How Many?

AUTHOR: Jenny R.
SPOILERS: Season 8
DISCLAIMER: I don't own Mark Greene or the ER that he's currently employed at.
SUMMARY: Dr. Greene muses on his life and his diagnosis. Very angsty.

As I look at the X-ray resting on the board in front of me I can't help but remember the countless times I've stood here before. Right here...this exact spot, on this exact floor, in this exact hospital. The normal thoughts float through my head.

How do I give the bad news? How do you tell a man that he is going to die? That his wife, daughter, son, mother or father is dying? Then the words just come.

"I'm very sorry Mr. so and so, but there's nothing more that we can do."

How many times have I rode that el train home and made love to my wife, only hours after telling my patient that he is going to die? How many times have I kissed my daughters goodnight or gone for a job through the park? How many times? Too many. Far too many times.

I've watched my colleagues, my friends, lose their loved ones in stupid unfair situations. I've even watched some of my friends stop breathing, long before their time. Two years ago the man that grew up right before my eyes was brutally attacked. He almost died. His med-student, and a damn good doctor, wasn't so lucky. So much talent and potential gone in a heartbeat, or lack of one. My eyes have seen so much agony.

I've delivered many babies. Some lived, some did not. Yet I am still dumbfounded by the miracle of life. The power behind the birth of a child is enlightening. Its the good in this world so full of evil and pain. The image of my best friend Carol and her beautiful twin daughters is forever burned into my memory. No tumor can take that away. Nor can it erase the happiness that I felt when I first saw Rachel's face. Then Ella, my beautiful baby girl. My eyes have seen angels in action.

But how many times did I think I was invincible? Death surrounds me everyday, yet I was always immune. How many times did I think: "This will never be me." I was above it all for so long. I played God and worked miracles with my fingertips. But I was only a tool in the race to sustain life as long as humanly possible. Sometimes miracles come in the form of death.

How many times did I save one life, while concentrating on my own? How many times did I think about the fatigue behind my eyes or a divorce settlement, while holding a frightened man's heart in my hands? How many?

Well now I look at the brain before me. I can't pretend anymore. The brain in the x-ray is mine, and the news is not good. It's me, and I'm the one dying. So here it goes, one last time.

"I'm very sorry Dr. Greene, but there's nothing more that we can do."


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