Before the war, when Saddam Hussein was in charge, and after the war, when he was deposed. Before the war, when his family was whole, and after the war, when he lost friends and family members to insurgent attacks.
A month after the bombing, his head remains bandaged from a shrapnel wound. He can't see out of his right eye.
He's counting the days until he can go back to work as a construction day laborer.
"I don't want to live like this, I want to go back to a normal life," he said.
'Trying to figure out if it was worth it'
U.S. Army Capt. Mark Askew had seen some of the very worst of the fighting in Iraq, battling insurgents street by street in 2007 as part of a strategy that saw thousands of American troops push into areas held by Sunni militants and hold it.
Askew also saw positive changes take hold in Iraq, from its military taking responsibility for security to its lawmakers standing up a fledgling democracy.
When he left last year, on the last U.S. military convoy to leave the country, he wondered what would happen to Iraq.
Askew, who is 29, was at West Point when the war began in 2003. He watched its beginnings like many Americans -- on television.
He first stepped foot in Iraq in 2007 as part of then-President George W. Bush's "surge" policy: Push into territory held by Sunni militants and hold it.
His assignment was Mosul, 400 kilometers north of Baghdad, where Iraqi security forces were struggling to hold the city. It was there that Askew first learned the human cost of war: His executive officer was killed in a roadside bomb, leaving him briefly in charge while awaiting a replacement.
"I grew up on my first deployment," said Askew, who lives in Tampa, Florida. "It made me appreciate my family more. It made me appreciate politically what we have."
Askew returned to Iraq in 2011 with a military police unit. He was charged with securing U.S. troops at bases in the southern Shiite heartland where they were routinely targeted by Iranian-backed insurgents.
Even as he left Iraq, he wondered about the country's future: Will Iraq be stable? Will its government align itself with Iran?
The same questions have been asked by a number of Americans, from lawmakers to soldiers, as reports emerge that the United States has warned Iraq against allowing Iran to use its airspace to ship weapons to Syria, its ally.
"We're all kind of watching Iraq right now, and trying to figure out if it was worth it," he said.
'I see no good future for Iraq'
Last year, on "Iraq Day," Mahdi Auda Ghanam's family celebrated.
This year, the 25-year-old's family is in mourning. Ghanam was killed by a car bomb as he walked to a small repair shop he operated in the Shula district. It was the same November attack that wounded Adel.
"We were happy, and I distributed candies to neighbors when the Americans left Iraq last year. We thought the war was over and there would be no more killing and destruction," Ghanam's mother, Mahdiya, said. "I don't know who to blame. They said al Qaeda, but where is al Qaeda? I blame those who don't fear God."