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Stacy McKee on "These Ties That Bind"...

Original Airdate: 11-13-08

I have this vase. It has its very own spot, right in the center of my breakfast room table, directly in front of the window, where the light will shine through it. It’s beautiful – Murano glass with multicolored stripes of orange and yellow and pink and blue… I love this vase. It was an engagement gift, and it’s one of a kind. Irreplaceable. And a few weeks ago, my kitten figured out how to jump up onto my breakfast room table (but he couldn’t figure out how to STAY on the table) so my new little kitten skidded all the way across the top of the table and crashed onto the floor below… taking my vase with him.

I jumped into action – first making sure my kitten wasn’t hurt, then starting the task of carefully sweeping up every last shard of broken glass… Only, as I stood there, broom in hand, staring down at all those beautiful broken shards, I started to cry. And cry. And cry and cry and cry and cry and pretty soon my husband was there, trying to figure out how I could possibly be sobbing – SOBBING – over what was, let’s face it, a PIECE OF GLASS. And through my crazy, slightly manic tears, I managed to blurt out that it wasn’t just a piece of glass! It was a beautiful vase. A beautiful vase that made me happy every time I looked at it and that was important because sometimes we all need reminders of things that make us happy. That vase was from a time in our life when things were new and bright and just beginning and now it’s gone. The vase is gone forever, there’s no way to bring it back. I felt connected to that vase, and I already missed it. I MISSED THE DAMN VASE.

Is what I said. Through my tears. Gesturing with my broom. Which was pretty ridiculous. Only, not – because what you don’t know is that over the summer, my dad passed away. Then a couple of weeks later, my cat passed away. Which is the only reason I have a new kitten in the first place. And the truth is – this was probably the first time I’d really – REALLY – let myself cry. I finally let myself start to feel that incredible mish mash of feelings we all have when we lose people who are important to us. I was crying for all the loss I’d been feeling for months. And it took a shattered vase to help me let it out.

In Callie Torres’s case… all it takes is some shattered bones.

I know, I know – Hahn isn’t dead. But she IS gone. And Callie is feeling it – sort of. Callie’s diving into work. She wants bones to break, skeletons to build, SOMETHING to keep her from thinking about Erica. Erica played an unbelievably important role in Callie’s life; Erica’s relationship with Callie has completely redefined how Callie sees herself. That’s something you can’t undo. Erica’s departure has left Callie with this big gaping hole that she has no idea how to fill. Callie had just started to figure out her own feelings, her own identity and now – Hahn’s gone. Without a goodbye. Whether or not Callie and Erica were ever soul mates, you can’t deny that they played irreplaceable roles in each other’s lives. The heartbreak that Callie is feeling is very very real. And very very private until – she starts to cry, and cry and cry and cry, in the OR, over the bones that she built from scratch. She’s crying for all the loss and heartbreak and sadness she hasn’t allowed herself to really feel yet. Which is why it’s so lovely that Callie’s friends – Yang, Sloan, and even Owen – recognize the moment for what it is and try to give her the privacy she needs to mourn.

Kinda like me with my vase. Only, Sara Ramirez looks WAY more glamorous than me when she cries.

Callie isn’t the only one feeling a lack of connection. It’s clear that Owen is having difficulty adjusting to life at SGH. He calls in Derek and Mark for help, then disregards their concerns about his patient. I love watching Owen’s face when he’s listening to his patient’s story, about how somewhere along the way the patient just lost the ability to connect. It’s clear that it resonates with Owen, and it’s only after that moment that he really becomes receptive to Derek. And I think that it’s because of that moment that Owen goes in for that kiss with Cristina… Owen doesn’t want to lose his ability to connect with other people. But, obviously, he’s having some difficulty connecting gracefully – that kiss isn’t soft or romantic. It’s a little desperate –- at least at first.

What’s nice is that Cristina seems to recognize this. And even though she walks away from Owen in the end, there’s no judgment there. It’s just that she doesn’t quite know what to do with all the feelings she’s feeling…

Which brings me to Cristina. And how displaced she’s got to be feeling in this episode… because of Sadie. Meredith’s Pre-Cristina Cristina. Sadie knew Meredith back when Mer was traveling around Europe. Back when Mer was a little wilder and a little crazier (What? You think a girl who can throw back multiple tequila shots and perform surgery the next day doesn’t have a past?) Back when, apparently, Meredith’s nickname was Death. Sadie shares history with Meredith that Cristina can’t. She’s connected to Meredith in a way that Cristina never can be… and that’s uncomfortable for Cristina. She doesn’t like to share – she especially doesn’t like to share her person.

One story I love in this episode involves Meredith and her other person – Derek. Meredith and Derek are as healthy and happy as we’ve ever seen them. And what I love is that they are functioning the way solid, happy couples function. In this case, Derek sees a chance for Meredith to connect with her sister, he encourages her to do so – and it works. Once Meredith talks to Lexie, she does get worried about her little sister’s well being, and enlists Derek’s help keeping Little Sloan out of Little Grey.

Which, by the way, really IS one of the most ridiculous things any grown man (especially Derek Shepherd) could say to one another man. And that makes it all the more sweet that Derek is perfectly willing to say it to Mark Sloan. He does it for Meredith. Which makes me love him for loving her so completely.

In an episode about connection, I also love that we introduce a character whose very identity is wrapped up in the fact that she has difficulty connecting with the people around her. Dixon (played beautifully by Mary McDonnell) has Aspergers syndrome, which is a mild form of autism. This doesn’t keep her from being an incredible surgeon; in fact, her obsessive interest in the human heart is probably the very thing that has helped her master it. But her condition does keep her from being able to communicate with patients or with our doctors in a way that we’re use to… The moment in the elevator, when Bailey finally realizes why Dixon is the way she is… Couldn’t love it more. Because it’s so rare that Bailey, of all our characters, ever oversteps. Only it’s so clear that she has and that she’s ashamed of it.

And then, of course, there’s Izzie. Who is clearly still connected to Denny, even beyond the grave…

Here’s what I’ll say about Denny.

I want you to take a moment, and just think for a second. About what you would do if someone you lost, who was unbelievably important to you, suddenly showed up in your room. Right now. While you’re sitting at your computer and reading this blog and suddenly feeling a chill on the back of your neck and hearing, from behind you, in a familiar voice: “Hi.” It’s someone – your lover, your parent, your grandparent, your best friend, your ex-fiancée… someone you thought was gone forever and suddenly now they are right there. Standing next to you. Asking you to talk to them, asking you to hold their hand.

Sure, at first you’d be scared and freaked out and seriously considering the possibility that you might very well be crazy… but in the next moment, what would you do? You have wished every day since that person left that you could see them, touch them, just one more time. What would you do?

I know what I’d do. I’d take my dead dad’s hand. And we’d sit there and stay up all night talking about all the things we never got a chance to talk about. And I wouldn’t care if he was dead or if I was crazy because it would be so great just to hear his voice again.

So, can you imagine, if you were Izzie, what you might do if Denny suddenly appeared to you? And after trying to ignore him, and trying to say goodbye to him, and even after BURNING his fricking sweater, he was STILL there…

All I’m saying is… maybe this is one connection that gets to defy all logic and common sense and, instead, maybe it just gets to be. Even if it does seem too good to be true.

Like the new vase that magically appeared on my desk the other day. I walked into my office and there it was. Just like new. Like magic. (Turns out my husband secretly contacted the glass factory in Venice that made my vase, found their one local retailer in the states, and – amazingly – was able to track down an almost near replica of the very vase my kitten shattered. He snuck into my office in the middle of my work day and left it there for me.) But to me it was magic. My magical Murano vase, back from the dead. And in that moment, for so so many reasons, I’d never been so happy.

This blog post was originally posted on greyswriters.com and an archive of the posts can now be found at ABC.com.

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