DEDICATION AND FOREWORD TO: WE ALSO COME TO SERVE--My Life
On the Enterprise
by Leonard McCoy
Dedication: For Jocelyn
and Joanna, whose personal sacrifices made my life what it became.
I never wanted to go into space. I wanted to be a country
like my grandparents. From the first time I walked into their
beneficence clinic in Malawi, smelt the antiseptic, saw the rows of
instruments lined up and patiently waiting for someone who knew how to
put them to proper use, I knew what I wanted to do.
I came back every summer, first to assist the patients, later to assist
the nurses, and by the time I was 12, to assist the doctors.
grandmother said I was a natural healer--the kind that is born, not
Even before I was 12, I knew better than to argue with my
She was a formidable opponent. She never got angry--instead
made damn sure she was right.
It was assumed I would take over eventually. The clinic sponsored my
entry into medical school and as Di-Da's health began to fail, they
took comfort in the knowledge that there would be a replacement along
soon enough. Then the floods came; Mi-Ma
went down with the clinic and the point became moot.
As the sixth of nine children, there wasn't enough money for me to
continue school. My summer work had made me rich in
but the registrar wasn't interested in that, only credits and I
couldn't round up enough to go back.
I could have gotten any number of scholarships, but that takes time so
I jumped at the first offer that seemed too good to be true.
Starfleet: go to school for free. All they asked was a year
year. How much fairer could that be?
The only thing I hadn't planned on was falling in love.
It sounds like a cliche, but it happens to be true. I fell
the girl next door. She was sweet and smart and funny and
self-assured. One day I looked up and my glands very rudely
informed me that she was mindbogglingly sexy too. I don't
how I missed it before, but I decided I would marry that girl before
anyone else got the chance.
To my eternal gratitude and delight, Joy agreed.
Joanna was a surprise. A miraculous, stupendous, glorious
surprise, but a glitch in our plans nonetheless. She was
just after I graduated, but fate moves in mysterious ways; she came
three weeks early and I was able to welcome my daughter as she was born.
It made no difference to Starfleet. I was ordered to leave my
wife and six-day old daughter and report onboard the Indira.
Joy and I talked. I had two choices. I could
a dishonorable discharge--and all that meant for my resume, my credit
rating, and my employability--and stay with my little family, or I
could live up to the word I'd given and go earn some credits to support
them. The right thing was painfully obvious to both of us--or
least we thought it was.
Joy was tough. She didn't cry; she didn't whine.
me she loved me and sent me off with a satchel full of pictures and
wishes, a promise to take good care of my daughter and the biggest kiss
she could manage with Joanna in her arms.
I cried the moment I was alone in my cabin.
I stargrammed her every day. Long pointless grams rambling on
about my bunkmate, the sickbay, the CMO, the captain, the
food--anything that came to mind. After a while there was
much to say that she hadn't heard. I tried to describe the
missions, space travel, the new worlds we walked--but trying to explain
that to a girl who's never left the hemisphere is like trying to teach
a blind man about yellow.
The grams got briefer and farther apart, but I never stopped waiting
for the ones from her. She wrote of our daughter and of the
running the house alone. At first I could tell she was trying
be cheerful and resilient, later she was too weary to bother with the
The Indira was a more humane posting than many. She ran
missions including stopping in at colonies to provide medical and
technical support. It was mostly a regular schedule--eight
out, ten days in port, but the days passed by like hours and the weeks
dragged on like months. The assignment was fine, the
facilities first rate, the medical staff all the best.
It was everything a young officer should want, however I wasn't only an
officer but a husband and father too. The ship carried a full
compliment of 283 souls and I was lonely every hour of every
I suppose I saw thousands of naked bodies in the line of duty, but only
the two in my memories ever followed me into my off hours.
They were the only two I wanted to see.
Practicing medicine made me proud and made the shifts seem all
worthwhile, still I lived for the furloughs home. My wife
more precious in her absence and my daughter was a new person to me
every reunion. Each time I left, I knew I would never see
same little girl again, and it broke my heart anew.
Joy was amazing. She never complained, not even
had been her decision as well as mine, and if she ever looked back, I
never knew it. She ran the house with an efficiency I could
marvel at, and she raised our daughter into the delightful young woman
she is today.
When it was time for me to leave the first time it nearly tore me
apart. I tried not to let her see me cry.
It got a little easier every time--to hide my pain from her that
is. Each leaving got a little easier for her as well, until
scarcely seemed to be problem at all. I searched
for cues, for some sign of a secret plea she might be holding in her
heart--please Len, stay with us; together we'll make it work--but I
never saw a single one. She was a tower of strength.
When my mandatory service ended, they offered me the Enterprise as
CMO. She was the crown jewel of the fleet, and they put her
lap. All I had to do was sign on the flashing
When I came finally home to stay, I told Joy what an honor the offer
was--how I could have any civvy job I wanted now.
She told me I might as well take it. She didn't need me at
home. She didn't want me there either.
I'll skip over the drama of our divorce and the bitter years.
surgery--even a life-saving one--makes a wound and leaves a scar; the
specifics of the procedure are best forgotten in the name of the
outcome. What I will say is that Joey, Joy and the Enterprise
the three most amazing women any man could have the privilege to have
known and to love. My greatest satisfaction is that Joy and
have forgiven me all the hurts I have caused them and my deepest regret
is that I was not three men so as to have lived a whole lifetime with
each one of them. I have done my best to divide myself among
them. I do not claim this to be the wisest or the fairest
allocation, but it is what has already happened and it is the story of
I will let you, the readers, decided for yourselves if it was a good
Leonard H. McCoy
WE ALSO COME TO SERVE
(My Life on