My sister and I, and possibly many many others, have always had a soft place in our hearts for M*A*S*H’s Father Mulcahy. He is adorable, patient, sweet, puts up with more than anyone in possibly the entire Korean war and does so with a cheerfulness and wholesomeness that is not only endearing, but never even annoying to his determinedly sinful companions. He also happens to possess the most angelic blue eyes in the world, and a really boss white fedora. It’s so wrong to crush on a preacher man, but there we go.
I had a dream last night that I and a group of others had survived some terrible ordeal. I don’t remember what, exactly — some natural disaster like a great storm or tidal wave combined with a ship or building nearly collapsing with people inside — but when we came out of it, I remember standing with Father Mulcahy who was there in his black turtleneck, army jacket and fedora, like always, but looking shaken up, as if all the bravery and reassurance he’d spent on the others was now completely spent and he had none left for himself.
I hugged him. It was one of those legendary, long, deep hugs, one for the storybooks, and I could feel every bit of it through the dream, thank God — my arms went all the way around his shoulders and I could feel the fabric of his jacket and I could feel his hands on my back, holding me close in return, and I could feel his fragility, so I held on until I remembered that he was a priest. When I started to pull back he didn’t let go right away.
"Guess that’s close enough…" I heard him mutter very quietly. There was regret in his voice.
I kept my arms around him and kissed the side of his face. I could feel a change in his attitude, but he didn’t say anything. I tried to think of something to say, but I had only ever addressed him as “Father”. I couldn’t call him that just then. It never occurred to me to call him by his first name, Francis.
When I woke up and remembered the hug, I was so grateful that that part of the dream hadn’t slipped away.