I met my husband Alan while we were in AIT to become Combat Medics. He had a wonderful sense of humor, an infectious smile, and a personal drive to excellence that you could spot a mile away.
I later went back to my homestate of Idaho, while he went to Germany on Active Duty. I realized that I was pregnant with our daughter, Mariska. She was born June 6, 2007. We called her “The D-Day Baby.”
Alan was head over heels with Mariska….who to this day is a spitting image of him. He wanted to settle down and become serious, and on Aug 14, 2009 we married in Idaho Falls, Idaho. It was a small and quick courthouse wedding….but we had a wonderful honeymoon in Wyoming and went whitewater rafting!
Very early on Alan showed signs of mental illness (depression since high school). He had a suicide attempt before we even married. I remember having a deep conversation with him before we married and I said, “Promise me you’ll never try that again.” He promised. How foolish of me to make such a request against such a strong and profound illness….
Our marriage was met with the typical ups and downs within an Army marriage which included a deployment to Iraq. This only made his preexisting mental illness worse. He got out of Active Duty and became a civilian and later joined the Kansas Army National Guard. He was also accepted into the School of Engineering at KU. He was 3 weeks shy of starting his 1st semester there.
On Aug 12, 2013 Alan was very sick. He was verbally aggressive and verbally combative. I didn’t understand the full scope of his aggression. I sat on our bed and he walked in with his hand behind his back and continued yelling insults. He then brought his hand around and I saw him holding the gun….I knew exactly what he was going to do. I jumped off the bed and ran at him to tackle him. He put the gun up to himself, locked his eyes into mine, and pulled the trigger as I screamed “NO!”
I stopped mid-run and looked at his body, never once did I consider myself a widow in this horrific situation….my only thought was, “He finally did it” and “my daughter no longer has a father.” But the aspect of widowhood never crossed my mind. It wasn’t until later that night when I realized that in 2 days would be our 4 year wedding anniversary.
It’s been almost 3 years since Alan’s suicide. It’s off and on. There’s days where I’m ok, and there’s days where it’s a constant replay of the suicide. Mariska is now 9 at the time of this writing. She asks philosophical questions like, “were is Daddy now” or “is he in Heaven”….I still don’t like those conversations. I know I have to do them, but it’s hard. It’s also hard because his parents blame me for the suicide and think I’m at fault…but that seems to be a common theme with suicide widows.
If…..if I could put Alan in a nutshell it would be this: A hilarious man who found humor and joy in everything; he loved me and his daughter and he loved the world and learning everything around him; he had a thirst for knowledge that could never be satisfied; he loved birds (specially penguins); he could make the best mouth burnin chili in the world, and tickling him was fun because his laugh was the best sound in the world…..
……He just so happened to have a teenage onset mental illness and died by suicide.