Last week I did just that. I have been working on my memoir for over six years and have told very few people about it. I've kept it a secret simply because I was scared.

I was instantly thrown into the spotlight after having the unwelcomed title of military widow bestowed upon me. I hated every moment of the news reporters in my face and the looks of pity I received everywhere I went. Grief is hard. We all handle things differently. I chose to close myself off, to hide and only surround myself by my closest friends. Don't get me wrong; the outreach from my hometown, the community of Chittenango and across the globe has been incredibly supportive. I could truly feel the love and compassion and I cannot thank everyone enough for that. But the spotlight became too heavy for me. I didn't know how to handle it all. So, I withdrew and became very private. My biggest fear is putting myself back out there. But I know it's time. It's time for me to share my story to help others.

Everyday I try to push myself and constantly try to step out of my comfort zone. Even though this was one of the scariest ventures I've embarked upon, it turned out to be both rewarding and therapeutic. We shouldn't live our lives in fear. I came toe-to-toe with my greatest fear and walked away with my hands up in victory. We all have decisions. It's these decisions that act as the fabric that compose the quilt of our lives. "I am not what happened to me. I am what I choose to become"

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  • Andrea Perez

Updated: Oct 12, 2017

I would like to start my first blog by thanking all of those who helped me get to where I am today. For those who know me, I'm sure this comes as a big shock. Not because I wrote my story down, but the fact I decided to share it with the world. How such a private person, is now disclosing something so raw and personal. I feel it's time to tell my story to hopefully help others realize they are not alone. I also want the world to know and remember a #hero Sgt Edward Bolen. The man with a heart of gold and a smile brighter than the sun.

Without the love and support from my amazing family and friends, I would not be where I am today. Thank you to those who stayed by my side when I was at my worst. Thank you to everyone who encouraged me to find happiness again. And a big thank you to my friends who encouraged me to write my story down.

To my military friends, you were brought into my life by chance and very quickly became family. I will forever cherish our time together at Ft Polk, as well as the memories we've made since.

And finally thank you to my husband Arash. Your love made me whole again. You've given me a life I didn't think was possible. I'm grateful for you each and every day.

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