My husband and I met in December 2007 while he was on R&R from Iraq. I wanted nothing to do with him at first because in my mind what soldier comes home for R&R looking to meet his soul mate? He spotted me out of a room full of people, and since his sister knew me she insisted on introducing us. Thankfully she did because the man that I initially shot down became my first love, future husband and father to my child.
When he returned to Iraq we talked every chance we could. He got home in late June 2008 and his sister and I drove to his parent’s lake house in Georgia to spend 4th of July together. I was already smitten but after 4 amazing days together I was in love. It’s important to know that I had never spoken those words in any other relationship, even when they were said to me. He told me that he was going to make me fall in love with him, and he did.
It was fast. He was stationed in Georgia for a short time before going to Virginia for school. He came to Louisiana a few times and I went to Virginia twice. We were head over heels in love. We got engaged in September. He decided to sell his motorcycle so I rode with him. Once it was sold he drove me to the mall. He walked me straight into a jewelry store and said “I love you more than anything and I want to you to be my wife. Pick one.”
Dave started suffering from PTSD a few months after he returned home from Iraq. He battled nightmares that were so realistic I woke up in chokeholds. He hated crowds and loud noises. He was angry and quick tempered. We sought help together and separately and in August of 2010 we welcomed a beautiful little boy into the world. My husband was on cloud 9. The therapy and medication combination seemed to be helping, he was coping and we were a happy family. We PCS’ed to Virginia in September of 2011. He was in a different MOS and because he couldn’t fly on his medication his flight doctor decided to prescribe him something different. For months I asked how it was working and he assured me that he was fine. In early May of 2012 while my husband was away at WLC I stumbled upon an article online about Taryn Davis and the American Widow Project. The article left me with chills and an uneasy feeling in my stomach. I couldn’t fathom the pain that she and so many others went through in the wake of losing their husbands. I tried to imagine what I would do if it ever happened to me but I couldn’t. I couldn’t picture my life without my best friend. The man I fell asleep next to every night and woke up next to every morning. The same man who shared a bowl of cereal with our son while they watched cartoons together. The man who could pick me up over his head even after I ate too many donuts. The strongest man I knew. The man who told me a hundred times a day how much he loved me. The man who promised we would spend the rest of our lives together. But on June 4, 2012 spending the rest of OUR lives together was no longer a reality, because he ended his. We were on the phone when he did it. I hung up and called the police in Virginia and 6 hours later I was staring at 2 men in uniform standing in front of me reciting the most feared of all words when you are a military spouse “On behalf of the Secretary of Defense, we regret to inform you…” At 24 years old I was a widow and a single mother.
I used to lay with my head on my husband’s chest, listening to his heart beat because I never knew when I might not have the chance to hear it again. It still didn’t prepare me for the day that I wouldn’t. I am now one of the women I read about in the article just weeks before my husband died. I am a military widow, and as much as I hate the circumstances that have brought us together I am absolutely certain that I couldn’t find myself amongst a stronger, more compassionate group of women.