Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Love Letter Campaign: To My Husband

My Dear, Sweet Love,

Long before I was ready to admit it, I was in love with you. Not a 'little girl' kind of love, and certainly not the fantasy that we as young girls are so often subjected to- the prospect of a Prince Charming on his white horse, coming to rescue me from the evil witch.  No- this was far deeper, and much more profound.

The years have passed since that day when you quite literally stumbled into a doorway in the strangest, deliberate yet least Marine-like maneuver it had ever been my pleasure to witness.  You were supposed to be grumpy and "grumbly" and your military bearing was supposed to be 'impeccable.'  Why the little boy flirt decided to show himself on that first Monday in January, I don't know.

You were charming.  I think now that it was then I started to fall in love with you.

There are so many things that I wish you could remember.  How we fell in love, how close we were before your injury.  How we would lay close to each other and talk, endlessly, transitioning from one conversation to another seamlessly.  You remember so little of us as a couple; your memory of me from before the injury is limited to the early interactions we had, but without the emotion; the conversations that we had are now conversations that you were not a part of. The love that developed for us is not the same love that you feel now.

There are times that I want nothing more than to shake the memories back into you.  Sometimes, when it is late at night and we are laying close together, you are almost the same man that you were before your injury.  A sudden memory will come forward, only to be lost again. 

You hid your injuries from me for so long, and that hurts as much as knowing that you don't remember what our love was like before.  You came back after your injury with the need to be with me, to talk to me, to be close, but without understanding why.  Because we didn't live together, your inability to sleep didn't register with me.  You were the 'king of the studied response'- thinking about questions before answering them slowly and deliberately.  I feel like I failed you in some way because I couldn't put 'two and two' together. 

We lost an unborn child, and I nearly lost myself in grief.  I thought you were the strong one, but I realize now that a lot of that strength was because there were no real emotional attachments to me, or to that unborn child.

I thought we were completely committed to each other, but found out later that you were lost.  You had shadows of emotion, but nothing tangible.  You found yourself with someone else, someone from your past, from long before me.  Not that you felt any more for her than you did for me, but because you were trying to find yourself and understand why your emotions were void.  I don't blame you, and although it hurts beyond words I understand, and I forgive you.

I don't know when or where things changed for you, but they did.  At some point, you told me your 'head cleared.'  Rather than remembering, however, your emotions have developed anew.  You are emotionally vested in us- not just in me, but in my children who you call your own.  I see the love that you feel for them, and for me, in your actions and in your words every day. 

We finally married, and moved together to your home in a different state.  In a few short months, we will welcome a little boy.

It is difficult to see you stumble, to hear you stutter trying to speak, and to see you struggle with your memory and the little things that were so simple before your injury.  I struggle with knowing that the time we were together before your injury is gone, and the memories that we shared are now mine alone.  No, it isn't fair that our lives have been challenged and changed this way, but we cannot change what has happened.  We can only move forward.  The love that we feel for each other now is just as real as what we felt before your injury, but is more intense, with a closeness that makes everything that we have gone through seem worth it. I miss the man that I fell in love with, but the man that found his way back to us is so much more than I ever imagined.  This is no fairy tale, sweetheart, but make no mistakes, you are most definitely my Prince Charming. 

Tonight, as I do every night, when I curl up next to you as close as I can possibly be, I will silently thank you- for being the man that you were when we met, for finding your way through the darkness back to me, and for being the man that you are now.  I love you, more than any words put onto paper could ever convey.

All My Love,
Your Wife

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.com/love_letters.html.

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