Thanks for your service, darling, and goodbye. . .
Topic: Decline of the West
Somehow I missed this story when it came out in 2010. But yesterday, while searching for more information about Wife & Mother of the Year Stacey Hessler (see below), I stumbled across Courtney Cook’s “How to Leave a Soldier.” With no apparent sense of shame, she permitted Salon to publish this truly horrific document, the opening paragraphs of which give you the flavor of the whole:
You’d be surprised how easy it is to leave a soldier on deployment. You can do it with a letter. (He can’t argue with you. He doesn’t have a phone.) If you lay the groundwork early, saying to the soldier before he leaves, “This will be the end of us, we might as well admit it,” it’s that much easier. The letter won’t even come as a shock.
And if you have children with that soldier? You can handle all that with a letter, too. He’ll write it—because he cares about the kids, because he wants to work with you to do what’s best for them even though you’re leaving him—and you’ll give it to them. Here again, you will avoid a nasty confrontation. Who will they cry to? You? You’re just the teary-eyed bearer of the letter. Him? The one who’s sweating it out in the desert?
There will be no moving truck, no boxes, no house torn asunder. The soldier is peeing in a bucket as you pack. He doesn’t care who gets the couch.
The cruelty necessary to commit such an act of betrayal is probably not so rare in today’s self-esteem-focused culture. And for sure, Ms. Cook has no doubt that it’s all about her:
Then came 9/11. My husband [a reservist at the time], like so many others, saw the attacks as a call to action. He went back on active duty and volunteered for a tour in Egypt. Our children were old enough to miss their father now. I put a calendar up in the kitchen so we could check off the days, took them both for cupcakes to cheer them up as we walked home from kindergarten. A part of me was proud of how brave we were all being. The other part was weary with being brave. I took a job at an independent bookstore and started spending time with the young, funny, book-reading guys I met there. When John came back things were awkward. I couldn’t stop myself from being angry, couldn’t help feeling abandoned.
Oh, my goodness—poor Courtney! I suppose she would have been mightily offended if her soldier husband had exhibited anger and feelings of abandonment when she dumped him via letter while he was on deployment. Fortunately for their children, however, he exhibited the kind of class that’s foreign to his ex-wife’s world view.
Incidentally, Cook didn’t stay single for long:
I am married to a lithe, blue-eyed Marxist whose dissertation was on U.S. imperialism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a man who participated in war protests in Santa Cruz, Calif., during the winter I lived at Fort Knox. He has two children of his own — bright, intense redheads, close in age to mine. I live with him in a tiny apartment in Manhattan, and when we can, we commute together to work. On weekends if we are not at a museum or movie together, we are at home right up next to each other.
A “lithe blue-eyed Marxist!” Let us hope that differing interpretations of dialectical materialism do not culminate in a marital crisis.
But I'm happy to report that in the end cosmic justice took a hand, frustrating Courtney Cook’s attempt to leave her past behind:
Last July my son, the baby that was born to television coverage of Operation Desert Storm, said goodbye to his high school friends, shaved his head and enrolled in the United States Naval Academy. I am deeply proud of him, but it was my ex-husband who stood with my son on Induction Day. I could not bear to be there, could not watch the child of my body step away from the safe, civilian world I’d tried to so desperately to create for myself and him.
Actually Courtney, it’s people like your ex-husband, your son, my daughter and—come to think of it—me who maintain that “safe, civilian world” of yours. So you’re welcome.
Posted by tmg110
at 8:55 AM EDT