When I first heard the news of little Cooper Harris being left in his dad’s car on a hot Atlanta day, I thought of how horrible a death it must have been for the little boy. My second thoughts were of his dad and how difficult life would be for him from now on…to live with that guilt..of realizing, although an accident, he was responsible for his own son’s death. It wouldn’t matter that the accident happened because he was too preoccupied with work, traffic, bills, life…none of that would matter. He would blame himself for the rest of his days…I can think of little worse than knowing I had caused my child’s death.
That evening, I was still watching the news when my own son, Garrett, walked in. “This is such a tragedy”, I said. Garrett watched for a while before casually saying, “It was no accident. He left him in the car on purpose. Look at him. Look at his blank expression”.
I looked. I saw it too. He had that dumbstruck, everyone should feel sorry for me look that Crisco always had. But, I still chose to give this dad the benefit of the doubt. Just because he looked like a sloppy, greasy, pervert didn’t mean he was one. Did it?
But you see, I had forgotten who I was talking to. The comments were coming from a young man who had been left alone on a lake’s shore while his dad had a rendezvous with a woman he had picked up at a gas station. The words were from a young man who had begged his dad not to have girlfriends, only to have his dad say, “don’t tell mom”. The words came from the heart of a young man who discovered “sexting” on his dad’s phone one evening when using it to contact a friend. Garrett saw Justin Ross Harris through the eyes of a son neglected. An abused son. A child who had his heart broken numerous times by a conscienceless man. When voicing this opinion, Garrett possessed none of the information that came out today regarding the case. His assessment of Harris was based on gut instinct and life experience.
And now we know. While that beautiful little man fried in the back seat of his dad’s vehicle, facing the window, his dad was sending nude photos of himself to several different women. One of them was a sixteen year old girl. He was also receiving sexually explicit photos from at least six women. And when asked if all evidence had been gathered from Harris’ computers and cell phone, one of the investigators said in today’s hearing, “We’ve barely scratched the surface and expect to find much more”. Another Crisco.
Hearing reports that Justin Ross Harris lived a double life, a fantasy life which included several personas, my thoughts traveled quickly to my former husband. I remembered my daughter, three at the time, insisting she had awakened alone at home. For months she told this story… she told her grandfather, she told me, she told anyone who would listen…but I knew I had never left her alone. She described waking from a nap and walking through every downstairs room of the house to find her dad or me. She said she walked outside and discovered the cars were gone and realized she was home alone, in the woods. She always had a frightened look in her eyes when she told of this event; and her dad always assured her it had been a nightmare. And that’s what I believed. I no longer believe it was a nightmare, I haven’t believed that for a long time now. I know it was no dream. I thought of my little girl today, left alone. Frightened.
Today, I thought of the lake incident with Garrett. My little boy, left alone. Scared.
I remembered a recording today too… One of Crisco, telling a woman, “if I didn’t have to babysit these god#a#n kids while the bi#$h is at work I could come visit”…and her response…”Come on anyway, you can be home before they wake up”. I thought of the What If’s and I felt physically ill, because I understand: There but for the Grace of God.…it could have been my little ones.
There’s a lot of criticism of Cooper’s mom tonight. I’m trying to reserve judgement, for now. But I will say this…when you are married to a manipulative, abusive sociopath/narcissist, you lose yourself. Reality becomes skewed and you damn near have a nervous breakdown on a daily basis. Sometimes you do break, completely. You crumble, but everyone else sees you as whole. When I heard the words Mrs. Harris spoke at her baby’s funeral, assuring the congregation and the world of her husband’s goodness; promising us he is a good father…I realized I know her. She sounded the way I used to sound, when I defended the monster I shared life with. I know who she is, she is a woman lost, controlled and broken. And I pray she had nothing to do with this heinous act. But I fear otherwise.
Please, if you are in a relationship with a man you know in your soul is no good, leave. Leave him to his insanity. You cannot fix him. He will not change. If you stay, as I did, you hurt your children. You cannot love enough to erase the pain and you cannot protect your children from a monster. The most precious things in your life will have their spirits crushed if you choose to stay.
Or even worse, you may kiss them on the head and strap them in a car seat and wave goodbye one hot summer day, and they may be leaving you forever.
No man (or woman) is worth it. Don’t tell yourself lies about not being able to make it without them. You will make it. Your children will make it. You will have a happier life when you aren’t slogging through a slimy pit of hell everyday. Go. Get out. Before it’s too late. Don’t tell yourself the kids need their dad…they don’t. Not a dad like that. Get them a dog. It will be loyal, protect them and love them.
In Memory of Cooper Harris, may his sweet soul rest in God’s Arms.
Danita Clark Able
Author: Letters From A Whoremonger’s Wife