Coming to Terms
“I’m sorry I raised my voice, Jenna,” Brad said apologetically. “I’m so used to yelling orders at my crew that it’s hard to adjust back to you. Please forgive me?”
Jenna stared into thin air trying to decide what her answer would be. Suddenly she burst out, “Damn you, Brad, how could you be so unappreciative? I want to believe you so much, but I know from previous cruises that you will only drag it on for months. Then it’s time to go back to sea again and here I am all alone. You just don’t get it, do you?”
“I hate that about you, Jenna. You just can’t get over things, can you?”
Jenna looked at Brad in utter disgust. “You are not the same man I married. You’ve changed and so have I.”
Brad muttered, “Neither of us is the same as we were when we married ten years ago. Time changed us. I think we’ve grown further apart with every year that’s passed.”
There was silence. Brad picked up his duffle bag, turned to Jenna and said, “Please take me back to the ship. That’s where I belong.”
With those words, Jenna picked up her purse, straightened her hair, walked to the garage and started the car. “Let’s go, I want you gone now.”
Not a word was spoken all the way back down to the ship. Both were stoic and yet boiling inside.
“I’m sorry it’s come to this Brad. I’ll have my lawyer contact you tomorrow.” She slowly drove away not knowing what was coming tomorrow.
Brad got out of the car without a word. Neither Jenna nor Brad thought they would ever divorce.
Jenna stopped at her mother’s house to pick up the kids and to let her know she was divorcing Brad. When she arrived, her mom was waiting for her. When she saw the look on Jenna’s face, she knew it wasn’t good news.
“Jenna, where is Brad?”, her mother questioned.
“Mom, we need to sit down and talk. Do you think we can do that while the boys are playing now?”
“Of course. I don’t think I’m going to like this conversation,” said Jenna’s mom.
Jenna began to tell her some of the problems she had with Brad. She told her that he did not come home last night but stayed on the ship and took someone else’s duty.
She talked about how difficult it was to communicate to him and how he always belittled her and started a fight. “Mom, he’s so aggressive and mean.”
“Have you tried going to see a counselor?”
“Brad won’t go. He says they’ll take away his top-secret clearance if he seeks any kind of treatment.”
“Have you gone to see a counselor?”
Her mom was not pleased with Jenna’s decision to leave Brad. She really likes him. She begged her to seek some counseling.
“How are you going to take care of the boys? You don’t even have a job.” Jenna’s mother was deeply concerned for her daughter. She knew how difficult it was to raise children alone. She raised Jenna and her other two children alone after her husband left her.
Jenna remembered how difficult her childhood was without a father present. She longed for her father to return to his family. It didn’t happen.
“Mom, you’re right. I remember how I felt as a child especially around the holidays. I just wished to have my dad back home. I don’t want my boys to grow up with that feeling.”
“Can you keep the boys another night?”
“Of course, I can. You go home and take care of your business.”
“Thanks, mom. I’ll call you tomorrow.”
Jenna left her mother’s house and drove back to her apartment. When she got home, the telephone was ringing. She picked up the receiver and said, “Hi Brad.”
“Jenna, it’s Bubba.”
She didn’t know what to say. Finally, she told Bubba what happened. He already knew because Brad was back on the ship.
“Are you alright, Jenna?”
“I’m fine. I can’t talk to you now, Bubba. I’ll get back to you later.”
Jenna hung up the phone and gathered her thoughts. She was about to put her plan in place. She kept reminding herself of her childhood.
“Hi, Brad. It’s Jenna. Can we meet and talk?”
“When do you want to meet, Jenna?”
“Can you do it now?”
“Okay. I’ll be waiting for you at the pier.”
“Great, I’ll see you in fifteen minutes.” Jenna went to put on some makeup, comb her long hair and brush her teeth.
It’s off to pick up Brad, she thought. I hope this works.
She nervously got into her car and drove down to pick up Brad. He was waiting for her at the end of the pier.
“Please get in,” she said.
She drove them back to their apartment exchanging very little words.
She sat down with him and said, “I want this to work. I don’t like fighting all the time. Is there any way you would consider coming to counseling with me?”
“Hell no. You know what would happen. I’d be declared incompetent and they would take away my clearance. I’d be put out of the Navy. Have you thought about what that would do to us?”
“Okay Brad, I understand the position you are in, but I am going to go to counseling and get some help. Maybe it will help both of us.
“Thanks, Jenna. I wish I could get some counseling. You wouldn’t believe what happened over in Nam.”
“Would you like to tell me about it?”
“We were shot at by the VC and they nearly sank us. The bombardment came so near to us. They could have killed all of us. We were on several missions while on the gun line. We fired on churches, schools, and orphanages. By the time we were done, there was nothing left. Jenna, I mean nothing!”
“Oh my God, Brad, that sounds horrible.”
Brad continued. “That’s just the beginning of it. We were sprayed with this orange substance they used to defoliate the jungle. We washed the ship down, but it was too late – we were all exposed to this shit.”
“Did you get a chance to get medication to offset whatever it was?”
“Hell no. We were told to wash down the ship and keep quiet. When we went into port something happened because our drinking water turned purple! We showered in this and ate the food that was cooked with it. It was so terrible.”
“No wonder you are so angry. Did anyone get sick as a result of this?”
“No, I couldn’t say they did. It was just the lingering taste in your mouth and insane need to scratch your skin.”
He took Jenna in his arms and just cried. She felt so sorry for him. He kissed her, looked her straight in her eyes and said,
“Jenna, I need you. You are what keeps me going. I’ve missed you so much.”
How could Jenna refuse? That night they made love as they used to when they first got married. It was as if Brad put all the anger aside and became the wonderful person she knew.
The next day Jenna made an appointment with a marriage counselor.
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