Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The Journey

The Journey
by J.D.

It had been a long day.  As he unlocked the door of his apartment Luka felt the urge to do nothing more then head to his bed and lose himself to sleep, if only it was that easy.  So much was happening, some good, some not, some to him and some to others.  How long had it been since he'd worried about what was happening to others in more then a cursory way? 

He loosened his tie and went to the refrigerator for a beer, then took a long swallow before going any further.  He was worried about Carter.  He, better then most knew what thoughts were going through the man's head, the sense of loss, the guilt, the despair.  He'd shared 5 years with Jasna, 18 months with Marko, he had smiles to remember, first steps, the sound of their laughter, and yes, even their tears.  He knew the smells that would always stir memories, and he had images of them that would forever remain in his heart and mind.  Carter had none of that, all he had was the sense of loss and the images of the son that would never see all the world had to offer.  What could he say to him that might make his journey easier then his own had been?

The question lingered as he walked into the livingroom and sank down into the couch.  He had made it known that he would be there for him, but would John accept his offer?  When he had been in the dark place that Carter now lived he had refused the comfort that those around him had tried to offer.  He had wrapped himself in his grief and misery and he had used it as a means of punishing himself for the very thing that had been beyond his control.  He hadn't wanted to hear their expressions of sympathy and so he had withdrawn, using work as his escape until it was all he had left.  He took another pull on the bottle before lowering it. 

The behaviors he had thought would take the pain away were the same ones he saw in John now, and all too well he knew they would change nothing.  How many days had he gone without sleep so that he wouldn't have to dream?  When that time finally came, when his body was too exhausted for him to pretend not to need sleep, he too had used alcohol in hopes that the dreams could be kept at bay.  It had failed for him, and it would fail for Carter, try as they might the memories would still come.  He had hated those nightmares, the cries for him to come to their rescue that he knew would go unanswered.  John's nightmares would be different, but they would still come and they would haunt him until he found a way to make peace with himself.

Drawing his lower lip between his teeth Luka stared at the phone on the table beside him, he should call him, offer him the company he most likely would refuse.  The grief was like a poison, untreated it would eat you alive, leaving behind a shell that did little more then exist.  He had worn that shell for so many years that he'd all but forgotten the man he had once been.  When had it begun to crack?  When had he finally realized that  he had once more begun to welcome the new day?

It had come slowly, he knew that, and it had come again in the guise of what he knew was his weakness.  Carol's twins, Kate and Tess, they had been the ones who had found a way into the shell he'd hidden behind, and with them had been Carol.  It had been hard at first, everything they did seemed to stir long dormant memories.  Where before he had dreaded them, the more he was with the girls the more he welcomed them.  He had tried not to see the similarities at first, wanted to believe that what he'd shared with Danijela would never be possible again, but he was wrong.  If only he knew how to make John see that too.

He could only imagine what Kem was going through, the guilt she was carrying, but how could he convince John that it wasn't a time for them to be apart?  Their strength was in each other, something he'd never had.  It wasn't hard to imagine what they were going through, yes, they blamed themselves, but, they likely blamed each other as well.  How could he make them understand that within them they held the one thing that would sustain them through the ordeal that was now their life?  What he wouldn't have given to be able to say that.  He raised the bottle to his lips and took a long, slow swallow.  How different would things have been if Danijela had survived?  If he had been able to share his grief with her instead of going through it alone...he could only imagine how different things would have been.

He would have to warn Carter that there was the risk of the grief returning, that he might think he was past it only to find it lurking in the shadows ready to pounce when he least expected it.  That too had been one of the lessons he had learned, one of those heknew he could share.  There would come a time though when he would realize that he'd gone without thinking of his loss, it might be only minutes at first, then gradually he might go an hour.  He'd never believed he would go days without thinking about his family, but in time he had, and where once he had felt guilt at that, he now knew it was simply part of the healing.  Danijela, Jasna, and Marko would always be part of him, just as John and Kem's son would be part of them, but he didn't have to be someone they remembered with sadness.  It had taken so many years for him to reach that realization, but he had, and once that had happened he knew he was ready to move on.

Maybe that was what made things with Sam feel so different then it had with any of the others.  Until her he had always felt that he was somehow betraying Danijela by being with another woman, but he knew now that he'd been wrong.  Danijela would always hold a place in his heart, as would Jasna and Marko, and no one would ever replace them.  Sam and Alex had stirred in him something he had thought he'd never experience again and he knew now that he was ready to welcome it instead of running from it as he might have only months before.  His life had not ended with the death's of his wife and children despite the years he had told himself it had.  Kem and John would discover the same in time.  He could only hope that they would draw on each other's strengths as they struggled through the dark times ahead of them.  He had made the journey alone because he'd had no choice, such was not the case for them, their love was their light, and together they would find their way through the pain and to the happiness that lay on the other side.

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