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 doctor 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.  My grandmother said I was a natural healer--the kind that is born, not taught.

Even before I was 12, I knew better than to argue with my Mi-Ma.  She was a formidable opponent.  She never got angry--instead she 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 and Di-Da 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 experience, 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.  Join Starfleet: go to school for free.  All they asked was a year for a 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 for 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 know 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 expected 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 refuse, accept 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 at least we thought it was.

Joy was tough.  She didn't cry; she didn't whine.  She told 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 only so 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 of running the house alone.  At first I could tell she was trying to be cheerful and resilient, later she was too weary to bother with the pretense.

The Indira was a more humane posting than many.  She ran supply missions including stopping in at colonies to provide medical and technical support.  It was mostly a regular schedule--eight weeks out, ten days in port, but the days passed by like hours and the weeks dragged on like months.  The assignment was fine, the shipboard 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 day.  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 grew 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 that same little girl again, and it broke my heart anew.

Joy was amazing.  She never complained, not even once.  It 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 only 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 it scarcely seemed to be problem at all.   I searched her face 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 in my lap.  All I had to do was sign on the flashing line.   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.  Any 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 are the three most amazing women any man could have the privilege to have known and to love.  My greatest satisfaction is that Joy and Joey 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 my life.

I will let you, the readers, decided for yourselves if it was a good one.

Leonard H. McCoy

(My Life on the Enterprise)