- Always First, My Wife: After our daughter was born, I went into a tailspin. I know I have talked about it a lot so I won't rehash the whole thing here. Suffice it to say, I put my wife through the emotional wringer. I was depressed, stressed, episodal, and emotionally inaccessible. And those were the good days. Through it all, she loved me and supported me. She knew when to draw a line in the sand and force me back into active treatment. If is wasn't for her unconditional love and support, I wouldn't be here today. Dani, I love you, baby. You are my soul, my conscience, my fulfillment, my everything. Don't ever forget it. Forever isn't enough time to express how much I love you.
- My Mother: When I returned home in early 2004, I brought the war with me. I had no identity other than the trauma which had fused itself to the core of my shattered mind and soul. My mother has loved me and supported me unconditionally. Never underestimate the power of a mother's love for her only son. After my first week home, my mother recognized that she was in over her head. Rather than get angry or go into denial, she educated herself and did everything she could to play the role of silent supporter. You have no idea how hard it was for her to not reach out or to offer unsolicited advice when she knew her baby was hurting. I could see her shaking from time to time, forcibly restraining herself and denying her instincts as a mother. Mom, I can't even begin to imagine how hard it has been, seeing the man I have become devastated to his core by PTSD. I also can't imagine the fierce pride you must feel after I pick myself up out of the dirt, time and time again, and dust myself off. I love you, Mom and I swear I will always make you proud. I get that determination from you, you know.
- My Mother-In-Law: Whenever we go down to visit, she can always tell whether it's been a good few weeks or a bad few months. She accepts that this is my burden. She worries about me and loves me unconditionally. I know it has been hard to watch her eldest daughter muddle through the mess my life had become. Regardless, she never once judged me. She never once doubted my ability to be a good husband or father. She kept her faith in me, no matter how grim the outlook. I think, on some level, she understands that with deep and abiding love for another person can also be accompanied by the most intense of emotional pain when things get tough. Over the past year, she never once brought up the PTSD. For her it didn't matter. What mattered to her was her son-in-law. Whenever I came down, she would shower me with love in the way she knows best. Food. It way sound trivial, but whenever I was there, making food for me was the only real concern when times were at their worst. I am not even sure she realized that she did this. I am sure; however, she doesn't know how much those meals and the silent hugs when we were leaving meant to me.
OK, I had to get that out. It's time they really know, the mothers in my life, how much they mean to me. Don't pass tomorrow by without telling the mothers in your lives. We have a tendency to take it for granted that they will always be there.