by: Marty Chrisman
Time passes slowly when you’re in a hospital waiting for news about a loved one.
Minutes seem like hours and hours seem like days. It had been over five hours and Bo still hadn’t heard anything about Luke. He was sitting in his chair with his face buried in his hands, when he felt a gentle touch on his shoulder. Looking up, he saw his Uncle Jesse, Daisy and their good friend, Cooter Davenport, standing beside him. Bo bounced to his feet and threw himself into his Uncle arms, finally giving way to the emotions that had been overwhelming him since the crash. Jesse took his youngest nephew in his arms and held him close, comforting him as best he could.
“Still no word on Luke?” Jesse asked gently, helping Bo sit back down in his chair.
“No, sir…nothing.” Bo said shaking his head as he struggled to regain control of himself.
“Coot, Daisy….you stay here with Bo.” Jesse said gruffly “I’m gonna see if I can find anything out about Luke.” Daisy and Cooter both nodded and sat down on either side of Bo. Jesse walked over to the nurse’s station and said, “I’m Jesse Duke. My nephew, Luke Duke, was brought in over five hours ago and there still hasn’t been any news. Can somebody tell me how he is?”
“Just a moment, sir and I’ll see what I can find out for you.” The nurse told him. Jesse waited impatiently while she picked up the phone and talked to someone on the other end. Hanging up, she looked at Jesse and said “The doctor will be out to speak to you shortly.”
Jesse walked back over to where the others were sitting. Daisy looked at him anxiously and said, “Any news?”
“The nurse said the doctor should be out to talk to us soon.” Jesse said somberly. All the way to Lexington from Hazzard, he had prayed for both his nephews but especially Luke. He just hoped that the good lord saw fit to answer those prayers.
“Luke’s dead, isn’t he?” Bo asked, voicing his greatest fear suddenly afraid that Jesse knew but wasn’t telling him.
“No, and don’t you even go thinking like that.” Jesse told him firmly.
Daisy put her arm around her youngest cousin and tried to comfort him. Everyone knew how close Bo and Luke were. If something happened to Luke, Daisy didn’t think Bo would be able to handle it. They were bound together by a love that went beyond anything Daisy had ever seen before. It was if they were different parts of the same person at times. They even shared an almost physic bond at times, knowing what the other one was thinking and feeling their pain or knowing when they were in trouble. It was unnerving at times to be around them when that physic link kicked in. All the Dukes shared that physic link to some degree but it was definitely the strongest between Bo and Luke.
Unnoticed by any of them until he spoke, a doctor had walked up behind Jesse. He said, “Are you the Duke family?”
“Yes.” Jesse said turning around to face the other man “How’s Luke? How’s my boy?”
“Is he still alive?” Daisy asked
“How bad is hurt?” asked Bo
The doctor held up his hand to stop them from all asking questions at the same time. In a calm voice he said, “Let’s step into my office so we can privately.”
Numbly, the Dukes and Cooter followed the doctor past the nurse’s station to a private office down the hall. As they all settled into chairs facing his desk, the doctor sat down and looked at them solemnly. “Luke is still alive but we almost lost him several times. He was in severe hypothermia when he was brought in and we had to get his body temperature back up before we could address any of his other injuries. That’s why it’s taken so long to tell you anything. Right now, his condition is stable and I’m hoping that it stays that way. We did have to do emergency surgery to stop some internal bleeding. He had a lacerated kidney and some damage to his liver, both injuries which cause massive bleeding. It took us awhile to get the bleeding under control and we had to give him several units of blood to replace what he’d already lost.” The doctor paused to let what he had told them so far sink in, then he continued “He does have a head injury but we don’t know yet just how bad it is. We’ll be running some tests tomorrow. He also had a collapsed lung and some severely bruised ribs. Right now, he’s in a coma and I have no idea how soon he’ll wake up. His body has been through a severe trauma and the coma is
to be expected under the circumstances.”
“Can we see him?” Jesse asked
“Not yet. They’re still getting him set up in the ICU. I’ll have one of the nurses let you know when you can see him….but only one at a time and for no more than ten minutes each.”
He stood up indicating that the meeting was over and ushered the Dukes and Cooter out of his office. They went back to the waiting room to wait some more. They huddled together, sharing their worry and their concern together as a family. Cooter included. He may not be a Duke by blood but he was a Duke at heart.
Suddenly, Jesse seemed to remember that Bo had been in the same accident as Luke and in spite of Bo’s agitated objections Jesse insisted that Bo be checked out too just to be on the safe side. A nurse escorted Bo, still protesting loudly, back to an examining room. The family was still waiting to be allowed to see Luke when Bo rejoined them over an hour later. Bo told them that the doctor had told him that he had three cracked ribs, several bruises and cuts, and a mild concussion. Although the doctor had wanted to admit him at least overnight, Bo had refused. For another hour they waited, then finally a nurse came out and told them that they could see Luke.
Jesse went in first. At first glance, Luke appeared to simply be sleeping. Until you took into account the machine monitoring his heartbeat, the oxygen mask still over his nose and mouth, and the IV running into his left arm. His normally healthy tan was faded out leaving his face looking pale and drawn. Careful not to disturb any of the lines or tubes surrounding him, Jesse gently reached out and took Luke’s hand in his. Although the doctor had said that they had brought his body temperature back up to normal, his hand still felt cold to the touch and his skin felt clammy.
“Luke, its Uncle Jesse. You’re in a hospital but you’re gonna be just fine. Your family is all here with you.” Jesse rubbed Luke’s hand, knowing he probably couldn’t feel it but trying to comfort him in some way just in case there was a part of him that could feel or hear.
Daisy went in next. She hated seeing either one of the boys hurt. You’d think she would have been used to it by now but she was never prepared to see one of them lying in a hospital bed looking so vulnerable and helpless, especially Luke. He was the strong one, the one who protected them and took care of them. “Hey, cuz.” She whispered, bending down to kiss his cheek. “You better wake up soon and get out of here before Bo steals all your girlfriends.” She blinked back her tears “I love you, Luke….”
Bo went last after Cooter declined to see Luke. This was a time for the immediate family and Cooter didn’t want to intrude on their time with Luke. Bo sat down beside his cousin’s side and felt the tears burning his eyes. “Don’t do this to me, Lukas.” He said in a broken voice “You can’t leave me…you promised a long time ago that you wouldn’t and I’m holding you to that promise.” He grasped Luke’s hand tightly trying to send him some of his strength. “And I ain’t leaving here until I know you’re gonna be okay, so you better wake up soon.” All too soon, his ten minutes were up and a nurse was telling him it was time for him to leave.