Question: I missed the first five minutes of the May 2 episode of ER and that was when they read the famous letter from Dr. Greene. Any chance of finding out what it said? — Marni T., Malibu, Calif.
Gee, is it any wonder ER remains a heavy hitter for NBC? By the morning after that episode aired, I'd already received a mailbox full of requests from fans begging for the same thing. (But it's a good thing the NBC drama doesn't live or die on its opening teaser ratings, huh?)
Using my unique Televisionary powers of suggestion, I compelled a contact to fax me the script for that episode. As those who caught it saw, the following letter from the cancer-stricken Dr. Mark Greene (Anthony Edwards) was faxed from Hawaii by Dr. Elizabeth Corday (Alex Kingston) to Dr. John Carter (Noah Wyle), who read it out loud to the other hospital staffers:
So here I am, out on the beach at 5:30 in the evening. Elizabeth's sitting with me, drinking juice, but I'm all about the Mai Tais. Rachel is dipping Ella's toes [Rachel and Ella are Greene's daughters] in the ocean, as they head off on a quest for the perfect seashell and weirdly enough, I find myself thinking, you know what would make this moment complete? Some jogger dropping to the sand short of breath so I can swoop in with a piece of bamboo to perform a nice, clean intubation, fix the guy up, send him off with a good, simple dispo. Which I guess is my way of saying that I miss you all and that dingy place.
But since I've been gone, I realize that outside of what I'm doing right now — sitting on this beach with my family — staying at County all those years, doing what we do on a daily basis, was the best choice I ever made. I know what you're thinking, but trust me. It's not so hard to appreciate once it's over. As much as part of me would like to believe that the ER can't go on without me, a smarter part realizes that you're an incredible group of doctors and nurses who approach every day with such skill, compassion and thoroughness that — when it comes to patient care — I know my absence will hardly be felt.
As for friendship and camaraderie — well, that's another matter. In order to leave, I had to go the way I did, but I wouldn't want any of you to think that that meant I didn't value each of you and the years we worked together. Or that I didn't have things of a more personal nature to say. Most of you, I think, have an idea of what those things might be without me writing them down, but still... Ella is laughing and waving for me; Rachel's found her shell...
Asked by the staff to continue reading, Carter told them that's where Greene's letter ended and Corday's began. It read:
Mark died this morning at 6:04 am. The sun was rising. His favorite time of day. I sent this on so that you might know he was thinking of you all and that he appreciated knowing you would remember him well.