Disclaimer: I don't own Brothers & Sisters, written with love, not for money.
Summary: I re-watched 1.22 "Favorite son" - What a terrific episode and I can only pray that one day, no parent will have to face the choice that Tommy/Julia had to face.
From 1.22 "Favorite son"
Tommy: “I’m afraid that if I see her, I can never ask her to do more than she already has."
Nora: "You don’t have to. You have a choice. You and Julia have a choice…. "
Tommy: "Come on. What kind of a father would I be, if I didn’t do everything I could?”
Nora: “I know. Maybe I’m not the best example of this, but sometimes being a good parent, is knowing when not to parent. You have to get out of the way and let life happen to your kids."
Tommy: “They could both die….. "
Tommy: "What if I can’t chose?”
Nora: "They need you. They both need you. Tommy, they both need their father.”
When he was a child, Tommy thought that one day he would be like his dad. A hero. A strong, honest man, who worked hard for his money. His father always had the answer to everything. His father taught him fishing and loving the land. His father taught him how to hunt and how to appraise fruit. His father thought him how to be a man.
When Kevin came out, Tommy was just two years older than his brother, but the senseless war that raged between his father and his brother was something he couldn’t understand. He loved his father, he loved his brother. One had to wrong, for the other to be right. Right?
Tommy had never really rebelled against his father, but Tommy was sure William was wrong in the way he treated Kevin. Kevin couldn’t help that he was gay. He just was. Period. How could his dad be so wrong? He had always relied on his father to know what was best, but that had changed.
When his relationship with Julia finally got serious, Tommy started to dream about having children. A boy and a girl. But Julia wasn’t ready to start a family right away and he respected that. He loved her too much to push her and so he waited patiently for the day that Julia would change her mind and be ready.
And when that day came, he was ready! They made love everywhere and nowhere, at the oddest hours of the day and in every position they could think of (and they were rather diverse!), but the months past and Julia didn’t get pregnant and Tommy, not wanting to upset her by asking her to get tested, decided to get tested first…
He felt like he got hit by one of the Ojai-trucks, when the doctor gave him the news. Sterile! He was sterile… Sterile… For several hours he just continued breathing, while that one single word continued to drone in his head like a broken record. He would never be a father. All the love-making in the world wasn’t going to change that.
After he told Julia, they discussed their options. However, once he was in the fertility-clinic, he lost all his desire to have a child. He just couldn’t get past the disappointment, that the child wouldn’t be a Walker and he wanted that. A Walker-baby. His child. A grand-child for William.
Julia had been slightly irritated when he mentioned this and had replied that the only way that their child would actually be a Walker, was if Justin or Kevin ‘did the honors’. Off course, Julia hadn’t been serious, but it just seemed like the right solution to ask Kevin. Tommy never seriously considered to ask Justin.
He had been sure that Kevin would do this for him, no questions asked, so he was terribly disappointed when Kevin flatly turned him down. The following argument, over the dinner-table at Ojai, had only enhanced his own feeling of worthlessness to a point where he reluctantly accepted Justin’s offer to be the sperm-donor, although he was second choice.
Then Kevin changed his mind and Tommy couldn’t be happier, until a few weeks later Julia discovered she was pregnant. He was even happier with that. Tommy was convinced that he would feel some ‘father’-feelings for the baby, or babies, as it later turned out to be. But the months past and despite everyone’s efforts, Tommy didn’t feel like a ‘father’.
Julia’s belly grew and Tommy was happy with that, but in a detached way, as if it wasn’t his wife, but the wife of colleague that got pregnant. He was just terribly aware of the fact that their children were not his, but his brother’s and no matter how hard he had hoped for it, he couldn’t get past that feeling of incompetence.
For months, he feared that it would be like that forever and that he would never feel like ‘a father’, no matter how hard he wanted it. It wasn't until Julia cried that her water broke that he had panicked. It was too soon! Neither the babies, nor Julia and he were ready for this.
He watched in astonishment how Justin helped Julia to give birth. He saw them for a just a brief moment and then the paramedics took over and they were off to the hospital. The waiting seemed to take forever and then came the news that ‘the girl’ was alright, but ‘the boy’ wasn’t.
Somehow ‘the girl’ turned into ‘the possible donor’ for ‘the boy’ and Tommy couldn’t grasp what was going on. ‘The girl’ didn’t even have a name, compared to ‘the boy’. They were his children and it was all so impersonal. He had to be strong for Julia, decide over his children and at the same time he couldn’t feel either of his children.
He wanted to save little William, but should it be at the risk that he would lose ‘the girl’ as well? He wanted his son. William. A Walker. A man. Just like his daddy wanted for him to have. An heir…. But ‘the girl’ had the best chances, but would only continue to have the best chances if she didn’t need to be ‘the donor’….
He’d lose his boy. He’d have a girl. No baseball-practice. Would she like ballet like Julia? If she was Justin’s, she would perhaps be a tom-boy and like to climb trees? If she was Kevin’s, she might do well in a swimming-competitions…. Or perhaps she would like to go to work for Ojai? … Like he had done…..
It wasn’t until he discussed it with Julia, that it had struck him. He suddenly felt unable to let her go. Unable to let go of Elizabeth. That was the moment that she became 'real'. Elizabeth was his girl. His daughter. And just as he gave her place in his life, came the end for his son. He held Julia’s hand, when they put their son in her arms.
“Hi, little man. You’re daddy’s here. Everything is going to be okay. You know, you’re named after my dad. Your grandpa…. He’s gonna to take good care of you.” Tommy felt the loss, the loss of a father, who had to helplessly stand by and watch how his son gave up the battle, right there in the arms of his mother.
It was so hard. So hard. Because there were other fathers. They had happy, healthy babies in their arms and he didn’t. He lost his son and he didn’t know if his daughter would make it. He had prayed for a miracle for his son, but his prayers were left unanswered. And now, he wondered if he should dare to pray for his daughter…
However, Elizabeth made it through another night. Even then, Tommy had no idea how strong she was, how tenacious her will to live was, until finally that day came, that he was allowed to hold her in his arms and he could feel her against him. At that moment, he had known that he would never let her go again.
The first steps to fatherhood had been very difficult and had caught him unprepared for the part, but Elizabeth needed him and he would be the best father he could be and, for certain, a better father than William had been. He would love her forever, but more importantly, he would love her unconditionally.