The Dishonorable Discharge.
I broke down sobbing tonight after watching a video on FaceBook of soldiers coming home and surprising their families.
Fathers running into their daughters arms. Little children fiercely crying and clinging to their dad’s leg. A grown man weeping as he embraced his son, freshly off the battlefield.
But what set me off crying wasn’t just the beautiful mash-up of these families reuniting. It was when I started to call my kids over to show it to them, but stopped cold. I like to show them pictures and videos of all kinds of things, because I can turn those things into teachable moments.
I’ll show them a quick video I saw on FaceBook of firefighters cooking chili at the firehouse, and explain the life of a firefighter.
I’ll show them a picture of PD cruisers and motorcycles, and explain why there are laws and police.
I’ll try to foster gratitude by showing them a video about the living conditions of kids in India.
I wanted to show this to them to teach them about heroes. Real ones. Self-sacrificing, hard-working, salt-of-the-earth heroes.
But I just couldn’t do it. It was only once I began to call them over to watch it that I realized it, and froze. I had to get up and leave the room to deal with the sudden crushing wave of anger and sadness that swept over me.
Because I cannot show them images of what it looks like to have a real father. A father that weeps uncontrollably at the sight of the 3 year old that he has longed for and missed for the entirety of his deployment. A father that flew halfway around the world to sneak up behind his teenage daughter with a rose at her graduation ceremony. Children that never have to question whether their parent authentically loves and sacrifices for them, because the child can clearly see that being away from them caused great suffering and sadness. Being back in their presence was the greatest thing in the world to their parent.
The separation hurt daddy. Why? Because Daddy would die for you, baby. Because I flew halfway around the world just to see you smile, and I’m going to go home with you now and cook ribs and play football and have a tea party to make up for our time apart until I have to go serve my country again.
They know that I would die for them. They know what that looks like in a mother. But they have no earthly idea what that looks like in a father. And the irrational fear that gripped me was the idea that showing them what it really does look like will cause them to truly grasp what Honey’s taken from them.
Love’s opposite is not hate, it is indifference.
Of course, rationally I know that I need to be showing them things EXACTLY like this so they can see what fathers are supposed to look like. Aside from some family members they get to see be great dads, how else will they know?
I know I can’t shield them from a broken heart on this forever. They are asking so many questions now, especially Baby Girl. She has said things that have knocked the breath out of me. She is very intelligent, and she is starting to understand.
Did you know that Honey used to be in the Marines? It’s true. I used to be filled with pride when he’d be asked to stand with others on Memorial Day in our church service, so we could all applaud our American heroes. So when I saw HomeWrecker’s mom’s tag Honey in this picture on her FaceBook page on Veteran’s day, I nearly lost it. She thanked him for his service in the comments.
How much irony is there in this unintentionally condemnatory picture meant to THANK Honey?
All the irony. That is my answer to that.
It should have been used to convict Honey. To shame him. To DISHONORABLY DISCHARGE him as a member of our great armed forces and as a parent, retroactively.
EVERYONE understands how sad this is. EVERYONE understands an innocent little girl longing for her daddy. EVERYONE understands how difficult it is for the mom to explain why she’s being forced to part with him, and how excruciating it is for a child when their parent goes away, even for honorable reasons.
Well…everyone understands that except for Honey.
This is how I imagine Honey would deal with this situation if he was there in the crowd.
Since he’s real good at thinking that all men are obtuse narcissist like he is, he’d probably walk right over and separate their hands, and send the little girl back to her mother in the crowd.
The marine said ‘Uh, thanks…I guess that was for the best. Her little eyes were filling with tears. It was about to make me choke up, and we Marines don’t do that in formation.’
Honey says ‘You got it. Semper Fi, brother!’, and flashes him his Marine Corp. tattoo.
Shaking Honey’s hand, the soldier says ‘Hey, what do you know! A fellow Marine! Got any kids?’
‘Yep. A 5 year old son and a 3 year old daughter. In fact, my little girl has blonde hair and blue eyes just like yours.’
‘Oh man, that’s gotta be so hard for them to be apart from you. How long is your deployment for?’
Honey scoffs. “Oh, I’m not being deployed, brother. I’ve been out of the marines for years. I just decided to move 2,300 miles away from my kids for this woman I’ve been seeing for a few months. Had to get rid of the wife first, but she’s with the kids, so it’s all good.’
The stunned Marine asks ‘How could you leave your son with no man in his life? How could you leave your daughter with no protector, no dad? ’
Honey replied ‘Oh no, it’s all fine, see? Because I was motivated to move away for love, brother! My daughter will understand someday.’
The marine, wiping the hand he’d touched Honey with in disgust, said ‘Oh, don’t worry, a**hole. She will.’
You are not on a mission of relief in Haiti. You are not defending our freedom in the middle east. And it’s certainly clear you aren’t waiting for that day when you can run across a football field to be reunited with your kids in a blaze of hugs and joyful tears (and to actually stick around to be their parent).
You are sitting thousands of miles away in your lazy chair, chronically unemployed, playing Call of Duty. I say again; the opposite of love is not hate. It is indifference.
So you are free to go, Marine. Consider these your walking papers. We don’t need the likes of you dishonoring this fine institution, or the great institution of fatherhood. You are dismissed, soldier.