Sunday, July 23, 2006

'What doesn't kill us makes us stronger.' Do you agree or disagree? Why? /Theatrical Muse Challenge

This is one of those questions where my response has shifted with the progression of time, but also in respect to what situation it deals with.  Had you asked it of me before my trip to the Congo I would have assumed you were referring to the fact I survived the siege of Vukovar while Danijela and our children lost their lives.  For most of the years since I have felt that their deaths weakened me, for how could I possible be strong when all that I loved, lived for, was gone? 

In the Congo I realized that those losses left me without the fear I should have had going into that situation.  In the beginning I used that lack of fear to taunt God, hoping I might force him to take me so I could finally be with those I loved.

It's funny how fate works, and as I watched those around me die, and then watched another plead for my life even as hers and her daughters were at risk, I realized death wasn't what I wanted.  I didn't understand that at first, I was too sick, the understanding came later, and finally I understood it for what it was.  I realized that it wasn't weakness that had been with me for all those years, it was a strength I had just failed to recognize as such. 

Every day since my family died I have asked myself why them and not me, only to realize it was never in my hands.  All that has happened was part of a greater picture then I could possibly know, and all I can do is take what it presents to me and move on.  Maybe that in itself was all I was meant to gain from it, the ability to understand that life is eternal and had I not lost Danijela and my children, the child Abby carries within her would never be.  Are three lives lost worth one gained?  That's a question I may never know the answer to, but I'm here, and that can only mean that one day I may be able to.


Into the Night/Artistic License Prompt Challenge

Story based off this picture:

They were gone, all of them. They were gone, and he was left alone with only his grief for companionship.

"Dr. Kovac, it's time." It was the Priest's voice that interrupted his thoughts and he turned dull eyes toward the man in response to his call.

"Pardon?" His brow creased as he registered that the man was still there at the gravesite, that he hadn't left as the service had finished.

"It's time to..." The Priest paused, then motioned to he gaping hole that ran parallel to the largest of the three coffins. "They're waiting." It was only when the other men were pointed out to him that he realized they were standing off to the side with shovels in hand. How long had they been there?

"Please, I need more time." The plea was quiet and he found himself moving closer to the coffins that held his family as he made it. "I'm not ready."

"Dr. Kovac, Luka." The Priest inched his way closer, pausing between steps until he was near enough to lay a hand on the grieving young man's shoulder. "It's getting dark, they need to start."

"No..." His eyes shot between the coffins, the smallest with the teddy bear resting on it, the next with a doll, and the final, the largest one, decorated with a bouquet of flowers. How could he possibly let them go?

"Luka, look at me." The Priest motioned for the men to begin their grim task even as he tried to distract him. "You can stay but you need to step back and let them do what they need to do." He took his arm firmly, fully expecting resistance, only to breathe a sigh of relief when there was none.

The next half hour was a difficult one and had he not maintained his hold on the young father's arm he was certain the man would have thrown himself into the grave as the coffins were lowered one by one into the hole. As the cemetary workers began to shovel the earth over them the man had sunk to his knees, oblivious to the snow that was falling and the dampening ground beneath it.

The final shovels of earth were done in darkness, the only illumination that offered by the moonlight and a few isolated streetlights. As the men finished the Priest left Luka's side to offer his thanks to them as well as his blessings.

If Luka was aware of the Priest's absence he didn't show it, and his eyes remained fixed on the ground that covered the graves and the snow that had begun to blanket the freshly turned earth.

"They don't have their coats, they'll be cold, I forgot to bring them. They need their coats." He crawled closer to the gravesite with the realization and by the time the Priest reached him again he had prostrated himself over it.

"Luka, son, come on, you can't stay here." How many more times would he have to go through this before the siege was over? How many more grieving father, mothers, husbands and wives, how many more children would there be before enough was enough?" Luka, time to go home." The Priest bent down to grasp his arm and surprisingly found, no resistance as he helped him to his feet.

"I don't have a home anymore...I don't have anyone." He turned to the older man as he spoke, grief and loss etched clearly on his face. "I forgot their coats...they need their coats."

"It's okay, Luka, God will take care of them, now, it's time to go." It took ten minutes for the Priest to get the the grieving husband and father to move away from the graves and another fifteen for the two of them to make it to the Chapel, but once there the man refused to enter.

"I can't." His voice was shaky as he pulled out of the older man's hold only to begin backing away. "He could have spared them....taken me instead."

"Luka, we can't question why God does what he does, now, come inside." The Priest began to move toward him only to stop as the doctor raised his hand to stop him.

"No, don't...don't try to defend it." He'd had enough and as he finished he turned his back to the man, all he wanted now was to get away.

He lost track of how long he walked, oblivious to the dark, to the cold, to the dampness of his coat as the snow continued to fall. It wasn't until he found himself on the bridge that he finally stopped, he could put an end to it all now if he chose to. Until that moment he hadn't thought about the risk of a sniper bringing him into their sights, or maybe the truth was that he was hoping for just that.

Standing at the railing it was hard not to follow the inner urge that was prodding him to climb over the side. He could be with his family, or could he? The deeper voice was impossible to ignore, suicide was not an option open to him. His hold tightened on the top rail. Why did it have to be so hard? Why was his life continually spared when those around him had theirs stolen? The questions were ones he knew held no answers, but neither could his brain cease the asking of them.

Was this all he had left to his life?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Did you get something you wanted? Good. Now thank the person who gave it 1.16/RotM Challenge

Muse: Luka Kovac/ER
Words: 261


As I write this I know there will never be enough words to express the way I feel, the way I have felt since you told me you were pregnant.  I know in the past that the subject of my first family has always been something we've avoided discussing, but, I think now, it's time we changed that. 

From the moment Jasna died, there has been this emptiness inside of me, she was the last, and with her and Marko both gone, I lost a huge portion of who I was. I can't tell you how many times I found myself turning at the sound of a child's voice as he or she called to their Tata, and each time it was like a knife piercing my heart, reminding me of what I had lost.  I didn't think I would ever know any other feeling and I certainly never thought I would hear my own child call me Tata again.

Thank you hardly seems adequate for expressing my gratitude but I just don't know what else to say.  You're giving me a gift that will bind us together for eternity and I need you to understand that I realize the importance of that commitment.  Abby, I love you and want you to know that I will be there for you, through everything this brings.  So, again, I thank you, not just for our child, but for giving me back the joy of hearing the sound of my child calling me Tata.

With love, Luka

Talk about something you inherited/Theatrical Muse Challenge

Had you asked me to talk about this as recently as two years ago I most likely would have replied that there was nothing to say.  As it had been since that moment when I'd lost my family, my mind was still wrapped around what I no longer had. I know it took coming close to death to finally break the hold my grief had held on me and with it finally gone I began to realize how much I really did have.

I think back over the last twelve years and how hard my father fought to get me to see beyond my own losses.  This was a man who had lost not just his daughter in law, and his two grandchildren, but in many ways his son as well.  Even when he lost his wife of forty five years less than a year later, he refused to let it steal away his life as I had let Danijela's death steal mine. 

My father has a quiet strength to him that is hard to imagine in one of his age, but, though it's not that which I feel I've inherited , it's his resiliency.  No matter what obstacles God has put in his way he has refused to let them change who he is or how he lives his life. I'm not saying that his life has been easy, because it hasn't been, it's just that he has always found a way to adapt to whatever the situation is without losing any of himself.

I don't think I saw that part of him in myself for a lot of years, though I think it was always there.  It's hard to admit just how lost I was, but now, with all I've been through, and everything that's happening now, I finally see it. 

A much as I thought I was ready for a relationship with Carol, with Sam, and even with Abby the first time around, I know now I wasn't.  I don't know how I thought I could be with another woman before I had really made my peace with losing Danijela.  I know now I will always love Danijela, and I think Abby understands that, understands as I do that it's ok, and there's room in my heart for both of them. I no longer have to feel I'm betraying my vows to Danijela by loving Abby.

There's a greater reward with this newly acknowledged resiliency though and that's the joy I'm feeling at the thought of becoming a father again.  I know now that I can love this child without sacrificing my feelings for the children I've lost, and that's something I never thought would be possible.  I want this child, our child, to know the sister and brother that will be watching over him or her.  I want to talk about them with a smile on my face instead of the tears that have come with the memories of them in years past, and I finally know I'm ready to do that.  Most importantly, I want this child to know his or her grandfather as Jasna and Marko knew him, I owe him that, and I can think of no better way to repay him for what he has given me.

Muse: Luka Kovac
Fandom: ER/Miscellaneous TV
Words: 546


Saturday, July 15, 2006

Love 1.15.1/Realm of the Muse

Tell someone you love them, without using any of the following words: love, adore, dear, treasure, cherish and worship.


Luka pens the following to his wife on their first anniversary of their marriage.


From the moment I saw you in that coffee bar I knew. 

You were so young, so innocent, so beautiful.  I remember thinking even then that you were the one.  It took me weeks to work up the courage to approach you, I was so sure you would think I was too old, but, once that decision was made I couldn't hold back any longer.

When I learned you'd had similar feelings about me I knew fate had intervened.  I think we both realized that we would have to take things slow, your age, my classes, but, I didn't mind, we had the rest of our lives, there was no reason to rush things.

I'd begun to think your 18th birthday would never come, but it did, and within the week you became my wife and I your husband.  Nothing I had imagined came close to how I felt that day, and our wedding night is one I will never forget.

Danijela, thank you for being my wife.  Thank you for the child you're carrying inside you.  Thank you for allowing me the privilege of being your husband and the father of your children. Thank you for giving me the life I always dreamed about but, doubted was possible.  You are the center of my world and will remain so through eternity.

Yours forever, Luka

Snapped 1.14/Realm of the Muse Challenge

You've finally snapped. Stress has gotten the better of you, and you can no longer think in long descriptive sentences. Write about the day you lost your mind, using sentences comprised of six words or fewer.


I failed them.  All my training, wasted. Oh, God, Jasna, my baby boy, my wife.  I was too late. 

There was a mortar, oh God.  I wasn't gone that long. They should have been safe.  Why didn't I let them come?  Marko was the first to die.  My baby boy, why?  Buried under debris, trapped.  Forgive me for not being there. 

Danijela and Jasna were spared that.  They were alive when I found them. There was no one to help.  I begged God to spare them.   Jasna, she couldn't breathe.  I could have saved her.  I should have saved her.  Taken her to the hospital.  How could I leave Danijela?  How could I leave my wife?  I couldn't leave one behind.  I couldn't leave my baby boy.  I screamed for help.  Kept breathing for Jasna.  No one came.  Then, Danijela was gone too. 

I had to fight for Jasna.  I had to save my daughter.  She was all I had left.  The smoke and dust became worse.  I couldn't catch my breath.  But, how could I stop? She would die if I did.  I was exhausted.  I had to catch my breath.  I couldn't think, had to rest.  Jasna was gone in minutes.  I'd let her die.  I'd killed her, just for sleep.  I was alone with their bodies. 

I begged for another mortar. Pleaded to be with my family. Pleaded with God for death. He ignored me, ignored them.  Why couldn't he take me too?  My life was over.

What is the lamest excuse you've ever given for something you've done? /Theatrical Muse Challenge

There really wasn't any excuse for what I'd done, I think that's what made getting caught that much worse. though if asked, I would have brushed it off to any number of other reasons.  I was going through some hard times, drinking too much, barely sleeping, and not really thinking about the consequences to my actions when it happened.

I know, I'm stalling, maybe because now I realize how out of line my actions were.  I'd been flirting with a patient's mother, it was harmless at first, no different then what I'd done countless times before except for the fact that we took things to a place they had no business going.  I'd ordered labs on the woman's daughter, and while we were waiting for the results we left her alone so that we could act on the feelings the flirting had fueled. 

Susan was the one to find us, after the fact but, with no doubt that something had happened.  We'd used a supply closet and she was there as we were leaving it.  I tried to throw her off by saying I was looking for some x-rays.  X-rays?  I don't even think I realized how ridiculous it sounded when I said it, I just knew I'd been caught having done something I never should have done.

I can't begin to describe the guilt I felt after the fact, not just with getting caught, not even at having acted unprofessionally with the girl's mother, but at having left the child alone.  Compounding it all was that when I did receive the girl's lab results they contained bad news, news the woman then had to break first to her daughter and then by phone, to her husband.  I don't know that I've ever felt as low as I did in those moments, but, I do know I never want to feel that way again.


If.../Theatrical Muse Challenge

If only I had done things differently.  It seems like I've spent half my life regretting the choices I've made in it.

If only I had chosen a different career.  If only I had moved Danijela and the children out of Vukovar before it was too late.  If only I had allowed the children to go with me to the market that day.  If only...

How can we not second guess our actions when the worst has happened to us?

If I had told Carol how I really felt about her leaving.  If I hadn't reacted the way I did when the mugger attacked us.  If I hadn't drank so much.  If I had realized what was really wrong with Rick.  If I hadn't driven so fast.

It's so easy to see what you should have done after it's too late.

If I hadn't taken the position at County.  If I hadn't gone to the Congo.  If I hadn't slept with Abby again.  If Abby hadn't become pregnant with my child.

I look back now on those things I would once have changed in my life and I realize they're all pieces of what makes me who I am now.  As difficult as it is living with them, I know without them I'd be incomplete, and then I would truly be lost.