Rob and I met in December 1996, while we were both active in the Air Force. I was pregnant at the time, and had chosen to give my baby up for adoption. Certainly unusual circumstances, but he wasn’t like the other guys I’d gone out with before. He stood by my side and supported me emotionally through a very tough time in my life.
After two years, Rob asked me to marry him. My enlistment ended, and he decided to stay in. A year into our marriage, he got orders to RAF Mildenhall in England. Less than a year of arriving there, September 11th happened. We watched in horror, along with the whole world, the footage and aftermath. I remember looking at him and asking “What does this mean for us? Will you have to go to war?” He was an aircraft mechanic, so I’d always hoped and assumed he’d never have to see combat.
Over the remaining 3 years we were there, Rob went on quite a few missions. Several of which I was not told (or allowed to know) where. He never talked about them.
When we found out I was pregnant, after 8 years of marriage, we were ecstatic. We had been on the fence about having children all those years. So, while it wasn’t planned-I felt that God had other plans. When I was 17 weeks pregnant, I miscarried. We were both devastated.
We had our struggles. We had our issues. All married people do. I started to become increasingly concerned about his drinking. He became more and more distant from me. He decided to get help during the year we had to wait to try getting pregnant again.
He was diagnosed with PTSD. He tried several medications, and at times, seemed to be making an effort. But the drinking continued.
We suffered two more miscarriages before we became successful. During that time, Rob lost his older sister to suicide.
After our daughter was born in June 2009 (a month after our 10th anniversary), I went through my own personal struggles of PPD, and the loss of my own mother to cancer during my 5th month of pregnancy. Our marriage had reached its lowest by the time out daughter was 6 months old. I was starting to think about getting out. We weren’t talking, his drinking was reaching dangerous levels. I felt that I’d lost my husband… The man I’d married had been replaced with this shell of a man. I didn’t want me and my daughter to go down with him.
When he got orders to Washington, I decided a fresh start might be what we both needed. Unfortunately, I was wrong. On September 20, 2011 I woke up to his alarm at 5:30, but he wasn’t in bed. After a search through the house, I found his body in the garage. He had shot himself in the head with a shotgun. No note. Nothing. I was blindsided. We’d actually been talking more the week leading up to that morning. He’d stopped drinking. Looking back at it now, I can see that the days leading up to his suicide were full of delusions. I don’t know if he was trying to ask for help, and I missed it – or if he would have done it anyway. I will always wonder and regret that. I just remember thinking that as concerned as I was about what he talked about those days leading up to it – I was thankful and happy that he was finally talking to me again.
Now, I continue to live… And make sure that our daughter will always know who her father was. A kind, compassionate and caring man who loved us with his life. He will always be in our hearts.