First, I want to thank Carlos and Rosemarie for putting their story out there. With our current study, “Women Who Fear the Lord”, Rosemarie is definatly belongs to that group. Not only did she have to deal with the truma of Carlos’ injuries, she struggled with being a wife and support to him and a mother to their two girls. Carlos like many of our warriors, especially those that are wounded, suffered from PTSD and became addicted to the pain medication.
Q: You were an experienced nurse and had training in trauma life support, but were you truly prepared to care for Carlos when he arrived home? How did you manage taking care of Carlos and your two young daughters?
Rosemarie: As a nurse, I had the knowledge of what should I expect to see when I met Carlos at the hospital. An intubated patient connected to a mechanical ventilator with drainages and monitors. However, at that point I had a different role. I was the wife of an injured husband. Being a nurse helped me understand procedures and prognosis, but I felt the same uncertainty, desperation, sadness and helplessness any other family member feels when a love one is going through a difficult time. I wasn’t completely prepared because it was an unexpected situation. Before leaving to go to Afghanistan, Carlos and I talked about what should I expect if I saw the Marines at the front door (that he had died in combat), but we never talked about him coming back home seriously injured. We didn’t expect that and weren’t aware of how many service members were injured in the war. When I stepped into Bethesda Hospital, it was eye opening to see how many wounded service members came back and how many families were affected.
When I first went to Bethesda, I traveled without my daughters in order to focus on my husband. Our daughters were four years old and five months old at the time. My mom took care of them in Puerto Rico at first, but as the weeks passed by, I was desperate to see my daughters. I felt conflicted between my two roles as a wife and a mom. I asked two friends in North Carolina (where we were stationed) to take care of my daughters there. That way they could bring my daughters to the hospital, or I could travel from Washington, D.C. to North Carolina to see them. When the doctor told me the recovery process could take two years, we started to make plans for how we could all be together. There were four women who were the key to finding us a place to stay and be able to travel daily to the hospital for treatments. We had to start early, at 5:30 in the morning, to have our older daughter ready for school, the younger for childcare, and Carlos ready for treatments. We started new routines, but we also had family members that stayed with us and helped. However, we wanted to learn how to do it as a family of four. It was hard sometimes, but God helped us through.
Q: Many marriages have crumbled under the weight of trials less life-altering than what the two of you went through, however, you’ve come out the other side stronger. Can you share some of the decisions you made along the way to fight for your marriage?
Rosemarie: There were many difficult decisions made during that period. First, we needed to prioritize roles. There were times a decision left me feeling unsatisfied, but we had to focus on what was needed in the moment. We always tried to make decisions together. It didn’t matter that Carlos was injured, we consulted each other on every decision. Carlos was injured, but he was still the head of the family. We encouraged each other. When Carlos felt ready to give up, I encouraged him. When I was feeling defeated, Carlos encouraged me. Overall, the most important thing was to pray for guidance. In this situation, we understood we were not self-sufficient. We needed God to give us the strength to continue every day.
Q: What advice would you give to someone who may not be seeking help for their depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or even addiction?
Carlos: Trying to help someone that is not actively seeking help is very challenging. It could be the person has not recognized that he or she has a problem. In my situation, I had people who confronted me, showing me that my actions were hurting me and the people who loved me. My personal advice would be do not push away the people in your life that care about and help you. Also, believe the best days of your life are not behind you, but ahead of you. I would say to somebody in that situation you are not the only person facing PTSD or addiction, so look for a professional or a support group. They can share examples of how they have faced similar situations.
Q: What were some of the ways you saw God working in your recovery?
Carlos: In the beginning, my questions were, “Where is God? and “Why me?” During my recovery, I understood God has always been there, taking care of me. He was with my Marines when I stepped on the IED. He was with my wife and daughters, giving them strength so they could comfort me. God was with the doctors, nurses, family, friends and many strangers who have become family. I saw God was making me a better father, husband and person. Each time we shared our story with someone, I saw God using my recovery for good.
Q: You say, “Standing has nothing to do with having feet.” What do you mean by that?
Carlos: In my life, standing is living God’s purpose in my life. Also, serving in my community, being a father and husband, and leading by example means standing in my life.
My daughter, Nairoby, taught me a lesson about standing. She was five years old and playing and running all over the apartment. She told me, “Now you run Papi, you run Papi!” I told her I wasn’t feeling well and couldn’t run right now. I didn’t have the legs to be able to. I went to my room crying, and Rosemarie asked me why. I told her why, and she replied, “Don’t you see that she doesn’t see what you can’t do? She looks at you as Papi.” That’s what it means to stand.
Q: Where can people learn more about Touching Lives Leaving Footprints and C.R. Evans Ministries?
Check out their testimony on CBN. https://youtu.be/GTATisdXbSU
Carlos, Thanks for your service and the reminder who we are is not based on what we can do but who we is based on what we do with the life we have been given by God.
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