When I think of Rhea, as my husband, I think of how incredibly cherished he made me feel daily. He totally rocked as a husband. He had OCD, clinically not just made up, so he was an awesome help around the house. I never had to ask him to do anything; he just always did it, whatever it was. I would put the girls down or give them a bath, and he would pick up the kitchen or fold laundry. Truly, we made an awesome team. He was attentive and asked me about my day and always put my needs before his. He cared about my passions and watched my silly TV shows with me, because I liked them and they made me happy. He always said my job as a mom was way harder than his, and I deserved to be pampered. For real, ladies, I kinda hit the jackpot with Rhea. No, it wasn’t all perfect, we had a few bumps here and there, but really, it was good. Our marriage was really wonderful, something for the books.
A few weeks ago, I reached out to a battle buddy of Rhea’s and asked Clint to help me build shadow boxes for Rhea’s military honors and awards. The girls and I took everything over to Clint’s house where Clint and I took over the kitchen table with documents and computers, and his amazing wife, Rachel, kept track and watched all 5 kids.
During the process of building the shadow box online, I started to get really upset with myself. We went through his awards, built his ribbon rack, went through patches and unit crests and unit awards, etc. And, I couldn’t do any of it, without Clint. I knew nothing. The military, the Army, Rhea’s entire world and passion…I knew nothing. I cannot tell you the amount of nights I watched Rhea pour over his military awards book. Or, how much time I watched him build shadow boxes for other people and ribbon racks for his own soldiers. He would work countless hours on his own military book, or as Clint called it, his “I Love Me” book (apparently this is what they all called it and everybody pretty much has one in the military.) This was a huge part of him and of his life, it was important, and I can’t explain one piece of it to you.
Since that night, I have been incredibly heartbroken. I realize that I messed up. Rhea always made what was important to me, important to him. He really did, from my job, to singing, to my soap opera, to my books that I read, it was all important to him. I did not do the same, in this major part of his life. I was not all that he was to me, for him. I dropped the ball, and I’m devastated by it. I don’t get a chance to fix that. That chance for me is gone with Rhea.
I talked and cried heavily about this in my last counseling session. There’s not a thing I can do about this. It’s just something I have to deal with. The few people that I’ve talked to, other than my counselor, have told me not to be so hard on myself. And, yes, I know Rhea would say the same, and he would say that it’s just boring Army stuff. I can’t do that though, I am upset with myself, and rightly so. This is a huge deal to me. My counselor, Sonya, she totally gets that. I didn’t do this aspect of my marriage right. I can reflect on that now and see it clearly. It’s not me being hard on myself, it’s just me realizing something that I did wrong. I didn’t make his important things, my important things. He ALWAYS did that for me. He deserved the same from me. So, Sonya, said to me near the end of my session, “Now what? How long are you going to allow yourself to be upset about this? And what can you do about it?” I’m not sure this is something I can get over. And, there is not a damn thing I can do about it now. But I can learn from it.
Here is the truth that I have learned; I refuse to make this mistake again. It’s too unbearable to live with. I will not do this to my children. If dance is important to Joanna, then dance is important to me. If soccer is important to Abby, then soccer is important to me. Whatever their passion is at the time, that is my passion, too. And if someone new comes into my life down the road, I will pay attention to what’s important to them and make it important to me. And, as for Rhea’s passion, I can’t redo that time in my life. What I would give for that? You have no idea! But, I can make it important to me now, and I can learn and teach his daughters about his passion and love for the military.
I think, Rhea probably has been laughing at me as I look up and study the different ribbons and awards he has. How, I myself, have been looking up words and verbiage in his memorandums found in his “I Love Me” book in order to try and understand what indicators need to be put on which ribbons and why. The medals are beautiful, and so intricate. His passion was a wonderful passion, and is really very interesting to learn about. I don’t know why I didn’t make it important to me, for him. I’m so incredibly sorry that I didn’t.
My words of advice for all who read this, if you love someone, show them by making their life and their passions important to you. Make time for their stuff, even if it doesn’t make a lick of sense to you. Make what is important to them, important to you. Don’t mess that up.