Hey there – Let me start by saying thank you for your service. Really. Until I bore the full weight of the cost of our freedom, I did not truly value and appreciate all those who serve, even though I believed I did. And the more Seals I come to know, the more badass I realize you are. .
Now then. My story;
I am one of the many URWs in the country. Took me longer than it should have to figure out that acronymn on my Widow ID – Unremarried Widow. But my husband was faster on his feet than I used to be.
My husband, Lt. Louis Allen, died in Iraq in 2005. Our four boys were ages 6,5,3,and 1. Let’s just say it’s an understatement to say that I loved Lou harder than I knew was possible. Losing him and being faced with raising our kids alone – sucked. Still does. Worse, we found out he and his commanding officer Cpt Phillip Esposito were murdered on base by one of our very own, SSG Alberto Martinez. It’s a complicated story that includes a 3 1/2 year court martial process and the acquittal of my husband’s killer even after he offered a guilty plea. It made national news and has its own Wikipedia page. But none of that told the full story.
I was young, immature, and crippled with pain and fear. I was no match for what I was thrust into, and it beat me for a long time. I made steps forward, earning my Masters degree, writing my book about this (Front Toward Enemy), and then another book. But I also set myself back with bad decisions, misplaced trust, and a slew of mistakes that not only almost destroyed me again, but hurt my kids. Lucky for me there have been extraordinary people in my life since Lou died. Some of these are long time friends or family, but most of them came into my world after I lost Lou. They are veterans, like the Vietnam veterans who have helped me fight for my husband’s Purple Heart or shared their stories with me. They are active duty, like the JAG officer who was first friends with Lou, and then walked with me through the court martial into a solid friendship today. They are fellow widows like Taya Kyle, who I have the good fortune of having come to know and now consider a friend. They are civilians like David Vobora, whom you also interviewed, and they are my children, who are my strongest inspiration. Thanks to all of these people I have made it through things I would never have believed I could, had you told me I would. Not that I don’t still make mistakes, it’s just that some of them are now fun mistakes, and all of them are now viewed as lessons or challenges.