Thursday, April 2, 2009

ER Finale

(Photo courtesy NBC)
As I type this, I'm watching the two-hour final episode of ER. Keith and I have watched this show from the very first episode back in September 1994 when we had only one child, and I was pregnant with the baby we lost two months later in November. So I feel great attachment to ER and always have. I stopped watching for a few months around Season 9, but then ER picked back up with some intriguing story lines, and so did we. I found my eyes welling with tears as the ER opening credits started with the familiar old names ... a beginning that hasn't been used in at least five years. Kleenexes at the ready. Okay, I'm set.

I had thought that Rachel Green would show back up as a med student in the final episode, and I was right: I recognized her immediately, and as I type this, she is introducing herself to Frank as Mark Green's daughter. I'm getting such a feeling of deja vu as E and I have been watching Season 1 reruns on TNT, so we're used to seeing younger versions of Carter, Benton, Lewis, Green, Morgenstern, Hathaway, and Ross. I am looking forward to seeing older versions of them tonight, too -- well, except for Green whom we saw earlier this season in a flashback. We've already had glimpses of Weaver and Lewis already by halfway through this last episode, and we'll be seeing Corday who flew out with Rachel Green for her interview as a med student.

It's sad watching ER go ... just think of all of the great guest stars! Alan Alda, Forest Whittaker, Sally Field, Ernest Borgnine just tonight, Susan Sarandon, Stanley Tucci, Angela Bassett, Rosemary Clooney, and the list goes on and on. Incredible actors. We watched the one-hour retrospective earlier with interviews with the actors over the years -- which was very cool. The show has been simply incredible ... and it's a very simple premise: working in the ER is HARD. Way hard. But it's the innovations that make ER so incredible -- the cameras, the long shots, the live show, the guest stars.

I sit here, with long breaks between typing, just absorbing the enormity of this final show ... and of all that has happened in the last fifteen years since I watched the first episode with such excitement. Back then I had only a daughter and was excitedly expecting our second child ... the child who didn't become part of our family in this life. Three more boys have joined us since then, and I watched ER through each and every pregnancy, through late-night nursings and up late with sick kids. Elizabeth was a toddler in 1994, and now she's watching this final episode with me, minus my nostalgia.

It's been an amazing show -- the stuff of life ... and death. It's realism and romance and suffering and grief and joy. The characters are flawed yet heroic, real people who cry and laugh, who transform at times and sometimes don't. Sam and Gates finally get back together, holding hands after the death of a patient who had known her husband for 72 years which finally softened Sam's hard heart toward Tony. Kim returned from Paris to see Carter at the opening of the Joshua Carter Center, named for their son who died in utero, and the death of Joshua remains an insurmountable obstacle to their relationship. Elizabeth Corday, Peter Benton, Kerry Weaver, Susan Lewis, Rachel Green, and Carter go out for drinks after the Opening, and the look on Carter's face at one point was priceless ... nostalgia and joy and pain. Life. Then Carter takes Rachel back to the ER and teaches her how to place an IV. Aaah, poetic justice as Carter, the original student fifteen years before, teaches Mark Green's daughter her first procedure.

The ER theme music starts playing as a huge trauma comes in -- an industrial fire with multiple casualties. Everyone is flying here and there, triaging patients, treating those most severely burned and injured. Although he doesn't actually work at County at this point, Carter pulls on gown and gloves and, as he runs alongside a patient's gurney into the ER, he calls behind him, "You comin, Dr. Green?" Rachel's face lights up and she races into the ER after him, ready to help.

And ER is over. Just like that.

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