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.

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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.

A.W. Cogent

I've frequently been told I have a lot on my plate—I am a combat veteran's wife; a mama of three girls, including one bonus; a healthcare worker . . . and to envelope it all, an INFJ. All in all, I am blessed beyond measure.