“In 2017, I fell in love with a combat Army veteran. Our relationship appeared to be everything I ever wanted, and I fell deeper in love with him each day. After we fell in love and started to build our life together, more details about his life were revealed to me, and I quickly realized we were two people who weren’t meant to fall in love, but did. He told me he was in the process of getting a divorce, and we agreed to take the lengthy divorce process one step at a time while we continued our life together. ‘No big deal,’ we thought, ‘It will be finished before we know it.’ He found a better job, I was finishing my undergraduate degree, and we were both working hard for our future together.
As a combat veteran, he faced mental illness including severe PTSD, depression, and anxiety. He was being treated by professionals and it was evident he was taking all the steps necessary for proper treatment. As he shared his PTSD with me, we agreed that we were in this together and would tackle everything as a team. I was there to support him. Although he was struggling with these illnesses, an outsider would never know. He appeared to always be happy and was the ‘fun’ guy, always telling jokes. It was easy to love him.
In March 2018, I found out I was pregnant, and we were ecstatic. It seemed like everything was finally falling into place for us. We started looking for a bigger home where we would be able to expand our family. I would be graduating college soon, we would have a new home, and we would be having a baby–it doesn’t get much better than that. Then I found out I had a miscarriage. I was heartbroken. In May 2018, we found out I was pregnant again and I went through the same emotions of eagerness and excitement, but this time everything shifted for him.
On May 25 of 2019, he said, ‘I can’t do this,’ and he left. He left the life we built together and the new home I had just gotten ready for us. I was so confused and hurt, but most of all I was worried about him. ‘Where did he go? Is he okay? Where is he living?’ The following two weeks are when my life began to travel down what appeared to be a never-ending, 100 mph, down-hill, rocky road. I found out he was living two completely separate lives. He was lying to me, my family, and my friends about his marital status and was not in the process of getting a divorce. My entire world was turned up-side-down and I was at a loss for words. As confused as I was, he was still the man I loved, and I was willing to do whatever it took to make sure he got the help he needed. I would support him through every step of recovery. But I couldn’t find him. I searched. I talked to his friends. I drove around aimlessly hoping I would find him. I pleaded with people close to him to help him and draw near to him. On June 7 of 2018, I got a late-night call from the pastor. When I asked if everything is okay, he said, ‘No, he is gone.’
He is gone. As soon as he said it, I knew. He lost his battle with PTSD. My heart immediately started pounding, my mind started racing, tears started flowing, and all that came out of my mouth was, ‘Oh my gosh,’ over and over and over again. The man I love took his life. The father of my child is dead. Oh, how badly I wish I could ask him why and learn more about what happened from his eyes within those two weeks that he left. I’m convinced his mental illness took ahold of him and blurred his vision. He was unable to see another solution. If only I could hold him tight and tell him everything was going to be okay. I suppose, sometimes, this is the heartbreaking ending of mental illness. Suicide, that is. That hurts my heart. ‘Well, now what? I haven’t even told anyone I’m pregnant because I’m too afraid of losing another baby, and now I’ve lost the man I love too.’ I was physically ill. For the next 7 months, I sobbed in the car to and from every doctor’s appointment, wishing my daughter’s father were by my side. I just graduated college, moved into a new home, and now I’m left pregnant and alone, it doesn’t make sense. Filled with hope and excitement to bring our precious daughter into the world, I was grieving a tremendous loss and terrified to be a single mother. It’s not supposed to be this way. But it is. ‘I will be okay. We will be okay,’ I said time and time again. ‘We will get through this.’ After developing pre-eclampsia, I became even more anxious. What if I didn’t make it? What if she didn’t make it? I would wake up and go to bed every day praying to the Lord that we would both continue to be healthy. With dangerously high blood pressure, I was induced at 37 weeks.
On January 5, 2019, I brought our beautiful, perfect, precious daughter into the world. Alone in the delivery room, I felt like it was me and her against the world. From the second I held her in my arms, I learned a whole new meaning of love, much deeper than I ever imagined. I was made for this–to be her mom.
While I wish circumstances were different, I am incredibly thankful for how we got here because it made me even stronger and created my beautiful baby girl. I am a single mother and I love it. It won’t always be easy, and we won’t always have everything we want, but we will have each other and God’s grace, and that’s all we need. I will always be her biggest advocate and supporter. I will protect her and love her. She is my whole world. I look forward to the day when I get to tell her about the love that her daddy and I had. While it will be difficult to navigate the conversation about the decisions that were made, I will teach her about mental health and how it fully impacts a person’s life and ability to see clearly. For now, I will enjoy every moment I get to spend with her and watch her grow. I will finish graduate school so I can provide a decent life for her. I will advocate for veterans and their mental health. I will raise a strong, healthy, compassionate, and independent little girl. My daughter is my deepest love, my best friend, and my greatest motivator. I love you, my sweet girl.”
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