a war won 
dreams shattered
peace destroyed
thousands killed
more disabled
and he came home safe
physically, at least.

he could never get over it 
the survivor’s guilt ate him alive
the PTSD ruined his sleep
and the lives of people he loved.
his loss was nothing 
as compared to what others had lost 
but what he was going through did matter.

he saw his comrades across the street sometimes
he saw dead bodies on the floor in the supermarket
sudden sounds triggered him
action games took him back to the battle field
he reacted violently 
when his wife reached out to hold his hand
he loved his son,
he longed to hold him in his arms 
but he kept the distance out of fear
fear of hurting his own son.
he watched his son sleep, sometimes
his wife watched 
as she let him kiss their son good night

his wife did not give up on him
he wanted her to
he pushed her away every chance he got 
but she fought back each time
she believed their love would heal him
a small part of him wanted to believe her.

he gave up one day and let her help him
she sought professional help
it seemed to work
seemed to turn things around -
for good.
he did not react violently 
when his wife held his hand.
one day,
he even let her kiss him.
eyes closed,
neck stiff
frown on his face
fingers closed together in a fist.
he let her kiss him.
but, he did not kiss her back.
it was an improvement, they believed.

his wife wanted to take it to the next level
she invited him to sleep next to her in bed
she should have not
he gathered his pillow and blanket from the couch
and slid in bed next to her.
he should have not.
he regretted the decision the next morning
when he woke up next to his dead wife,
his finger marks around her neck.

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