For him some days are harder than others. Behind the green eyes I fell in love with is another time and place that I cannot go. Hidden deep within his heart so very broken are the lives that have made him unbreakable. The men whose names are forever etched in his mind and closer still as he paces, smoking…
Some things are best kept between him, God and his infantrymen. A loss that I can never fathom but that I have felt, often, as he sleeps – at times running to those he’s lost, to the one he still searches for. In all these many years there are finally heavy moments which quickly fade…or so he would have me believe. I know it is the silence he fears. That quiet goodnight that allows the demons he fights to strengthen. Still after all this time he wakes to check on his brothers. Like a photograph – he lives in a world paused by the scars he has endured. The body he pushed to save all those beside and behind is now turning on him. His heart beats harder, faster. His new knees buckle. His back aches.
For several years after I met my husband I saw his struggle with the service he chose and the severe PTSD he did not. It is never easy to watch someone we love make an enemy of themselves and as a result…those that love them.
Through it all his ability to laugh at himself and the shit and mire he went through with his brothers was unchanged, and is what I love most about him. Bravo and I have spent many long nights talking about those he has served with, and in many ways still carries the load for. Loyal and tough, my husband has done well hiding his pain from us, but it lingers behind his smile and beautiful eyes.
As with most of the brave men he has served with the desire to remain in the fight ebbs and flows with the tide. The internal conflict between his sense of duty and the resounding effects of being abandoned by the government and civilians whose freedom he chose to fight for does not leave him. There is rarely a night that his battle goes quiet while he sleeps.
My husband decided to write down the angst bottled up over the years a long time ago but his heart had always stopped him, or the symptoms of his PTSD would be just enough to push him from the paper. When he finally dove in I was proud of him. I understood the long sleepless nights ahead would in the long run be healing…even if in the short term I knew the man I love would fight his demons all over again.
It is never easy to stand by while our husbands relive these stories, and writing them, reading them over and over takes its toll. My husband has lost years to his past and his present is once again filled with nights pacing our deck. Tears for those moments he will never share but that play like a broken record in his mind. He keeps going for his fellow men, and for those that can’t tell their own story. He has shared many things with me over the last 17 years, but to read of the life that most nights haunt him, well, truly breaks my heart…but never have I been more honored to be his wife.
I am not sharing this for what I feel is deserved gratitude for my husbands service but for the battles that never left him and for those who’s fight with combat related PTSD has ended needlessly. 22 United States Veterans commit suicide each day. In 24 hours, 22 amazing human beings will have their struggle end and for the people who love them, a new struggle begins. 22 men and women-fathers/sons/brothers, mothers/daughters/sisters die each and every day fighting with the same heart beat as my husbands. Wives like me lose their best friends and children like ours will never again get to hear their fathers laugh. Their deaths are not to be ignored and their lives still stand for those they protected even in such tragic loss. Their sacrifice is not in vain. Their beautiful souls simply couldn’t contain what they felt every moment of every day – saving those who wanted a life of freedom and choice – while seeing the very worst of humanity.
I love you my sweet husband. Do not think I don’t see you struggling tonight. I am here, always. I will never give up on you. Thank you for standing tall, and for showing me what it is to be human.
*Please take the time to watch this. Thank you.*