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A Deep Breath

A Deep Breath
by Lisa

Rating. I think a G rating but It could be considered deep
Disclaimer: None ..just some soul searching.
Summary. The team must come to grips with loss of a loved one and Murdock must try to discover who he is and where to go..



The tears wouldn't stop. The constant worry of the inevitable. The worry of what to do and think, how to live and go on. How do you change what you know life to be? What do you do when you are left with just being you and not what someone thinks you are?

Murdock sat beside the bed watching his friend and leader. He watched the labored rise and fall of the chest and the gasps made during each labored attempt to take a deep breath. He had been there for days trying to make peace with his thoughts and his past. Hannibal had meant so much to him. He looked down at the Colonel and thought of what he represented. Hannibal meant leadership, conscience, friendship, and discipline. He had come to be more of a father than the one he never knew. He represented a way of life that he had lived for many years now. He wasn't sure how to go on.

Hannibal had been having a problem for a while. The doctors had told him to give up his cigars but he couldn't. They were his one guilty pleasure. His Cubans were his sign of rebellion and image. They gave him his pleasure of a hard battle won. They were the one constant that didn't change with the years. The army gave him his qualities and his patterns of thought. This was one individual act that was his alone. Hannibal said once he would rather die than give up anything that made him the individual he was. During his act of stability he never could think of what that act would do to others. He never knew the suffering it would cause himself and the friends who had to watch the steady decline.

Face and BA had already been in to see Hannibal and had made their peace. They said what needed to be said and left to wait for the phone calls that would signal a new beginning. They knew that Murdock needed to handle death in his own way. All of them had seen death over the years and had come to a point where they met the sight with a cool custom. All things end and new things begin. All life ends at some point and they had the strength to go on. Murdock was different. He took things so personally. He defined himself by his involvement in the team and the acts they did for others. He really had no idea who he was because he took on so many faces and personalities. The men no longer had to fight the system now that the system was no longer after them. They had all struggled to find who they were, but none more than Murdock. He knew he wasn't crazy but his eccentricities covered up an inner struggle of not having peace with who he was. His friends decided that he needed the time alone to say goodbye to his leader and friend. He needed to say goodbye to his "father" in his own time and on his own terms no matter how painful that would be.

Murdock looked out the window again. It had started to rain once more and he could hear thunder in the distance. He looked again at Hannibal and tried to remember him as he was. This once proud and strong man had become frail and small. His color was replaced by a ghostly whiteness in his face that showed the end was near. His breaths came in gasps that made the sounds of congestion echo from his lungs. He could hear every wheeze of air trying to find a place to go. Intravenous lines were in his arms and oxygen was being delivered by a cannula in his nose. A man in this condition should be on a respirator, but Hannibal would never agree to an artificial means of living. He wanted to die with honor and not be a false person lying with no soul left. Murdock would rather have seen the suffering end but he was struggling with himself in wishing he was being helped. He knew that a respirator would keep him breathing and living but his soul would be gone and he would have suffered longer.

Thoughts were coming and going so quickly. Ideas were finished and replaced by new questions. What should I do? Where do I go? Who am I? He felt nothing but weakness and pity for himself. He wanted so much to take Hannibal in his arms and turn back time. He would give anything to go back a few years and have a future. He could not picture a life without his friend. Who would tell him what to do and order him to carry on? Who would tell him where to go next and what was the right thing to do? What do you do when you have no one to impress or get support from? Who can you talk to when you don't know the answers? How do you replace a parent of sorts? You are what they think and what they taught you to do. What are you when that is gone and you are forced to be yourself? How can I handle this? How have I made it this far? How does life go on? How can I live a life that isn't the same? A person with a mental disorder needs stability and order. They need to know things are the same or going to be ok. As long as things don't change it is ok. But that isn't life.

Time had passed and tears had fallen. The denial of the disease was hard. The acceptance was harder. Watching emphysema take its terrible hold had been life-changing thing for him. He had already come so far in accepting the change and knowing the end was near. He had bargained with God to take his life instead. Nothing is more important that a person you love and respect. Nothing is more important than the memories and lessons. Once it was realized that a decision like that wasn't possible, he thought of ending his own. What kind of life is left? The reason for being was in this bed. He looked at Hannibal's face as if he would tell him what to do. He watched the slow rise and fall of the chest and felt the solitude coming closer. He would be alone. He would be alone. No one knew him like Hannibal did. No one knew the things you only tell a parent. Things you never want to admit to someone else. Things you never had to say.

He grabbed Hannibal's hand and started to cry again. The fear was welling up inside again. The fear of being alone and not knowing what to do. The breaths seem to be slowing now. It would stop and start again as if Hannibal knew he was there. He would not give up as long as Murdock was there to see it. Murdock squeezed his hand as if he knew that once he let go that the end would come and he could finally let himself go into insanity. If he wanted to he could block out all the pain and float between living and not. He could let himself not feel anything. He had been there once before and it wasn't such a bad place to be. He knew nothing would hurt but the memories and no new tragedy would touch him. But he also knew that isn't what Hannibal would have wanted either. He must find the strength to stand and let Hannibal go. Once he let go of his hand a decision could be made to go on or give up.

Murdock stood and gave Hannibal's hand one final squeeze and was amazed to feel a slight squeeze back. Hannibal opened his eyes slightly and tried to manage a smile. Murdock leaned over and kissed his fathers forehead and gave him a brief hug. He felt every moment. He stood again and turned to leave. He opened the door and looked back one more time and tried to burn the image in his head as if the memory would remind him how his presence felt. He let the door go and watched the image grow smaller as the door shut.

He stood in the hallway and stared at the door. Tears fell and he didn't care who saw them. He covered his eyes with his hands hoping this was all a mistake or a dream. Then he felt what he had feared most of all. He was alone. He was panicking. He didn't know what to do. He was alone.

Murdock looked to the floor and thought to himself that there was no one left to live for. He lost what meant most to him. He felt a hand on his shoulder and another at his back. He felt hands guiding him to the waiting room and into a chair. He sat down and wondered. He looked up to see Face and BA. Both with tears like his own and he knew he wasn't alone. He knew he had friends to help him. He had someone to lean on who felt the same as he did. After a long while of crying together they all walked out the door and out of the hospital. When the cold air hit their faces they thought of what to do next. They all knew the answer. Go on. Take a deep breath and live.


For Mom


A Deep Breath by Lisa



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