To My Husband,
I am loved. Beginning with our very first phone call I knew you were special. I was at a confusing crossroads in my life, unsure about my direction and who I was. I was the nervous young mother of two, and frightened at the prospect of a relationship. You asked simply, “Couldn’t you use another friend?” When you held my hand on our first date, I prayed you would never leave. Your hand in mine still feels warm and steadying as ever. We have been connected ever since that first night. I found myself anxious for my workday to be over so I could rush back to see you. You started calling to ask about my day and to make sure I arrived home safely. Said you couldn’t wait to see me, couldn’t stand to see me go. You promised to spend your life with me. People thought we were rushing into things, it would never last. And here we are 16 years later, full of love, and standing together.
I am honored. You chose to share your life with me.
I am grateful. You accepted my children as your own and together we have raised an amazing family. Our little ones are now young adults now finding their way in the world. I love how you miss them. Ask about them. Worry about them. Dad talks a tough game, but I see it. That sadness when they leave, longing to have them back, to rewind the clock. You want to protect them, but they have to learn life’s lessons on their own.
I am proud. No one takes more pride in his service to his country. You have served your country honorably for almost 24 years and through deployments to the Persian Gulf, Hungary, and Iraq. I remember you writing me that you were working on Christmas to make the day easier for the younger soldiers who were missing home. Yet, you called or wrote whenever you could find a moment for yourself, at times standing in line for an hour or two to make a call home, or send an email to let us know you were ok. You were injured, struck by TBI and loss of vision, and by PTSD which never seems to let go. Still, you would go back tomorrow if you could. Whether it was as a paramedic on the ambulance, a lieutenant and a firefighter, or as an ammunition inspector in the Army Reserves, you have always gone above and beyond the call of duty.
I am blessed. You have seen me at my absolute worst, and called me beautiful. I see so much of your grandfather in your faith, honesty, and commitment. You possess a kind and gentle soul. You stood by me at my depths, holding me close and wiping my tears. Whispering, “It will be alright,” and calming my fears.
I am safe. When fear creeps in, you are here to reassure me. You take my hand, touch my cheek. I know that I am not alone. You have always been my source of strength. When you are gone, I am not whole. I cannot bear to see you leave again, after so many goodbyes, waiting for calls and letters to come from far away.
I am strong. When you were sick and far from home, it broke my heart that I could not be with you, take care of you. But you convinced me you were so much better than you were. You switched roles and took care of me, encouraging me to keep moving forward for our children at home who were depending on me.
I am heartbroken. To hear you say you are a burden, you’re damaged goods, you’re broken. I love you even more because when things are not right in your world, they are not right with mine. You have scars and fears and they make you even dearer to me. I am in awe of your strength and determination. Accomplishments and tasks no longer come easily. You energy runs low. Those times I get to hold your hand and walk through it with you side by side. I am here.
I am in love. I have always imagined us growing old together. We laugh about being the little old couple on the bench, or shuffling through the store. I’ll be grumbling and you’ll be shaking your cane at me. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am a better person for having been loved by you.
This blog post is part of The Love Letter Campaign... a project started by FamilyOfaVet.com to encourage those who love a hero to write a letter sharing their story (where they started, what they've faced together, and why their love endures). It's not just for spouses, but also for parents, siblings, caregivers, and friends. It's about telling the "rest" of our stories... stories that continue despite PTSD, TBI, and the challenges of life after combat. To share your love letter or find out more about the campaign, visit http://www.familyofavet.co