“I hear Canada and Europe are open.”
Before my husband and I were married, his best friend came up to visit from Texas. He served in the Air Force and lived on base. We almost didn’t go out that night. We went to a restaurant and a couple of different bars. It was the first time I had met him. For a few minutes, I talked to him one-on-one. We went out to the “dance floor” to see the band. I held his hand.
I remembered a former boyfriend who was upset when I held hands with his friend. I’m a hand holder. But I was engaged, and I didn’t want to cause any problems. I dropped his hand.
I will forever remember that moment. Forever, just like the moment I made a friend cry. I remember that moment whenever it’s dark, or when I’m driving, sometimes when I’m reading or listening to the radio. That moment, and all that followed it. I will always regret dropping his hand. I will always question what might have happened differently had I not. I would have gladly given up my spouse, my best friend, if it meant it would have saved Ben. I would give up my heart to save Ben.
We had just moved in to our new rental house and were still putting away kitchen stuff when my almost-in-laws came over, worry in their eyes and newspaper in their hands. Our lives changed forever in the moments that followed.
Ben had just returned from Iraq. He was suffering from PTSD. After a night at the bar, he went home and
It’s been four years. Some days it still feels like yesterday. My husband’s pain has eased over time, although there was a time – about the first two years or so – when his depression was so deep, so thorough, that I wasn’t sure we wouldn’t lose him too. I know he’s thought about it.
Ben never came to our wedding, even though he said he would. He never saw our son. He doesn’t see the look on his mom’s face when she sees my husband in the grocery store, abandons her cart and runs out because she can’t bear the pain. He doesn’t see his daughter. He doesn’t see the way I, who had only met him once, take my lunch hour at the graveyard. He doesn’t see the gallons of tears we’ve all shed.
The last time I went to the graveyard, when my tears dried up, I wondered how many tears it would take to fill up a gallon, how many tears would there be if I caught them in a bucket – like a rain barrel. But no matter how many gallons are in Ben’s tear barrel, it still won’t bring him back. So we put the thought away in a little packet and continue on our days.
If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, for the love of all that is good, please get help. Right this very minute. Veterans – I can’t thank you enough for your service to this country. But it doesn’t count if you are hurting. My friend Sandy’s husband lost his brother to PTSD, and he is working with NAMI in Montana to help veterans. He’s a veteran himself. If you can talk to anyone, it would Matt. And I know he would love to talk to you. Because he doesn’t want to lose you either. Please, just remember.
As true as it ever was last year, this post is still true – thank you, Veterans.
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