sandy quickly asked, kissing her partner’s head.

“Excellent” Kerry said. “Just fine.” Deftly flipping over onto her knees she pushed herself up to standing. Chuckling she handed the pajama bottoms to Sandy who turned and raced down the hall intoning “I’m gonna get you, I’m gonna get you, Novio.” She gathered a laughing Enriqué in her arms as she flung him onto his bed for his bedtime story.

++++

“This is the story of Marisol and Magdalena” she began. They had read this one many times before. Sandy was alongside Enriqué holding the book, her legs stretched the length of his bed. Kerry, after rinsing out the tub, lingered in the doorway to the boy’s room just as Marisol’s search for her real father in Panama was coming to an end. Kerry smiled as she thought of all the Latino books that Sandy loved to read to their son and her pride when she explained to him that these books were a special part of their bond. Of course, having him in the living room with them while they watched DVD’s of “Frida” and “The Blue Diner” was of questionable cultural value for a mere three year old but it caused no harm. Kerry loved to listen to Spanish whenever she had the opportunity so they tried to rent as many Latino movies as they could. Sandy even said her accent wasn’t half bad.

++++++

Kerry had popped out her contacts and was reading a medical journal in bed with her cute wire rim glasses on when Sandy finally came down the hall to their room.

“Hey…” she put down the journal.

“Hey you…” Sandy leaned one knee on Kerry’s side of the bed and bent to kiss her. “Ummmm. I missed you.”

“Where did you learn so much about kids?” teased Kerry.

“You know…. I’m one of eight, Ker. I’m a natural.” She laughed.

“Sandy.” Kerry was suddenly serious.

“Yeah, Hon?”

“Thank you.”

“For what?”

“For everything. I don’t think I’ve even been so happy.”

“Sure, Babe.” Sandy looked at her seriously now. “Why is it exactly that kids make you so happy again?” She ran her hand lovingly through her partner’s short hair.

“…I’m not sure. I guess I just like watching them unfold. And hope that maybe we can influence the outcome of someone’s life for the better.”

Sandy kissed her deeply. “I love you, Hon.”

“Oh yeah?” Kerry lay her glasses down on the night table and all in one deft movement flipped her partner sideways onto the bed and pinned her with her body.

“Sandy, you are so beautiful..”

“Shhhh”

+++++

She held Enriqué’s hand as they passed the ER admit desk.

“Hey, Doctor Weaver.” Jerry called out.

“Good morning, Jerry. Why is the board so full?” She purposely liked to head up to daycare this way, bringing her son through her work world, allowing the staff a few moments to throw her the most pressing questions of the morning before she headed to the elevators. Allowing them to see her as a real person, even though it was fleeting. Even though it was a longer walk. She could have entered the building through the main entrance, fewer bloody traumas and less confusion for a child but she decided it was all right. Both of his mothers were in helping, critical care professions. He heard the language of their day at home. He seemed to think nothing of the activities in the ER.

Chen answered her query instead. “Multi-MVA came in at 5:30. Mostly minors. Only a few left to suture and one waiting for an OR.”

Kerry nodded. “Did third shift stay over?”

“Only Carter. We have it pretty much under control now.”

“OK, thanks. I’ll be right down.” Enriqué pushed the “up” button on the elevator panel. She spoke to him as they rode up to the 4th floor.

“You have a great day, sweetie, OK? Mami will pick you up when she gets off her shift.” He nodded. “Here is your lunch.” She handed him his Spiderman lunch box and he took it in his small fist. They got off the elevator still holding hands and Kerry walked with him into the colorful room. “Bye, honey. I’ll see you tonight.” She kissed his head before he went to put his lunch away in the fridge then she rode back down to the ER taking a large breath of air before stepping out into the fluorescence.

“What the hell are these boxes doing in the hall? JERRY!”

++++

Tuesday. Kerry squinted tightly to be able to make out the time on the digital clock. 4:58 AM. She rarely set the alarm, able since Med School to will herself awake at whatever hour was necessary. She allowed herself the brief two minutes of luxury to savor the feel of the soft flannel sheets on her body, the warmth of Sandy nearby. Then she swung out of bed, stood briefly in the dark before reaching for her crutch and made her way down the hall to the kitchen. Sandy wasn’t on till 9:00 so she was as quiet as possible. Having set the coffee maker the night before, the strong French Roast coffee was perked and waiting, thank god. She poured a mug of the steaming liquid, added a dash of milk and standing with her back against the counter, pushed back her hair with one hand as she lifted the mug with the other, sipped deeply and sighed.

Immediately small feet pattered towards her in the half-lit kitchen.

“Mom?”

“Sweetie! What are you doing up so early?”

“I had a dream…”

“Oh…” commiserated Kerry as she placed her mug back on the counter “A bad dream? Was it scary?”

The boy nodded his head.

“Come to Mom.” She held open her hands. As he approached she scooped him up in her powerful arms and lifted him to her. “It’s OK now. You’re OK.” Kerry just held him tightly.

“I don’t want to leave” Enriqué whined.

“Sweetie….” Kerry ran one hand through the boy’s sweaty hair. “You will never leave here. Mami and I adopted you forever.”

“Dopted?” he seemed unsure.

“Yes. Adopted. That means we are your mommies and you are our little boy and the three of us will be together until you are all grown up and big.”

Enriqué wrapped one arm around Kerry’s neck as she intoned “I promise.”

+++++

Ever since the evening when she realized that given her poor prognosis for IVF and Sandy had confirmed her unwillingness to even consider the procedure for herself, she had settled upon adopting instead. She just felt like there was something missing in their lives. Not love, not commitment, something else. Kerry knew they each had enough energy for the task. She was 40 and Sandy was a mere 38. She had dreamed for so many years now of having a family. Her own family. First, she had imagined finding that sense of family, of a wider belonging with her birth mother. Clearly that hadn’t materialized. Then she had desperately wanted In Vitro to work. They had spent close to $10,000 all told on the process. She had endured the hormones that wreaked havoc with her system. She had finally plunged with equal enthusiasm and commitment into the adoption process. Surprisingly enough, an inter-racial, lesbian adoption with one disabled partner was not the labyrinth of problems and stalling that they had anticipated. They met 3 year old Enriqué just two months into the process and fell in love immediately.

Saturday morning. He crawled into their bed. Each of the two women still half asleep, felt him digging down under the covers until he finally came to rest and fell back asleep clasping Kerry’s left leg with one arm and Sandy’s right with the other. Kerry smiled to herself, drifting back into the arms of Morpheous with the sweet feeling of innocence.

++++

“OK story time, but this one really happened to Mami today, OK? It’s a true story. We responded to a box alarm. The 38th was the only company there. My men took the C side. The back door was locked so I had to swing the Halligan to get in. We went in with air packs first and checked out the structure for anyone who might be, you know, trapped in there. Division A was already dousing with a forward line so it was pretty hard to walk around but we called the all-clear and backed out to grab the handlines and hold them on the rear. After the fire was out we checked the other exposures nearby, they were all clear, and then drove back to the station.”

“Who was engineer?” Enriqué asked while breathing kind of heavily thinking of the excitement.

“That was me, Chico. I was driving tonight.”

“Are you, OK, Sweetheart?” Sandy had not even heard Kerry walk up to the doorway where she was now leaning, hands free. She looked concerned.

“Yeah, sure. Just a routine call. Just routine.”


Heather Has Two Mommies - age 9

She was cooking dinner, tossing vegetable pieces as she chopped them into a large wok. Enriqué was doing his homework at the dining room table. Kerry loved looking up from time to time, seeing him bent over his work concentrating. Or so she thought.

“Mom?”

“Yes, Hon?”

“Can I ask you something?”

“Sure.” She shrugged.

“Why do kids think having two moms is so weird?” Kerry put down her knife as he continued. “Why do they say it’s impossible to have two moms?”

Kerry started slowly, moving around the counter to be closer to him. “Riqué, remember the story Mami used to read you when you were little? The one about La Mariposa?”

“ You mean the one about when Francisco goes to school and only speaks Spanish but then gets into learning about this caterpillar in the tank in his classroom?” He was nine now and hadn’t read that book in years but still remembered.

“Yes, Sweetie. That’s the one.” She sat on a barstool at the counter facing her son. “Francisco was the only boy in his class who did not speak English. That made him different and kids have a hard time understanding kids who are different from them. You know how most kids have a dad and a mom?” She didn’t really want to get into a biology discussion right now let alone Sex Ed. but something in his tone demanded elaboration. “Well, biologically a dad and a mom can have a child like your birth mom and dad had you. But biologically two moms like Mami and I cannot. So biologically, it is impossible. We really wanted you so to have you, we had to adopt you instead. It’s not weird but it is different from what most of your classmates have experienced.”

Kerry looked at him intently to see whether or not she should go on. “Sometimes,” she paused “those of us who are different have an extra responsibility in life. It doesn’t seem fair, I know, but it is our job to educate other people about differences. To show other kids that we are just regular people like them even though there is something about us that may be a little different from what they think they are used to. Sometimes that seems like work, a job we don’t deserve but in the end we are really helping other people to learn to accept diversity, you know, different types of people. It’s a good thing.”

“OK. I get it.” He immediately went back to his homework. Kerry watched him for a moment longer and then pushed off the barstool and went back to preparing dinner.

++++++++

Kerry had, for many years, accommodated the personal needs of her staff when making up the shift schedules. Even though she easily could have relinquished this task to the Chief Attending when she took over the Chief of Staff job, retaining it now allowed her to pencil in her own needs, most importantly to make all of Enriqué’s soccer games. After years of working Christmas, third shift or back-to-backs, she felt she deserved this. No, it wasn’t that really. It was that she wanted it for the first time. Before it had just never mattered. She almost always made it to games before the second period, parking the car close-by on the edge of the field. She would stand there, leaning against the car apart from the other moms (and the very occasional dad) until the final whistle blew. Then grabbing a sweat shirt to pull over her son’s perspiring head she would walk carefully over the grass towards the pack of kids to embrace Enriqué’s excitement.

One afternoon, one of the other moms ambled off the field mid-game and joined Kerry at the car. “It’s nice over here. You can’t hear the coach treating the kids as if they were Olympic hopefuls and his professional life somehow depended on it.”

Kerry chuckled. “Hi. I’m Kerry Weaver.” She extended her hand.

“You’re Enriqué’s mom. Hi. I’m Marsha. Marsha Tolland.” She had a firm handshake. Kerry liked that in a woman.

“You’re…....”

“Pat’s mother.” She pointed vaguely out towards the field.

“Yes, of course. Enriqué likes Pat a lot. He speaks of him often. Of course. Yeah, that ‘Little League parent’ syndrome is a frightening thing, isn’t it?”

“Umm” Marsha nodded her assent as she watched Enriqué dribble the ball until he got an assist on a goal.

“He’s good you know.”

“His other mom coaches him at home.”

Marsha looked at Kerry “Other mom?”

“My partner, Sandy.”

“Oh.” Marsha got it. She only hesitated for a millisecond. “Well, all that practice obviously pays off.”

++++

Seemingly there was not much homework assigned in 4th grade. During Winter months, Enriqué seemed to have time on his hands in the afternoons since there was no soccer practice as there was in the Fall or Little League as there was in the Spring. Kerry taught him how to play chess and he became very serious about the game.

One Thursday after Kerry picked him up at school, they drove home through the snow and decided in the car that they would start a tournament; just the two of them; best of five. As soon as they got home, Enriqué wanted to start. Kerry made hot chocolate and they set up the board, as usual, on the coffee table in the living room. The boy sat quickly on the floor on one side, excited at the prospect of competition. Kerry slid her back down the edge of the couch and sat on the floor as well, legs outstretched.

They played in relative silence, each concentrating on their game. Kerry loved to watch her son during the time he spent planning a move. She felt an odd sort of inflation of her chest, most literally, as he carefully thought out each move. Occasionally, in the past when she had been quite tired after a bad day in the ER, he had beaten her at the game. Now she was actually staying alert so as not to misstep.

Today, Kerry eventually beat her opponent. He sighed heavily and stood quickly.

“You won again, mom.”

She pulled her left leg towards her with her hands and pushed herself up to stand. Straightening, she transferred some weight to her left, testing.

“No, that was a great game, Riqué.” She beamed at him as she reached for her crutch. “I notice that you are thinking two and sometimes even three moves ahead which is excellent, really brilliant.” She returned her mug to the sink.

“Yeah, but you won.”

“Hey, you might well win next time. You are a really intelligent player.” She kissed the top of his head. He smiled in embarrassment.

“Really?”

“Yeah, really” Kerry tousled his hair. Right then they heard Sandy turn her key in the door. Both turned with smiles towards the entranceway, eager to greet her.

++++++

After school on Fridays, Enriqué usually walked over to the Fire Station to do his homework, if he had any, or just to hang out. It was the one day of the week that Kerry and Sandy couldn’t make their schedule work out to have someone home in the afternoon. The guys in the 38th all loved Enriqué and treated him like he was some sort of mascot. He loved sitting in the rec room with the firefighters, listening to their jokes and kidding around with them. If an alarm came in while he was there, he worked quietly at the table or watched the television until they returned all the while listening to Dispatch in the background over the squawk box describe the movements of the various fire divisions around the city. He loved being there and seeing Sandy at work, the respect the guys had for her, how she put her life on the line every day for people. He thought he might be a firefighter when he grew up.

+++++++

“Marsha” Kerry opened the door wide. “Come on in.”

“Hi, Kerry. You give good directions, the house was easy to find.”

“This house is just incredible.” Marsha literally swung her gaze back and forth across the open interior. “Does it have a certain name..I mean, a style? It’s beautiful.”

“Yeah, as a matter of fact” Kerry began as she headed for the coffee maker “it’s called ‘transgenerational architecture’. The premise is that the space is compatible with all age groups and their physical needs.”

“Sort of a cousin to accessibility?”

“Exactly.” Kerry nodded as she poured the coffee. “But with a much wider reach. The thinking was that traditional accessible design didn’t really appeal to enough people and in fact, brought down property values. So in transgen design there may be no thresholds, wider doorways, raised outlets, stuff like that but it encompasses a whole architectural style and feel really. It was invented by a guy named Jim Pirkl.”

“No high cabinets…. differing counter heights…” Marsha continued while looking around.

“Right” Kerry slid a mug across the counter to the other woman and then moved to join her.

“And the floor is made of…?”

“Cork.” Kerry responded quickly “It’s cork which is easy to clean, lays flat, feels good underfoot...”

“Huh.” Marsha sipped her coffee thoughtfully for a moment. She turned to look at Kerry. “ I’ll bet that after a full day of dealing with the inaccessible or at least physically challenging outside world this feels like a small oasis”

Kerry blushed but smiled “That’s exactly how it feels.” She paused but then went on. “Marsha, I knew I liked you from the get-go. Now I know why Riqué likes Pat so much.”

Marsha laughed. “Well, I don’t really know how much credit I can claim for that, you know. Kids are really their own people.”

“Yeah,” Kerry persisted, “but whether you believe in nature or nurture, either way he’s a chip off the old block.

++++

Sandy was in the shower. She was taking their son to Little League practice at 9:00. Enriqué waited impatiently with his mitt in the living room, pretending to catch imaginary balls; narrating the pop flies and outs thrown to first. Kerry was leaning against the kitchen counter poring over recipes, trying to decide what to bring to the ER department’s cookout the following day. As she stepped over to the bookshelf to grab “Southwestern Specialties for the Grill” she grimaced slightly, involuntarily. She quickly forced herself to move past the feeling, brought the book back to the counter, and turned to ‘slaws’ in the index.

“Mom?”

“Um….” She didn’t look up immediately.

“Why does your leg hurt like that sometimes?”

Kerry slowed raised her eyes to meet the boy’s gaze. ‘Nine years old’ she thought to herself, marveling. She hesitated for a moment. “It’s just not that strong, that’s all.”

“No really.” He came to sit opposite her on the other side of the kitchen counter. “I mean exactly.”

“Exactly?”

Enriqué confirmed this with a serious nod.

“OK. Want me to show you?” Kerry inclined her head towards him as she asked, opening her eyes wide to request confirmation.

The boy nodded a second time.

Kerry flipped to a clean sheet of paper on the pad on which she was making recipe notes. She held the pad sideways for the boy to see.

Kerry began to draw. “These are muscle fibers. Like in your legs. See… they are long skinny things - the muscle groups like…” she sketched carefully “…this and a chemical - lactic acid - builds up as you use your muscles. See here…” She pointed again looking carefully at the boy, assessing his interest. He seemed to be following. “OK, so you have lots of these fibers, thousands, and when your muscles are working for you, lots of this chemical is being made and eventually your muscles get tired and the chemical builds up too much..…like when you run and need to stop. Know what I mean?”

“Uh huh”

“So then what happens is that this group of muscle” she crossed out a few strands in the picture “ stops working to take a rest and these other groups of muscle fibers..” she pointed to another area of the drawing “take over instead so that you can keep running if you want. OK?”

“Yeah.”

“Well, what happens in my weak leg is, for starters, I don’t have as many groups of muscles as you do” She crossed out two thirds of the clusters in the picture.

“Why?”

“Well that is what happened when I was a kid and had polio. Those fibers were kind of… killed”

“Oh”

She continued. “So that when my muscles get tired and need a rest there are no other muscles to take over the work. So I have fewer muscle fibers doing more work and they just poop out more quickly on me. Make sense?”

“Yes.” He looked at her somewhat gravely.

“Sweetie, it’s OK.” He looked so solemn. Kerry chuckled slightly and ruffled his hair. “Everyone has something they have to put up with, right?”

“I guess.”

“Hey!” Kerry brightened as Sandy emerged from the bedroom wearing her New York Mets T-shirt. “Like we have to put up with a Met’s fan!” she joked

“Yeah.” Enriqué grabbed Sandy’s outstretched hand, then hesitated. He turned back and grabbed the piece of paper on which Kerry had been drawing, carefully folded it and placed it in his back pocket. “Let’s go!”

“Later, Mom.” Said Sandy as she kissed Kerry on the cheek.

“Later, Chica” she answered smiling as the pair raced out the door to the car.

True Colors - age 15

They sat at the kitchen counter together. Enriqué’s homework was spread out across the length of it. He was just starting intro to calculus in 9th grade.

“How about this one, Mom? If y = f(x) and a and L are numbers such that whenever x is close to a but not equal to a, f (x) is close to L?”

“You try first.” Kerry just looked at him.

“The limit of f(x) from x to a….”

“Yes…” Kerry encouraged him with her eyes.

“… = L.”

“Right!” She spread her palms upwards in a kind of triumph.

+++++

Kerry was traveling to Orlando to present at the North American Emergency Medicine conference which was being held at Disney World that year. She told Enriqué he could ask Pat to come with them if he wanted. She and Marsha decided that they felt comfortable letting them have the run of the place in the daytime while Kerry attended the sessions.

“Come on!” he waved Pat along towards the conference rooms. “OK. Now, act cool.” Enriqué instructed. There were no guards though, only lots of doctors milling around between workshops.

“Here it is!” Enriqué was all excited. “Here is Dolphin Ballroom B.”

“Ballroom?” Pat seemed alarmed.

“Yeah. Don’t worry, that’s just what they call it. She told me the name. I asked her.” Again he waved Pat through the door. “Come on!”

They stood way at the back by the table of handouts.

“There she is!” he whispered excitedly to his best friend. He pointed to the front where Kerry was fiddling with her laptop. The session got underway. No one seemed to care as they slid into seats in the last row. No need to crouch down, she would never spot them there. Enriqué was mesmerized. His own mother presenting her research to a room full of important doctors from all around the country. The sensation charged him with a current of heightened attention, love, awe and wonder all at once. She was speaking about her study of best practices related to the use of various plasma products, coagulants and generic O neg in differing traumas. It seemed like she was saying that different types of injuries responded differently to the fluids used and she had lots of statistics to back up what she was saying. His mother, all 5’ 4” of her stood confidently behind a lectern narrating a Power Point slide show depicting her work in creative, sometimes humorous ways. She got plenty of chuckles from the audience even though, of course, he knew it was serious subject. Kerry was a relaxed and confident speaker but he knew she had spent hours on this - days, even weeks but it was still impressive. He pictured her behind the podium clicking the mouse with her right hand, leaning heavily on the lectern with her left. But her delivery was smooth. She had no verbal ticks like “um” or “you know”. God, he loved her.

When she finished, she asked for questions and there were quite a few. He liked the respect behind the queries; “Dr. Weaver, what do you think about….” The boys exited quickly as the crowd stood after the last question. They heard the applause out in the hall. Enriqué grabbed Pat by the arm and drew him quickly out towards the hotel lobby.

“Wasn’t that cool?” he exploded, not even giving the other boy a chance to respond. “Wasn’t she neat?” Pat too was impressed but couldn’t really articulate his impression. “Yeah. Neat”

They met Kerry as planned at Mexico in EPCOT. She had chosen it because she could walk there from the hotel without having to bother with the awkward shuttle bus. Enriqué had instructed Pat in how to handle the discussion of their afternoon.

“So, how did it go, mom?” he asked after they were seated.

“OK. She shrugged. “It was fine. What did you two do?”

“Oh, we just hung out.” Enriqué looked at Pat.

“Are you guys having a good time?”

“Yah, mom. You kidding?”

Back at O’Hare, they retrieved the car from long term parking and headed home via The Kennedy. After dropping Pat off at his house, Enriqué spoke to his mother. “We heard your talk, you know.”

“What?” she vaguely responded. Kerry’s eyes stayed on the road.

“We went to hear your paper. Your presentation.”

She snuck a quick sidelong glance at him. “You did what?”

“I wanted to hear you. It was easy.” He turn slightly in his seat to face her. “Mom, you were awesome.” She was smiling and shaking her head side to side in disbelief.

“You were really awesome!.”

+++

It was also the year that Sandy made Captain. She already had several stars for distinguished service, both as commander of the Incident Management Team on a couple of disasters and for her performance in leading her division in critical blazes. Enriqué and Kerry both attended the ceremony for her promotion. They loved watching how her company respected her yet treated her like one of the guys. The two of them took her out to dinner afterwards while she was still in full, dress uniform.


Chip off the Block - age 18

Enriqué had inherited Kerry’s love of the kitchen. As a senior in High School he would often pick up a few groceries after school and carry them to the 38th in time to prepare dinner for the guys. The firefighter on KP that night would easily relinquish his duty for a meal cooked by the gourmet kid. Kerry’s ‘student’ would whip up veal marsala or chicken cacciatore just as easily as the traditional firehouse chili that he periodically made as part of the Hot-To-Trot contest in which the men of the 38th competed to see who could eat the most of the hottest.

++++
Both Kerry and Sandy were dressed and ready to head out the door by 2:00. Graduation was at 3:00 and they anticipated some traffic. As usual it was Enriqué that held them back. He was class valedictorian, nervous about his presentation and had kept going over and over the notes past the time he should have been in the shower and dressing. Sandy was losing her patience. Kerry flipped through a back-issue of JAMA without really reading. She glanced up at her partner and smiled. Sandy looked gorgeous in her red leather pants and silk blouse. The outfit showed her sculpted body to advantage. Kerry wore a beige jacket that she knew showed off her hair well with her usual black pants and a beige top.

“Riqué, honey. You better move it.” shouted Sandy in the direction of the shower.

“Coming.” The nerves in his voice rising.

The High School auditorium was fairly packed by the time they got there. They were lucky to get two seats together in the back of the hall. Kerry sat on the aisle. They had no idea what their son planned to say. It had been kept as a closely guarded mystery. That added to the emotion each of them felt as they sat through the opening ceremony. Their son was introduced by the principal of the school:

“Ladies and Gentlemen, it may sound cliché to make certain glowing comments about the year’s valedictorian. Those of you who have attended previous graduations here, perhaps, of another child of yours or even, dare I admit how old I am, your own graduation…” he got a few laughs here “ have heard me say how proud I am of the valedictorian, but in fact, in all honesty, this valedictorian is special. Special because he has made his mark on the sports field, in the classroom, in the community and because I personally have been moved by his ability to bring people together by serving as a role model, and by his intelligence and good humor. I present to you this year’s class valedictorian, Enriqué Weaver-Lopez.”

One would never have known of his recent case of nerves as the 18 year old took the podium. He appeared relaxed, almost languid in his movements. He smiled out into the room of 800 or so guests, gripped the sides of the lectern lightly and began as soon as the clapping died back.

“In considering about what to speak today, I thought of all the really important themes that might be appropriate: world peace, civic duty, working for a better society… but clearly there are more qualified thinkers than I to advise us on these huge topics. There are women and men out there in government, in science, philosophers, writers and people working in think tanks who can expound on the great and important issues facing us today. Instead, I decided that I should speak from experience. To speak about what I truly know because I have lived it, seen it. Today is a jumping off point for us as we launch ourselves into the world to make our own way, find our own path. And what we will all have in common which we can use to make a difference as we head out into the world is family. The family we choose for ourselves, the family we create, the family we build. How we act, what we do, how we live within our own smallest, most intimate circle of family can change the world. We can begin, at home, in college, wherever we ultimately make our own niche, to foster peace and understanding between people. We can embrace diversity. We can celebrate the wonderful differences that exist between people, all by how we create, foster and sustain family”

Sandy and Kerry listened with slack jaws and tried to stay dry eyed. Kerry felt her love go bittersweet as she thought of this boy, this man, leaving for Stanford in the Fall.

++++++

He was still packing CD’s into a box at 9:30 when Kerry was ready to turn in for the night. She had scheduled herself for a 6:00 AM shift in the morning so that she didn’t have to deal with real goodbyes, so that she didn’t have to feel useless as he and Sandy packed up the car, so that she could just move on with her life.

She just stood in his doorway watching for a moment.

“I’m on at 6:00” she apologized.

He looked up at her.

“Remember to spell Sandy at the wheel. She thinks she’s the Energizer Bunny but she’s not, you know.”

“I know, Mom” He stood to face her.

“I know you’ll get breakfast on the road but I’ll make extra coffee and you can both take go-cups. The caffeine will give you a jump start, OK?”

“OK. Sure” He moved closer to her. He had never seen her cry before. Not when her friend Gabe died, not when her leg really hurt, not even the time they heard from Dispatch that Sandy was missing in a 5 alarm on the South side. The tears made her beautiful green-blue eyes sparkle until she blinked them away and rubbed at her cheek.

“Be careful when you stop. You know in some of those small Midwestern towns? Two Latinos traveling through…”

“I know, Mom. I know.” He was gentle with her. “We’ll be careful. I promise.”

“OK then. Good.” Kerry gestured back towards the hallway. “I’ll be…I think I’ll turn in now…”

Enriqué reached out to her and pulled her in gently. She took her familiar unsupported half-step towards him and they hugged tightly. He felt her smallness, her lightness and whispered “Good night, Mom”. He breathed in her warm clean scent.

“Night..” she exhaled as she turned quickly on one foot and escaped through the door.


Just Desserts - age 21

The awards dinner in her honor was both boring and exciting for Kerry if that was possible. Sandy handled social situations easily based upon her ‘screw them if they don’t like me attitude’ but Kerry didn’t suffer fools and small talk in group situations was difficult for her. On the other hand, she relished limelight and recognition. The formal clothing was also annoying despite the fact that Kerry looked wonderful in a black silk pants suit and Sandy ravishing in a red dress. They had been flown out to California for the occasion at the expense of the organization.

The Chair of the North American Association of Emergency Medicine introduced her at the microphone. “I’m sure you all have read her many articles in the journals. She may well be the most literate among those of us in Emergency Medicine. She certainly has raised the bar on current practice. She has a bigger than life reputation which seems to proceed her. I am pleased to have worked with and to present this award to Dr. Kerry Weaver.”

It was a relief for her to now stand and receive the accolades. She had called the organizers in advance to request a lectern on the floor rather than a raised podium so during the applause she easily strode to the front of the room to address the group.

“Thank you very much. This is bittersweet in a way. All my life I have wanted nothing more than to practice Emergency Medicine. To try to bring innovations to County Hospital in Chicago and to the field when possible. To foster passion and excellence in interns so that they might, in turn, choose Emergent Medicine and generate new ideas. I have been lucky enough to have achieved many of the things I dreamed of doing so why bittersweet?” She paused, smiling coquettishly at the group. “Isn’t this the type of thing they award posthumously?” She received the laughter she was hoping for. She looked out at Sandy, beautiful Sandy. The slightly younger, bronzed woman was beaming at her with such obvious pride that it moved her. When she wrapped up her few words and walked back to her partner’s side during the standing ovation, she blushed but it was because her mind was actually moving ahead now to the thought of taking Sandy to bed in a few hours.

++++

Kerry didn’t notice the Cheshire grin on Sandy’s face as she handed the valet parking attendant the keys to the car. “Come on” Sandy urged. Right hinged door, Sandy grabbed for it quickly. Kerry spotted him almost as soon as they were inside. Micheline stood, cued by Enriqué and had just enough time to whisper to him “God, they are both gorgeous!”

“I don’t believe it…” Kerry smiled as she added the small hop to her gait that allowed her to hurry. Sandy loved to see her smile like that. She glowed when she smiled like that. Enriqué moved quickly to hug her, automatically dropping his left hand low and hugging her other shoulder with his right. “Mom…” Kerry collected herself and noticed that the woman next to him, it had to be Micheline, was reaching out her left arm to shake hands. Good reflexes, thought Kerry briefly.

“You both look muy elegante this evening” beamed Enriqué. Sandy had chosen a very trendy and not inexpensive restaurant in Palo Alto and had made Kerry dress accordingly. That made two evenings in a row.

“Enriqué says you are majoring in Poli Sci.” Turning to Micheline, Kerry raised her eyebrows and inclined her head in her characteristic way, tucking her chin.

“Yes, I’m going to law school in the Fall.”

“Oh, so Poli Sci doesn’t mean politics. Good. Where are you planning to go for law school?”

The girl glanced quickly to her left at Enriqué and then back at Kerry. “Harvard. Harvard Law.”

“Impressive.” Smiled Kerry “Cambridge will seem like a booming metropolis after Stanford. What type of law do you hope to practice?”

“Kerry. Honey!” implored Sandy. “This poor girl is getting interrogated here.”

“This is nothing. You should hear mom take a medical history!” They all joined a laughing Enriqué.

“Yeah” continued Sandy “come to think of it, when I bring a 911 into County, you know, if I’m riding as paramedic? I’m giving the bullet, right? Giving her all the facts…everything. Then I get in the trauma room and she starts in on the family with the same question - ‘can you tell me what just happened?’ And if the damn patient is conscious she asks them a third time for god’s sake.”

The laughter crescendoed and included Kerry’s own. When it subsided Micheline continued without skipping a beat.

“I’m going into Legal Aid. I know I’ll never make any money but it’s one of the few branches of law I could ever be passionate about. I could never find a fit with corporate law or criminal justice or something like that.” Right away Kerry and Micheline got into a sidebar, further discussing the legal aid system while Sandy caught their son up on firehouse gossip. The four of them chatted easily throughout the evening and appeared to be the last table seated at 10:30. After hugs and goodbyes at the door, the valet parking attendant retrieved their cars.

As they headed back towards the campus, Micheline squeezed Enriqué’s thigh. “I really like both of them so much. Kerry is wonderful, just amazing and Sandy is hysterical.” She paused. “Now I get it.”

“Get what?”

“Why I like you.” She kissed him

“Another vote for nurture.” He chuckled.

In the other car headed back to the Marriott, Kerry was still ebullient. “I really like that girl.”

“That’s good sweetheart, because our son does too.”

“Silly.” She shook her head and kissed Sandy quickly on the cheek. “Thanks.”

“For what?” Sandy shrugged.

“Just thanks.” It was dark but Sandy could see Kerry’s white teeth as she smiled.

++++

Kerry often awoke first. Besides wanting to get the coffee just right, and a certain eagerness to face the day, she enjoyed the time of silence and peace. She rarely had this once the day started. She eased slowly off the mattress so as not to awaken Sandy and stood for a moment before reaching for her crutch. Her body grudgingly came alive as she headed to wash up. It was her habit to shower as soon as she got home from a sift so her morning ablutions were minimal. In the kitchen, Kerry measured out generous scoops of the rich dark organic French Roast that they both enjoyed so much. An indulgence to which she was so addicted that when she pulled a long shift in the ER, the necessity of drinking any other cup of java in order to stay awake barely outweighed her disdain for it. Sandy’s taste buds, more forgiving, sampled a bottomless cup of tasteless brew throughout the day at the fire station. Kerry switched on the imported coffee maker and ventured out the front door to pick up the morning paper. Try as she would to bribe the deliveryman, it seemed he was absolutely incapable of depositing the paper in a consistent spot on the stoop, requiring varying degrees of gymnastics for Kerry to retrieve it each day. Today it was mercifully on the top step, eliminating the need for Kerry to hop down to the pavement to get it. Her body was not yet completely awake and the small convenience pleased her. She lay the paper out on the kitchen table and moved to pour herself some coffee. Slowing down to even out her gait she carried the mug to the table.

This was one of the few brief moments in a day when her mind was not focused on Medicine. By the time she hauled herself home at the end of a long shift it was impossible to turn off the endless tape loop of traumas and staffing issues that had occurred and she either continued to review them mentally or shared them with Sandy. For now, her body and her mind relaxed as the rich warmth of the coffee slowly brought her to life, before the demands of her job brought on the familiar physical annoyances. She actually felt good. A sleep tousled Sandy emerged from the bedroom yawning and running a hand through her thick mane of curls. She grabbed a mug and filled it before acknowledging that Kerry was sitting there. Kerry smiled, greatly amused by the sight of her usually energetic firefighter so overcome by sleep that the appeared somnambulant. Gorgeous nevertheless in her rumpled state.

“Mornin’, Chiquita.” Sandy kissed the top of Kerry’s head before sitting.

“Morning.” Kerry’s eyes shone with the laughter in her.

“What?” Sandy looked at her as she sat, catching the look of amusement.

“What? Nothing.” The laughter burst from Kerry in the form of a chuckle.

“What?” demanded Sandy more emphatically.

Kerry gave in. “You’re a vision.”

“Of what?” Sandy too was laughing now.

“Of loveliness.” Kerry answered as she leaned forward to kiss Sandy on the lips.

Sandy sipped her coffee. “Anything in the news?”

“Oh sure, war, poverty, famine, crime…”

Sandy snickered “Yeah, that’s why I don’t bother to tell you the truth.” She gestured at the paper.

They drank together in silence for a while. Sandy broke the quiet. “When you off tonight?”

“Seven or eight I think.”

“OK. I’ll be here. How about some paella?”

“That would be great, Sweetie, thanks.” She paused and then placing her palms on the table, stood up. “I’m off.”

She moved down the hall to the bedroom. She lay black pants, camisole and a blouse out on the bed and sat down to dress. Leaning over to the night table, she exchanged her glasses for her contacts, washed them and popped them in. She never checked herself in the mirror, relying instead on a quick inspection from Sandy before she shot out the door. After filling her travel mug to the rim with more French Roast, she kissed Sandy and, apparently passing inspection today, shot out the door.

Parking on the upper level of the staff parking lot Kerry thought about one of the things she liked most about her new position as Chief of Staff. It was the office. She had never had any privacy at work before and she now reveled in it. She swallowed the last lukewarm sip of coffee as she sat in the comfortable leather high back chair behind her desk. She then attacked the pile of papers needing her most urgent attention. She remembered Mark “suggesting” at least 5 years earlier that she had to make a choice between administration and medicine. Well, damn it, it turned out she didn’t have to choose at all. She enjoyed both. Her administrative assistant, Paul, called in on the intercom reminding her of the meeting with the Chief of OB-GYN in 5 minutes. She thanked him and moved the stack she had been working on aside. Quickly reviewing the folder labeled “OB Proposal” she felt prepared. The knock was on schedule. She liked that.

“Come in.”

This was a new feeling. Totally unexpected actually. She enjoyed it too. Seated behind a desk she felt, for the first time in her life, on truly equal terms with her peers. Intellectually, of course she had always felt at least an equal but people’s attitudes were something else and this office, this desk, this position negated that.

“Dr. Curtis. Have a seat.”

And when he sat they were eye-to-eye without the inequality of the crutch. Without the judgment or whatever people repressed but brought with them nevertheless. Though she had always striven for excellence and most often was indeed the best at what she did in her career, she knew she was never viewed as she wished, never without some damn judgment, always at least some asinine symbol of rising above her disability. Here that seemed to evaporate.

The other doctor sat heavily as if burdened.

“Dr. Weaver. This budget…I’ve reviewed your proposed cuts and it is just not possible. We need to discuss a compromise.”

“Sure.” Kerry smiled. “Cut a half million dollars anywhere you like. My proposed line items were just that - a proposal. Where would you prefer to slash costs?” She reopened the folder in front of her.

“No. I’m sorry. You don’t understand. There is no way I can slice that much out of the OB budget no matter how you look at it.”

“Kevin. Dr. Curtis, this is not an optional exercise. We are in a four million dollar deficit here. All departments here at County are affected. All will be cut proportionately to their revenue stream. You prioritize and cut or I will.”

Kerry closed the folder and dismissively turned her attention to her PC monitor.

The older doc coughed slightly. “Dr. Weaver I can appreciate the need to balance the budget but staff reduction will not reflect well on the hospital. We cannot maintain the quality of care under those conditions.”

“Nor will being shut down by the county reflect well upon us, Dr. Curtis.” Kerry did not avert eyes from the monitor.

“OK, OK. One OB instead of two, only two nurses and one nutritionist consult shift.”

Kerry slowly swiveled her gaze back in his direction. “That’s half of what you need to achieve the required cut, Dr. Curtis. Can I assume you will accept the accelerated depreciation of fixed assets and reduction in capital spending indicated in my draft?”

“Er. Dr Weaver, please, may I…” he was flustered “have until tomorrow to review the numbers one more time”

“You’re wasting my time, Kevin.” Turning to her monitor, Kerry brought up her schedule on the desktop. “I have 15 minutes at 6:30 tonight. I’ll see you then.” Again, she dismissed him by turning to a stack of papers on her desk. The OB Chief stood and left without another word. Almost immediately Kerry’s beeper vibrated on her waistband. Glancing down she saw that the ER was paging her.. They knew only to call her for either extreme emergencies needing executive oversight or for multiple traumas that strained the ER beyond it’s limits. She trusted Randi implicitly so she quickly grabbed her crutch from under the desk and raced to the elevators shouting at Paul” Cancel everything till I’m back”

It was a multiple MVA with 10 criticals. Something it seemed only The Kennedy could produce. Randi was right to have paged her. Kerry immediately moved into action, racing alongside a gurney, nodding as the bullet was presented by a sweating paramedic. Nothing else mattered in those early minutes. Kerry’s thoughts were filled entirely with the initial presentation, scrolling mentally through the lists of diagnostics to perform, deciding on treatment options. This was what kept Kerry charged. Administration had given her a way to relieve the physical and emotional stress of emergent medicine but direct care was in her blood. She did not feel the cramping in her leg, didn’t realize she leaned on the gurney with her pelvis as she intubated the patient, and thought nothing of the dichotomy between the display of vibrant strength she portrayed and the fatigue that built in her. As soon as the labs came back she glanced at the portable x-ray on this first victim, passed her diagnosis and treatment plan to the first year and then moved quickly down the hall to each incoming trauma in succession offering her assistance as needed.

By 3:00 PM only one patient who had not been wearing a seatbelt was lost, two were up in the OR, six were admitted to medical floors and two remained under observation in the ER. All the minors had been streeted. Kerry completed her notes and signed off on charts. Her administrative assistant had a sandwich and bottle of juice sitting at her desk waiting for her.

Kerry pushed the intercom button on her phone with one hand while kneading her left calf underneath the desk with the other.

“Thanks, Paul. You are wonderful. Did everyone get rescheduled?”

“Yes, Dr Weaver. Your meeting with Dr. Clark is rescheduled for tomorrow at 2:00. the conference call with the City Counselor got pushed to 6:45 tonight. It’s all been updated on your calendar.”

“OK, Paul. You are the best. Thanks”

“You bet, Doctor Weaver.”

Quickly, Kerry dialed home and left a message. “ Sandy, looks like closer to 8:00. Love you. Bye”

She took a few bites of the sandwich while reviewing the notes for her 3:30

It was almost exactly 8:00 when she turned the key in the door at home. She peeled off her backpack and shrugged out of her coat. Leaving both on the chair in the entryway she walked slowly to the kitchen.

“Hey, Honey.” Sandy came towards her. Kerry leaned her left hand on the counter, bracing herself for a hug.

“You look beat. Go shower. Dinner will be ready when you are out.”

“Mmmmmm. Smells wonderful.”

Sandy laughed. “It’s my Mami’s recipe” Her white teeth were brilliant against her creamy dark skin.

“Say, do I have time for a bath instead?”

“Sure, Hon.”

“OK, be right back.” Kerry mustered a quick kiss to Sandy’s cheek.

Thank god she was not on again till Thursday, Kerry thought as she sat on the edge of the tub, spun slowly around and eased down into the steaming hot water. She closed her eyes with relief. Not wanting to disappoint Sandy she fought off immediate sleep. She allowed herself only a few minutes of this physical pleasure before reaching for the grab bar to pull up out of the water. Still seated on the edge of the tub she toweled off and pulled on her Joe Boxers and a tee shirt. After taking a deep breath she stood pausing for a moment before walking back to the kitchen.

“Hey, that aroma is killing me. Aren’t you ever going to feed me?”

“Aye, aye, Doc.” Sandy began to dish up heaping platefuls of the saffron colored rice mixed with mussels, clams, shrimp and finely chopped vegetables. She carried both plates to the dining room table and poured them each a glass of Rioja from the bottle they had started the night before.

“Mmmm. What is that spice?”

“That’s the chorizo, Hon.”

Kerry let the taste roll on her tongue, savoring the deep mixture of flavors. “I love it. Bad for the cholesterol but I love it.”

Kerry’s body was already languid, relaxed from the heat of the bath. She felt herself slowly regaining energy.

“Here’s to the Julia Child of Spanish cuisine.” Kerry lifted her glass in a toast.

Sandy laughed. “Rough day?” she asked after several minutes of gustatory silence.

Kerry sat back in her chair, holding her wine glass by the stem. “Had to juggle a few meetings to assist on a large MVA. We only lost one. That couldn’t really be helped. He was DOA, should have been pronounced instead of brought in .”

“I hate that.” Sandy smirked. “Why can’t they do that in the field?” It was rhetorical.

“Yeah well, I’m just glad to be here. That was some dinner, Sweetie. Thanks.”

“Gotta keep my Doc well fed, you know.”

“So how was your day, Sandy?”

“Oh, not too bad. A three-alarm, no casualties but a total loss. 3 false alarms. The guys cleaned a lot of gear. You know…”

“You OK?”

“Yeah. Didn’t inhale anything anyway.”

“Good.” Kerry reached over and brushed Sandy’s cheek lightly. “Good.”

++++

All four of them all got together again over the Thanksgiving holidays. Both Kerry and Sandy were at work on Tuesday when the kids arrived in the city. Enriqué wanted to show Micheline around Chicago - his Chicago, and that meant starting off with a meal at the 38th. They arrived unannounced with two bags full of groceries. Sandy and her men were at the station between calls.

“Hey, little Enriqué!” One of the guys spotted him first and jumped up, away from the television to slap him on the back. “You’re taller than me now, huh, kid?”

Captain Lopez, Sandy, whirled around from the precinct grid she was studying on the wall, her face immediately splitting into a huge grin.

“Hey….you. Come over here.” She was not embarrassed kissing him right there. She was the one to introduce Micheline to the others in the firehouse.

“Guys, this is Riqué’s friend, Micheline.” Some of the firefighters actually shook her hand with their big calloused palms.

“Whatcha got there, Enriqué?” asked one of the older men, peering into the bags.

“Tacos, refried beans, salad and Spanish rice. Suit your fancy?” Some clapping went around in response and the two college seniors got to work whipping up some lunch.

They had time to finish everything off before a call came in. Many of the men tossed out a “Thanks, Enriqué as they hurried out. Sandy blew the kids a kiss and shouted to them over the siren as she whipped on her jacket and ran out the door. “I’ll see you at home tonight, OK?”

They waved back at her then sat down alone at the long table and held hands for a while before loading the dishwasher and stepping out into the crisp Chicago sun.

+++

Sandy took early retirement the following March. She actually had put in more than the minimum number of years on the force than what was required for full benefits. Again, Kerry attended the retirement dinner the company threw for her. It was a loud, raucous event with plenty to drink and lots of stories and jokes that went back years. Kerry felt slightly ancient as she sat next to her partner of seventeen years and rolled the word ‘retirement’ over and over in her mind. There was no way to speak to Sandy over the happy din of her co-workers. She was content to absorb the noise and the camaraderie, unlike anything she had ever experienced herself, as she sat into early morning with a smile on her face and that somewhat pensive tinge to her thoughts.


The Sweet Smell of Success - age 25

They had waited until they had both completed graduate school before getting married. Micheline graduated with honors from Harvard Law and Enriqué had completed a PhD in human physiology from MIT. Both had jobs and miraculously had chosen to live just outside Chicago to be near Kerry and Sandy. The wedding was not at all traditional. Each was given away by two parents, Micheline’s mother and father walked down the aisle with her as Kerry and Sandy stood at the front of the hall with Enriqué. When the officiating minister approached the couple and the parents took their seats, Kerry uncharacteristically reached for Sandy’s hand and held it until the brief ceremony was over. The reception that followed was one of the few times that Kerry ever remembered actually enjoying a social event. There were several dozen of Sandy’s relatives; sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews. She had even invited a couple of her fellow firefighters; guys who had really taken Enriqué under their wing as he was growing up. The kids had invited a few of their old school friends and co-workers. The rest of the guests were all Micheline’s. It was a large group.

Overall as she mentally reviewed how far they had come, she realized that her deepest feelings related to the strength of her family of three. Now that her role at County was limited to the administrative quagmire of Chief of Staff her passion for work, absent Emergency Medicine, seemed lacking. Sandy was content with carpentry projects in the basement, tuning up their cars periodically and volunteering over at the Latino Youth Center one day a week. As the wedding festivities took place around her Kerry embraced the joy in the room.


Free at Last - age 29

Micheline had a lousy labor. It was 16 hours before she caved into the epidural. Kerry and Sandy paced around the hospital waiting area when Kerry wasn’t trying to finagle a nurse into letting her know the details of what was going on. But as soon as the baby was born, they were able to don scrubs and go in to see the baby whose name was being kept a secret until the birth. Micheline was wet with perspiration and tears. Enriqué gently plucked the baby up from his wife and passed her to Kerry. Sandy was inches away.

“Mom. Mami. This is Kersan.” Kerry leaned against the delivery room wall as she cradled the baby.

“What? She is beautiful, Sandy, look.” Sandy touched the blanket.

“She sure is. Her name is…?” It hadn’t registered.

“Kersan.”

“You mean like….?”

“Yes.” He answered their incredulous looks. “ Kersan Weaver-Lopez.”

“But…” Kerry looked over at Micheline who quickly answered.

“That’s what we want. Both of us would like her to have as much of both of you as she possibly can.”

Kerry handed the baby to Sandy and walked over to Micheline. She stood near her and was just barely able to whisper “Thank you.”

++++++

It was also the year that Kerry turned 65. When approached by The Board she absolutely refused a retirement dinner. She quietly slipped out on her last day after the endless stream of well wishers had come to say goodbye. Only Carter and Pratt of the original group remained on at County. Their goodbyes were more nostalgic than the rest. Sandy picked her up outside, threw her box of African artifacts into the trunk of the car and they drove to their favorite restaurant for dinner. No fanfare. No more County.

+++

Micheline called from her cell phone on the road. She was running late and was actually due in court. Kerry told her not to worry. She met her right at the door, already wearing the snuggly. Micheline slipped Kersan right in against Kerry’s chest and turned quickly back to the running, double parked car shouting “Thanks” over her shoulder.

Kerry loved taking care of Kersan now that she was retired. Who would have thought that a veteran ER adrenaline junkie would enjoy staying home with a baby almost daily? This was an age she had missed with Enriqué. It was a sweet, sweet age of allowed dependency, baby talc and new born wonder at the world. Kerry walked slowly over to the couch so as not to jar the sleeping child, sat down lengthwise, feet up and savored the sweet smell of the girl’s head. That wonderful, precious baby smell. It couldn’t get better than this, thought Kerry.




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