This weekend’s Modern Love column in The New York Times was, as it often is, a tearjerker. Written by Kevin Farrell, a specialist in the Army who is currently deployed in Afghanistan, it tells the story of his proverbial one-who-got-away, Kathryn. Farrell met Kathryn several years ago, when he was just 20-years-old.
“We went to the beach and swam, held hands at the Fourth of July fireworks, went on roller coasters at Six Flags, ate Thanksgiving dinner with each other’s families, exchanged gifts on Christmas,” says Farrell of their relationship. “When I got back from basic training a couple of years ago, I felt different, as if I was doing things with my life and Kathryn wasn’t. I wanted something more, something bigger, and it didn’t seem that she did, so I broke up with her.”
Only, after some time, Farrell realized he’d made a terrible mistake. He won Kathryn back … briefly. Their relationship barely lasted two months and, this time, she broke up with him.
Farrell tried one more time to get together with Kathryn before leaving for Afghanistan, but she wasn’t receptive. And then finally, he had a mental breakthrough.
He writes, “When I got to mobilization training, I figured something out. I realized that everyone belongs somewhere. Beautiful young girls who love fashion belong in New York City, at parties and bars, having fun and meeting boys. Headstrong young men who become soldiers belong on the other side of the planet, at war, shooting and being shot at. We were both where we belonged. Over here in Afghanistan I’m doing one of the hardest things a person can do, and I might not make it home alive. I don’t know if I’m fighting for freedom, or democracy, or against terrorism. All I know is, I need to get Kathryn back into my life. But I also know I won’t, and that’s just the way it is.”
I am certainly hoping that this essay nets Farrell another chance.