ER, adieu

ER ended last week. I haven’t actually watched the show for about five years — I stopped during a particularly depressing point in the storyline, where Mark was dying from brain cancer, and Abby’s schizophrenic mom was giving her grief and Carter and Kem’s baby had just died, as had Kerry’s girlfriend. It seemed like the entire show was shot at midnight: just a whole lot of darkness and doldrums — and a whole lot of acronyms: another MVA, MI, MRI, DUI, GSW to the head, all just rushing into the trauma centre — too many of which seemed to parallel my own life at the time. I was newly pregnant with Rowan, and my mother was dying of cancer. Imagine the tension in the room when we watched, together, the episode when Mark actually died. Her in her hospital bed set up in the family room and me on the couch. No one looking at anyone.

And then, well, then, my mother actually did die, and then Rachel and I had a baby and moved and had little access to cable TV (although I’m guessing that last one is a flimsy excuse, given that ER probably plays on all the free channels in 24-hour marathons), and that particular show fell by the wayside, as did many, many things.

But I still kind of missed it. If all the characters were real people, I would friend them on Facebook and ask them for updates: “Great to see you! It’s been so long! How are the twins? Did Seattle work out?”

I missed it not least for the fact that ER was just full of smart, sexy, professional women who were integral to the storyline (for more on that, see Dorothy Surrenders) — nurses, yes, fantastic nurses, but also doctors. (And not blathering idiot doctors like the whiny whinies on Grey’s Anatomy.) Some of them were even queer.

Of course, the plot that involved Kerry and Sandy and their baby boy, Henry, held a certain weight for everyone in my circles. You remember: bio-mom Sandy, a firefighter, dies, and her homophobic-ass family tries to take the baby away from Kerry. At about 11:01 PM on the Thursday night after it aired, my phone rang. It was my mother. From her hospital bed. She was livid.

“You just make sure that Rachel adopts that baby!” she told me.

“She will,” I said. But then I also tried to comfort her with the obvious. “But Mom, um, you and dad aren’t going to try to take the baby away from Rachel if anything happens to me.”

“Of course we aren’t!” she snapped. “But that doesn’t matter. You just make sure you take care of things!”

“Okay, Mom,” I said. “Okay.”

Which was the right answer, all along. As Rowan will one day discover.