WASHINGTON — When Carina Kutch, of Fort Collins, Colorado, joins thousands later this month to run the Marine Corps Marathon, she’ll also pay her first visit to her husband’s grave since he took his own life five years ago.
Carina and her husband, Sgt. Richard Kutch, lived in Bethesda, Maryland, while he served at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Though he grew up in Fredericksburg, they met in Colorado.
“I met my husband when I was 17,” Carina said — at a concert she had to sneak into. “He was playing in a band and it was just like a first sight … not to sound corny, but it was definitely one of those ‘Oh my gosh he’s a guitarist!’ [moments] and he was just such a nice, happy guy.”
“He was the first person I was really in love with and he just cared so much about everybody.”
He eventually joined the Army to become a nurse, and served in Afghanistan as a combat medic before his deployment to Walter Reed. Carina said what he saw on those assignments would eventually overwhelm him.
“He lost people out of his unit in Afghanistan. He definitely had survivor’s guilt,” said Carina. “He really felt the impact of the soldiers that he worked with. He worked on the floor with all the Wounded Warriors — the people that were missing limbs — and he just cared so much.”
His wife blames post-traumatic stress disorder for his suicide, which happened in a wooded area in Virginia in early September 2013. It happened the weekend their son, Duke, was about to turn 1-year-old.
“If it weren’t for [Duke] I don’t know how I would have handled everything,” she said. “My son is so much like his father, it’s kind of eerie in a way; but then awesome because an obvious part of him has lived on.”
Now that Duke is 6-years-old, the trip for the Oct. 28 marathon will provide an opportunity to explain why daddy isn’t home every day, Carina said. It’ll also be the first time she has been able to face up to her loss and visit her husband.
“I actually have not been back to the site where he was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery since his funeral,” said Carina. “I’m probably going to be horribly emotional … There’s obviously sadness, but then just gratitude that I had someone like that in my life.”
A marathon isn’t easy, but life hasn’t been either. She hopes her grief can serve as an example to others. She wants to show those who have a similar story that it’s possible to get through such a tragic event.
But she also wants those battling depression and PTSD to see her story and her struggles.
Carina said she really wants to let people know: “Your families are not better off without you.”
“As a wife and a mother, my son is impacted every single day by the fact that his father isn’t here. He always asks me ‘Why isn’t Dad here?’ and I try to explain to him all the good stuff. I try to keep it in the positive.
“But your family would do anything for you. I would have done anything to find the answer for my husband to feel what he needed to keep fighting. If anything, just know that your family would do anything for you. I want people to know that no one is better off without the person that they lose. I’m grateful every day that I had my husband. But I wish — I wish he was still here to experience all the great things that our son is accomplishing.”