Dwayne was everyone’s favorite person. He was the pride of our family. He was handsome, funny and smart. He was the brother that my brother never had. He was like a second son to my father. We were beyond proud when he enlisted in the Army and when he married his wife Makiala. They had four children. Dwayne, however, suffered from PTSD after leaving the Army and was being treated. He told his doctor and his father-in-law that his perception of reality was blurred. Early on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving in 2011 he took the life of his wife Makiala and then he took his own life. Dwayne should not have had access to guns, and a Red Flag law would have allowed his father-in-law or doctor to have his weapons removed for his own safety.
As a family, we are left trying to reconcile the charismatic person we knew with his final act. We are left trying to explain to his children why they were orphaned. We are left with two empty places at our table every Thanksgiving.