March 22, 2011

Breaking Up

By MAJ. MARK CITARELLA -
It had a fairy tale beginning and it was supposed to have a fairy tale ending. Jennifer was everything I could have asked for in a woman. Our paths crossed for the first time this past fall. We immediately fell in love. In fact, she said the words first. Her confidence inspired me. I knew the dangers of taking a girlfriend into a deployment. I tried it during my last deployment to Iraq in 2005, and it was an epic failure. The problems with that relationship began before I even got on a plane, and continued throughout my time overseas. This time, as I prepared to return to Iraq, I felt a lot better about things, even though Jennifer and I had only been together a few months. She told me it would work, that the deployment wasn’t that long of a time. I jumped in both feet first. I thought she jumped in with me.

The first test of our relationship came right after the New Year, when I went to Fort Dix, N.J., for a month of training. I was less than two hours from her house in Long Island. In the beginning it went great. Every night, we spent hours on the phone. We texted. We Skyped. We talked like everything was brand new. We laughed and she made it seem like there was no way we couldn’t survive. Then came time to deploy. Before I left for Iraq on Feb. 6, I came home and it was hard accepting that it would be the last time I would see her for months. She stayed on my mind the entire journey to Baghdad.
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