My husband was medically retired from the Army on March 28, 2011. He had severe PTSD and a TBI caused by an injury in Iraq in 2005. He had undergone brain surgery in 2008. From the moment he woke up, he was in debilitating pain from a severed nerve in his abdomen. He struggled to live his life as a civilian for nearly a year after his retirement. He was only 26, walking with a cane and unable to do any type of physical activity beyond walking short distances (generally just to get from point A to point B). He was unbelievably intelligent. Maybe even too smart fro his own good. He often over analyzed things, but always amazed me with his point of view. His view point was always completely different and far more thoughtful than others. It was impressive to say the least.
Friends described him as smart and noble. Everyone agreed they had never met anyone like Trey before. Truly one of a kind. Honestly, an amazing human being. He was weighed heavily with the guilt of the things he had to do as an Infatryman while in Iraq. He always said that they were just trying to provide for their families just like he was. These men were killing his brothers and trying to kill him and, even though he carried out his duties, he was sympathetic to these men. Over the course of the year after retirement he became more hopeless. As a young man who couldn’t live life very effectively, let alone like a 26 year old, who now felt like he was achieving nothing and would never amount to anything because of his injuries. He had recurring brain surgeries to look forward to every 5 years to replace the shunt placed in 2008. He felt like a burden and carried guilt about every instance of losing his temper or being unable to complete a task or fulfill a promise because of his inability.
On March 26, 2012 he was preparing to put gas in his car so he would be ready to go to school that afternoon without rushing. He ran upstairs to change and came down the stairs smiling telling me he’d be right back. He kissed me three times, like he always did, holding the third a little longer than the first two. Then the last thing I remember was seeing him walk out of the front door. He spent 4 hours that morning playing Mario Brothers with our youngest son while the others were at school. About 15 minutes after he left I felt sudden anxiety and called his phone 5 times with no answer. I then sent a text telling him we were coming to search for him as I feared he was in an accident. As i opened the front door to load our son into the car, an officer was walking up the driveway. I immediately started crying and asking if he was okay and if he was in an accident. The officer ignored my question as he talked to another officer on his cell phone confirming the situation. In the middle of me asking, again, about if he had been in an accident the officer said to me “Ma’am, your husband shot himself”. I later learned that he was found barely alive, gasping for air and was kept alive 15 minutes after reaching the hospital before succumbing to his injury. From the moment he was pronounced dead I was never angry with him the way everyone expected. I felt tremendous guilt that I couldn’t be there for him in his most desperate moment. He died alone. He died unhappy. He’s in a better place now and I wouldn’t change anything, as I know his death was ultimately freedom from his anguish. I wouldn’t change anything except having some way to comfort him as he slipped away. I can still see his back as he walked out of the front door and me sitting there with absolutely no idea what was about to happen.
I miss him every second of every day, but am comforted by the knowledge that, whether you believe in God or not, he’s happier now. Be it in heaven or just for the simple fact that he’s no longer suffering. I still sleep with his cologne soaked sweatshirt and the boys and I talk about him everyday. I have a framed poster size picture of him from our wedding, in his Class A’s and talk to it often. He was an incredible man and changed a lot of people’s lives. He now has a scholarship named after him and a fundraising walk for TBI that was started by his friends in his name. It’s good to know I’m not the only person who will know how truly amazing he was.