My beautiful wife,
I see you watching me fight a war that did not end for me even after I exited the military.
I see you fighting for my medical needs at the VA.
I see you being my admin with all the piles of paperwork that military life accumulates.
I see you being patient as I finish a college degree post-military career, when most have completed it years ago.
I see you being gracious when the brain that has been jostled by IED explosions does not seem to work as efficiently as my young mind once did.
I see you being my biggest cheerleader as I navigate life as a civilian, with newfound goals that don’t include rank promotions or airborne school.
I see you listening intently to my past—not seeing it as baggage, but as my story.
I see you waking me up without shaking me, while taking a step back yourself. I see you at the restaurant, leaving me the seat that has its back against the wall.
I see you holding back a retort when I am easily aggravated while taking the trigger out on you.
I see you holding in your pain when I seclude myself and attempt to drown out the memories.
I see you distracting the kids with fun activities when my demons are getting me down more than usual.
I see you explaining to the kids that Daddy sometimes needs space, and that they have done nothing wrong.
I see you making a mental note of the anniversaries of my buddies’ deaths, which haunt me every year.
I see you . . . and I don’t always have the words to thank you. But I treasure you.
And I am grateful that you do not treat me as a broken man that needs to be dumped.
Because . . . you see me. You see a man that will do anything for his wife and children; a man who has a vision filled with purpose, despite his struggles.
You see my heart, with all the rough edges.
I see you, seeing me.
Thank you for choosing me, and for continuing to choose me every day.
I love you.