04 July 2013

A Wife's Story of Unconditional Love after War Wounds and their Continued Healing Process....

This Independence Day please remember those that have continued to give much and all they have/had to keep the United States The Land of the Free and The Home of the Brave. And please give a hug, smile, love and job well done to those that stay by our wounded's sides through thick and thin. 

Please welcome a wonderful friend of mine, Sarah, who blogs at A Cherished Life and is an amazing mom, wife and now loving caretaker to her husband, a Wounded Warrior, a forever Marine. Read her story, check out her blog Here and once done, please continue reading on how you can help the Wounded Warrior Project and so many of our nations Heroes alongside Brawny Towels and their amazing Fundraiser taking place now! 
My name is Sarah - I am a stay at home Mom of three little kids, and wife to one very special Marine.
Hunter (my little man who is on the Spectrum) who is six and will be starting special ed 1st grade in the fall, Harliegh who is four and will be beginning pre-k as well in the fall of this year, and last but not least - Lila who is 16 months old.
I am wife to John, or as he is known now as Sgt. John P. Bowley, USMC, Ret.

John proudly served this country for almost 10 years in the United States Marine Corps.
He did four tours of duty between Iraq and Afghanistan. 
During his time in the Marine Corps he was stationed at both MCAS Air Station New River and Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, NC. 
He was a flight equipment mechanic while stationed at New River, and then in the spring of '06 he re-enlisted and picked up Sgt.  But due to his paperwork being processed too late to be able to re-enlist for his current MOS, he was forced to change which is how he ended up at Camp Lejeune as a combat engineer for 2nd CEB.
While John was in school for his new MOS late that summer of '06, I found out we were expecting our first little bundle of joy.  Our excitement about the pregnancy went from being absolutely elated, to complete utter sadness and even depression at times.
We found out that John would be deploying sometime late March of early April of that following year ('07).
So we knew from the get-go that John would not be able to be home for the birth of our first baby.

I found out that we were having a boy in mid-November while John was out training in California for this upcoming deployment. 
So pretty much for a majority of the pregnancy we were not together due to us deciding early on for me to stay with my parents so that if anything should come up with the pregnancy and for the actual delivery, that I would have help at any time of the day.
We spent maybe a good three months together of the entire pregnancy, and every time we got to be together his hands were always glued to my belly.

Fast forward to March of '07, John came to see me in Wisconsin one last time before he was to deploy.  We spent close to two weeks together, and to this very day I can remember almost each and every one of those days as though they happened yesterday.
It was the very last time I had with my husband, my bestest friend in the whole entire world as the man I knew him as, and married. 

John called me the night of March 30th 2007, just before he boarded the bus with all of his other fellow Marines that was to take them up to Cherry Point, NC to get on their flight.
Normally I would've been over the moon just to hear his voice, but I knew from the second I heard my phone ring, that this wasn't going to be one of his typical calls.
John was calling me from outside of the bus that he was about to board that would drive him to where he'd be boarding a plane that night to leave for a 7½ month deployment ....and the whole time, all I could think was 'I'm not there to even kiss him and hug him one last time!'
I did everything within my power during the entire duration of the phone call to choke back all the emotions I could feel bubbling up inside of me. 
I knew that he didn't have very long to talk to me, so I kept my composure as best I could so as not to worry him anymore than I knew he already was about leaving me and his unborn child.

How do you say 'Goodbye' and 'I love you' to your best friend, your soul mate, your everything knowing that there's a very good chance that that may be the last time you get to talk to them ......ever, without breaking down into uncontrollable tears???
Most get the chance to be there for this moment when their loved one leaves for a deployment, but not me - not this time.  When it came time to say 'Goodbye', I'll never forget hearing in his voice him trying to hold back tears.  Marines may be very tough on the exterior, but deep down they all have something that tugs at their heart, and in that moment I knew mines' was breaking because he could not be there for the birth of our little baby boy. 

We did eventually say 'Goodbye', and he promised he'd call me to let me know once he made it there.
And that was it.
I was in such denial about what was happening that I waited for him to hang up on his end.  I held onto my cell phone even long after it showed the call had ended and my phone was no longer lit up.
I felt completely numb all over, so completely all alone in that moment with not a shoulder to cry on or someone to give me a hug; so I curled up in my bed in the dark and cried until I couldn't cry anymore.

Ten days later my phone rang around 4:00am in the morning - it was a very odd number that showed up so I knew it was John!
We only got to talk for probably no more than a couple of minutes, but funny enough, during those couple of minutes .....I unknowingly went into labor.
I even remember mentioning to him that I was feeling uncomfortable and was having some pretty bad pains, but being that it was my first baby I thought it was probably just some Braxton Hicks, so I brushed them off.
But little did I know, that that was the very last time that I would be talking to John (as I previously mentioned) as the man I knew when I met him, and as the man that I said "I do" with.
A little over 6 hours later, Hunter came screaming into this world at a healthy 6lbs. 2oz. and was 19¾ inches long, and then 7½ months later I found out when John returned home, that the day our special little boy was born, that he was in the first of the three IED blasts on that very day as well.

After John returned home from that deployment he was not the same man he was.  
It took several years, but little by little he would open up to me and share with me of what he wentthru, saw, and had to do.  And each time he would talk, a little more of my heart would break for him.

He was 'officially' diagnosed in January of 2008 with having suffered a T.B.I. [traumatic braininjury] along with damage to his spine in his neck from those three IED blasts.
Slowly, the medications began to increase in number, and before we knew it, he was on 9 different medications to help him function every single day.  He was pretty much a regular at the naval hospital on Camp Lejeune for everything from speech and OT, to seeing a psychologist and psychiatrist as well as going to physical therapy.
Very early on his treatment they assigned him a case manager once they told him he had no choice that he was going to be medically retired.

Again - fast forward 2½ years, and after submitting John's package to Washington D.C a total of three times, he finally got the call on Wednesday August 18th 2010 that his findings were in, and that he was to meet with the medboard the very following day to find out everything.

John was rated at 80% disabled and was officially put on TDRL on October 30th of that year. 

Presently, he is in the process of applying/getting approved for SSD as his injuries he sustained continue to only worsen, and he is now facing a double fusion in his neck as well as having 2 discs replaced.

Since John's last TDRL physical, his disability rating has increased to 90% due to everything only worsening for him.  He has almost two years to go before they decide whether or not to fully retire him, or send him on his way with a severance check that they end up taking A LOT out of which in turn would leave John with a whole lot of nothing for all that he has endured and will continue to for the rest of his life.

We have also begun couples counseling to help strengthen, and work on many areas of our marriage as well as ourselves as result of the repercussions of what all happened to John.  For example, unknowingly all these years I had suffered trauma myself as a result of what happened to him during his deployment, which has left me very overly protective of him, excessively concerned and anxious at times, as well as living with the feeling like the end for him could be just around the corner every single day.  

While this isn't exactly the life I had imagined when I met and married this lovingly, amazing man that I am so proud to call my husband, to me - my life is complete.  It's my 'normal', and quite frankly in my eyes, it's perfect.  
John came home, and that's all that matters to me.

Brawny Paper Towels has put together TWO amazing ways YOU can help raise money for the amazing Wounded Warrior Program! 

  • Brawny® Paper Towels is encouraging people to help our nation’s heroes by supporting Wounded Warrior Project®- an organization dedicated to honoring and empowering Wounded Warriors.
  • The Brawny® brand will donate 1$ (up to $350,000) for every “thank you” note shared onsite to our nation’s Wounded Warriors.
  • Stay connected with Brawny Paper Towels on Twitter: @BrawnyTowels and Facebook: Facebook.com/BrawnyTowels
  • Brawny® Paper Towels is standing strong alongside Wounded Warrior Project®.
    • Overcoming the physical and emotional challenges of adjusting to ordinary life is a test of strength that every Wounded Warrior and his/her family face on a daily basis. The maker of Brawny® admires this strength and is proud to support the WWP mission.

1 comment:

  1. beautiful story. thank you so much for sharing!


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