Chapter Sixteen

The Long Wait

“Why are they always late? My God, it’s like waiting to have your tooth pulled” said Jenna as she sat in the counselor’s office. She was nervous and worried.

What if the counselor told her to get a divorce?  What would she do? 

The door opened.  A tall buxom woman stepped forward and motioned to Jenna to come in.  Jenna’s knees were shaking as she entered the counselor’s office.

The office was furnished with old antique furniture.  Jenna hated that period of furniture.  It made her feel uncomfortable already.  As she gazed around, she saw a chair that looked semi-comfortable, a couch that looked very old and used, and a giant desk stacked with papers and files.

The counselor gently closed the door and sat down behind the huge desk.

“Good morning, Jenna. How are you today?” “What brings you here to see me?”

“Good morning” Jenna replied. “I’m here because of my husband. He is in the military and if he goes to counseling, he will lose his clearance and job. I want to share with you our situation. Okay?”

The counselor looked at Jenna with a jaundiced eye and said, “Jenna, that’s not how we normally operate. But if it’s the only way we can get the job done, then so be it.” “Do you mind if I ask you questions along the way?”

Jenna looked at the counselor and nodded her head indicating “yes” it would be alright.

“Please continue, Jenna.”

“My husband’s name is Brad.  He is a Senior Chief in the Navy stationed aboard the USS Mathers. It’s a destroyer, you know.”

The counselor gave a little chuckle at the comment. Then Jenna continued.

“Brad and I got married when I was eighteen years old and he twenty-one years old.  We grew up together and even went to the same school. When Brad asked me to marry him, I was ecstatic! We were married right after my graduation from college.  Brad was already in the Navy and well on his way to climbing the non-commissioned officer ladder. Even though money was tight, we had fun making ends meet. It wasn’t too long before we had our first son. He was a screamer and Brad couldn’t stand to hear him cry. This began our disagreements. They never seemed to get resolved, they just dragged on until we were tired of arguing with one another. Two years later, I discovered I was pregnant with our second son. Brad seemed overwhelmed and boxed in because he wasn’t a baby lover. Are most men? I noticed our relationship going South after about five years. He remained distant and immersed himself in his work. His work generally took him away from the boys and me. This last time he went on a nine and one-half month cruise to Vietnam. When he returned, he told me what happened over there. It was a big secret and it played on his mind because they sank a Russian submarine with one-hundred sailors onboard. All were killed! Brad cannot deal with this and his family. Last night he told me he wanted a divorce. What do I do? We need help?”

“Let’s get some background details first, okay Jenna?

What the heck does she want with me?  I’m here for Brad. He’s the problem.

Tell me about your family, Jenna.  Are your parents alive?

Jenna took a deep breath and told the counselor that they were both alive but divorced.

“How long have they been divorced?”

“Since I was five years old.”

“Do you have any siblings?”

“Yes, three.  One brother and two sisters.  All my siblings are younger than me.”

“Do you have a close relationship with your mother and father?” What about your siblings?”

Jenna thought for a second.  “I’m close to my mother, haven’t heard from my father since I was ten years old, and I don’t have any communication with my brother and sisters.  They live far away from me, so I never see them.”

“Do you think that affects your relationship with your husband?”

“Why should it?

“Maybe you’re transferring your feelings of abandonment to Brad.  Did you ever think about that?”

Wait a minute.  I’m here because my husband is gone for nine and one-half months a year and when he returns, he doesn’t even want to spend time with his family.”

“I need help with handling this, do you understand?”

The counselor just looked at Jenna without muttering a word.

She slowly turned to Jenna and said, ‘Do you want my help or not?”

That question really hit home to Jenna.  Why was she here?  She thought for a moment, composed herself, and said, “I need help, can you help me?”

“I can’t make any promises, Jenna, but I will try.  It’s up to you.”

With that, the two continued with the session.  By the end of the hour session, Jenna had a lot to think about.

Was she shutting Brad out?

Driving home many thoughts ran through her head.  She wanted so much for the relationship to work.

When they got home that night Brad seemed to go into a world all his own. He asked Jenna how her meeting with the counselor went.  He was surprised to hear that Jenna had some self-reflection to analyze.  He thought for sure it was him.

Then Brad put two and two together. He started screaming at Jenna.  I just figured it out.  You are going to counseling because you cheated on me while I was gone, right? This came out of the blue.

Brad heard the other sailors on the ship talking about their affairs with sailor’s wives.  This put him into a state of mind that was indescribable. He picked up the coffee table and threw it across the room just missing Jenna.

“Damn you, damn you, damn you!  You’re a royal piece of shit!” “I know you were cheating on me with Roger”.

“But he was on the ship with you while you were gone.  How could that be?” questioned Jenna.

Jenna stood in the corner shaking and afraid to move. She was afraid Brad would kill her.  When she looked into his eyes all she saw was hate and disgust.

“You’re crazy. I didn’t do anything while you were gone.  When did I have time?  I was taking care of our two boys.  Why do you treat me like this?”

Brad looked at how frightened his wife was.  He couldn’t control himself.  Something was eating him alive and he was taking it out on Jenna.

Still, he didn’t feel as if he was the sole reason their marriage was on the rocks.

“It’s all your fault. You make me lose my temper.”

Jenna convinced Brad to sit down and talk. “Talk, what is there to talk about?”

She begged him to talk to her.  “What’s the matter? Why are you so mad at me?  What did I do?  I stayed home and waited for you while you were gone, and I end up getting this thrown in my face.  I just don’t understand you at all!”

Brad decided he had to tell Jenna the turmoil he kept inside.

“I know I have not been easy to live with and I don’t know how you put up with me.”

“I’m talking about all the ghosts I have in my past that I have to deal with.  These cruises aren’t easy on me and this last one did me in. There’s no way you could understand.”

Jenna made the motion for him to keep talking.  “Brad, this is so important.  I want to understand you and maybe we can help each other.”

Her words seemed to have a calming effect on him.

“Jenna, I have so much to tell you. I was so young when I joined the Navy.  My parents never thought I’d amount to anything.  I feel that I owe the Navy everything for educating me and giving me a profession.  I am who I am today because of the Navy.”

Jenna listened to Brad’s words. She knew she couldn’t interrupt Brad because that would cause him to go into a rage that was destructive. So, she sat back and let him continue.  “Even though my job took me away from you and the kids, I always felt like I was providing for you.  I was so proud of that.  Then came this last cruise.”

“Jenna, I think I was in hell!  I hold a Top-Secret clearance and oversaw sonar, so the captain included me in his secret meeting. We were on our way to Hawaii when we received an encrypted message to search for a Russian submarine.  The government was afraid it was going to launch a nuclear missile at Hawaii.  The Russians lost sight of it and feared the submarine went rogue.  The dissentient strain of the Russian government put fifteen additional sailors on that submarine.  This caused alarm and of course suspicion.  We tracked the submarine and were given the orders to sink it.  Jenna, I had to order the procedure to sink the sub and kill one hundred men!  We sank it! I have never been in a position like this before and it haunts me to this day.  They came and raised the submarine because it stopped to get the rest of the encryption equipment left behind when they captured the spy ship. When they raised the submarine, it split in half.  Since it had nuclear missiles aboard, it became a nightmare.  Radiation engulfed the sub and we had to bury the six sailors in cement coffins to confine the radiation. Jenna, this submarine could have caused the beginning of World War III.  I didn’t know what to do, but I knew I had to follow orders.   Only a few of us were aware of what was happening, and we were sworn to secrecy.  It’s eating me alive thinking of all those sailors we killed.”

Jenna didn’t know what to say or do.  She finally said, “Brad you did what you had to do in order to save millions of lives. You’re a hero.”

Brad looked at Jenna and cried.  He couldn’t help himself.  The tears just flowed like a fountain.  Jenna hugged him and held him for a long time.

“Our life is a terrible mess, Brad.  How do we make it better? More importantly, how do we get past what you had to endure?”

Brad looked at Jenna lovingly, “Jenna I’m not sure I can get over this.  It has consumed my life.  I don’t want to be with anyone.  It is so overwhelming that I can’t deal with it along with any normal everyday problems.”

Jenna paused and looked at Brad lovingly.  “Brad you know I love you.  I just don’t know how to solve this problem.  I need a husband and father for our children, and it sounds as if you have decided to check out of that position.  Am I correct?”

Brad looked at her with tears flowing down his cheeks and uttered the words Jenna dreaded to hear, “Yes Jenna.  I love you and my children, but I can’t deal with life.  I think it’s best for you and the boys to move on without me.”

Jenna was shocked.  She just sat and stared at the wall unable to move or say anything.

<<<<<< The Beginning | Next Chapter >>>>>>

 

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