Sunday, October 29, 2006
She was just a little girl, a little girl who wanted no more than any other child does, and she was put through so much. I've talked often about the Congo, and what happened to me, what happened to Patrique. I've mentioned Chance and her mother in passing, but I've never really touched on all they endured to stay at my side.
Chance first came to our attention when she stepped on a landmine near our immunization clinic in Matenda. She was a beautiful little girl, and now I was going to have to cut off her leg without even the benefit of the bare minimum needed for a field operating room. No anesthetic, no surgical saws. No, we poured iodine over a machete and prayed that she'd soon fall unconscious so she wouldn't suffer any more pain. Her screams were a nightmare, as were those of her mothers, but we had no choice if we were to save her life.
We take an oath to first do no harm and then we torture innocent children in the guise of trying to heal them. I know, it wasn't as if we intended it as torture but if you had heard her screams you couldn't think of it as anything less?
Even as we worked on her the Mai Mai and Government troops were fighting around us. At any time during the surgery we could have all been killed, but I couldn't leave until we were done, I had to give her that much of a chance. As soon as I had taken her leg and tied off the last of the bleeders I was forced to scoop her into my arms so we could flee into the abandoned fields that surrounded the clinic, it was our only chance for safety. We spent the rest of that night in hiding, hoping that we wouldn't be found.
Her risk for infection would only grow worse later when we were taken by the Mai Mai and she was deprived of all medical care, but that was the least of the things she would have to face. She was forced to sit and listen to the sounds of her mother's cries as she was gang raped, no doubt wondering if she would suffer the same fate. She was forced to bear witness to the murder of those who were held with us, and then watch as her mother placed their lives at risk once more as she pleaded to save mine with a lie that could have gotten them both killed.
But they didn't die, she didn't die, they survived and she now has a lifetime ahead of her, as do I because of them.
Saturday, October 28, 2006
"Breathe, baby...breathe for Tata." Even as he tried to coax one more breath from his daughter he knew his efforts were futile, she was gone, like her mother and her brother before her...they were all gone. He held his eldest in his arms, burying his face in her sweater as his grief overtook him.
It took several minutes before he could let her go and then it was only so he could lift her up and place her in her mothers arms. As if somehow in death she could offer the protection they couldn't give her in life.
He was exhausted, the hours he'd spent struggling to save his young daughter's life had taken their toll, but he couldn't yet rest, not while Marko was separated from them. Forcing himself to his feet he climbed over the piles of rubble that had been their home, until he saw the railings of his young son's crib. The crib that had become the toddler's tomb.
Dropping to his knees he touched the boy's fingers, the only part of him that was visible. How long had he held out hope that someone might see him and come to his rescue? Carefully he began lifting the debris off of him, as if he moved too suddenly it might somehow cause him more pain then he had already felt.
"Marko..." He whispered the small boy's name as he finally freed his bruised body.
"I'm so sorry." As he picked him up he cradled him to his chest, unable to hold back his tears any longer.
"Such a brave boy..." He whispered the words to him as he stood, then grew silent as he carried him over and laid him in his mother's arms, next to his sister.
How could he leave them here? Even as he asked the question of himself he knew he couldn't and it seemed only right that he take his place beside them. Maybe, fate would intervene, realize it's mistake and come to claim him too. As he stretched out alongside them and wrapped his arms around Danijela and his children he knew how much that was to ask for, but he had to try...he had to try...
Friday, October 27, 2006
1. Prompt 06: Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.” C. S. Lewis.
2. Character: Luka Kovac
3. Warnings: sensitive subject matter
4. Pairings: n/a
5. Your character's fandom: ER
6. Word count: 310
7. Rating: PG
8. Disclaimer: Goran Visnjic's image and the character of Luka Kovac of ER are not mine. No copyright infringement is intended with their use, they are for entertainment/writing purposes only.
They'd been without water for over a week, without power, except what could be gained from several small generators for almost as long, supplies were increasingly scarce, and still the casualties came. The hospital staff had been pushed to their limits for longer then that, but what could they do? Doctor, Intern, Resident, Nurse, or Aide, their titles no longer mattered, all that mattered now was providing the best care they could to those who needed it.
The latest wave of casualties were victims of a sniper who had opened fire on a civilians standing in a bread queue. Old men, women, children, it hadn't mattered, all had been targets and those who had survived were brought into the already overflowing hospital.
"Luka, take the little girl." Dr. Bajic jerked his head toward a man who carried a young child in his arms as he hurried through the doors of the already crowded hospital ward.
"Sir, this way." The young resident rinsed his gloved hands in a basin of blood tinged water and wiped them on a towel that lay beside it as he directed the man to a gurney that already held another injured child.
Even before the girl was fully on the table he'd begun his assessment of her, fully aware that every minute he wasted could mean the difference between life and death to her.
These were the lessons he was learning on a daily basis, the lessons his textbooks could never have taught him, but ones he wished could have been revealed under any other circumstances but the ones they were now being taught. These were the lessons that he would never forget, the lessons that would remain with him long after the war ended, long after he finished medical school and moved into a practice of his own. These were the lessons of a lifetime.
Had it really been that many years?. Standing at the graveside now, it was hard to believe so many years had passed since they had been laid to rest. He bowed his head, letting the thick shock of black bangs fall into his eyes as he whispered a prayer for those long gone. As he finished he stepped forward, touching each name as if he could touch those who rested beneath the stones with the contact.
Danijela Kovac...Beloved Wife and Mother...born 1968...died 1991
Jasna Kovac...Beloved Daughter and big Sister...born 1986...died 1991
Marko Kovac...Beloved Son and Brother...born 1989...died 1991
Lives lost before they had even had a chance to begin living. How many times had he heard their story while he was growing up, seen the small picture of the woman and young girl who held his father's heart captive.
"I've brought him back to you." Joe Kovac wiped the tears from his face as he spoke the words aloud, then stepped forward to touch the newest marker.
Luka Kovac...Beloved Husband and Father...born 1966...died 2041
"Back where he belongs."
I always thought I'd be ready for death when it came for me. I'd told myself I was for years. What did I have to stay alive for? My wife and my children were long gone and the life we had dreamed of was nothing more than a distant memory that on some days I couldn't even remember.
I'd taunted death for years. I'd put my life and the lives of others at risk because I had nothing to lose, never even thinking about the value of their lives.
I'd turned my back on my faith for all those years, holding it to blame for all I'd lost. I had no trouble justifying it, I'd begged for help to save my wife and daughter after I found them. I'd prayed and prayed that someone would find us while I struggled to keep Jasna alive, and instead my prayers were ignored. What use did I have for a God that would allow children to die as he had allowed mine to?
I'd tried to make peace with my faith. Bishop Stewart had seen my hunger for it even as I denied that it was there. He heard my confession, carried my burden to the next life with him as he passed, but it wasn't enough to free me, and if anything only made things worse.
Years later when I found myself facing death in the Congo I remember at first challenging the Mai Mai to kill me. With a gun to my head I assumed an air of arrogance without even considering what it might do to the others there. In those moments I dared them to pull the trigger and instead they walked away. I don't think I expected them to just walk away, but that's what they did, once again I had escaped death.
I wish I had learned from those moments. If I'd taken that look of fear from John, and understood it wasn't just his own life he was terrified for, maybe Patrique would still be alive, but I didn't. I knew everything, I was invincible.
When the clinic was taken by the Mai Mai that second time, I think I finally understood what John had felt that day. Knowing they were raping Sakima and there was nothing I could do, I was terrified of what they might do to Chance. She was only a little girl, and she had already endured so much. Having to watch as one by one the others were drug off and shot, knowing it was only a matter of time until it would be my turn. It wasn't easy, my thoughts were distorted from the malaria, and then to see Patrique killed as he pleaded with them to spare my life.
Then I was alone, but I wasn't alone, I remember the music so clearly, and I could almost feel her presence. I remember looking up and feeling a warmth, a comfort I hadn't felt in some time and I somehow found the strength to kneel in prayer. I hadn't prayed since that day in Vukovar, I didn't even know if I remembered how to, I couldn't even know if those words would be my last all I knew was that I needed to try. And somehow amidst all the violence and death I found a peace, and a serenity I didn't think existed.
That I'm writing this now is proof I survived, I wish I could say I also walked away with a better understanding of what I want from my life, but I didn't. I think that's something that will come in time. I no longer taunt death though, I gained that from that day, I realize what a gift it is and as hard as it is I value each day and the gifts they bring with them, if not for me, then for those who can no longer be here to enjoy them themselves.
Sunday, October 22, 2006
"Shh...Jasna," he tried to quiet the small girl, holding his daughter tightly, shielding her small body with his own. Her cries turned to shrieks of terror when bullets struck too close, and riddled the the mortar beneath the windows of their own apartment.
"Shh, Tata's got you baby." What more could he do? It was too late to leave the City, too late to do more then stay clear of the windows when the fighting was at it's worst. He lifted his head briefly to seek out his wife, though he knew even as he did that she would be little more then a mound of blankets as she shielded their young son from the same dangers.
What kind of Father was he? What kind of a life was this? All their children knew was fear and sacrifice, would they even remember how it had been before the war? What it had been like to walk outside and feel sunshine on their faces, to feel the breeze as it tugged at their hair?
How could he ever begin to make amends for doing this to them? For stealing them away from what their childhood should have been and thrusting them into the madness that only adults should have to face? How could he explain to them how he had placed his education above their own safety?
That was his greater fear wasn't it? That he would one day have to explain why he had chosen for them to stay when they'd still had a chance to leave? That he'd have to explain how he could have placed his career over the safety of his family?
"Shh, baby, Tata's got you, " But that would come later, much later, all that mattered now was getting through the night.
Muse: Luka Kovac
Friday, October 20, 2006
Characters: Luka Kovac
Word Count: 416
Warnings/Spoilers: None to speak of
Summary: Luka grows nostalgic, as he looks back on what he had with Danijela
Maybe it's because she was my first. Maybe it was because she was the one I chose to marry. Maybe it was because she was the one who would give birth to my children. Or maybe, just maybe, it was because she was taken from me before we had a chance to fully experience all that life had promised to give us.
I knew from the moment I first laid eyes on Danijela that she would be the woman I would marry. You hear about that in films, you read about it in books, but you don't believe it can really happen to you, but it did.
She was 16 when we met, and I was all of 18, we were young, and it wasn't long before we were sharing our plans for marriage and dreams of the lifetime we would spend together. We waited two years to marry, two years to consummate our relationship. We were both virgins and maybe too that made it all the more special, knowing that what we shared between us was something that we'd never given another.
Lying with her that first night I couldn't imagine anyone more beautiful, or anywhere I'd rather be, and if I could have frozen time to that instant I think I might have just to preserve the feelings it stirred within me. She was my angel and I felt blessed with every moment we had together.
Nine months after our marriage we welcomed our first child, and it was as if we had been given a miniature version of Danijela, for Jasna was just that. She had her mother's eyes, her mother's smile, and in time many other traits would reveal themselves in her. But if Jasna was her mother, then Marko was was all the best parts of me, our son was born three and a half years later and it was only with the birth of her children that Danijela fully blossomed. I had always heard stories of women who were born to be mothers, and now I knew one and she loved being one so much.
But fate is cruel and for all of it's gifts it is also a thief and so it chose to steal all it had given us. On one fateful day I lost it all, I lost them all, Danijela, Jasna, Marko, my wife, my children, my marriage, my love, my angels, my life.
Sunday, October 15, 2006
Those who know mean shouldn't need to ask? I've recently become the father of a new son, something I'd thought would never happen again. Fifteen years ago I lost my wife and two young children when a bomb destroyed our apartment building, I was sure my life was over and I'd never again experience what I'd felt with them. I was wrong. Josip's birth has proved that but, it's not been without it's own worries.
Josip, "Joe," was born almost ten weeks premature, he spent several weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit following his delivery by cesarian and underwent emergency surgery himself before he was a month old. He's home now, but, not a night goes by that I don't find myself standing by his bedside watching him, counting his heartbeats by the rise and fall of his chest as he sleeps. I can't help myself, as a doctor I know the dangers he may still face.
Part of me wants to have with him what I had with my first two children, but I know that's impossible. Danijela and I were young, we were surrounded by family and friends, and we had our whole lives in front of us. We lived for our children and for each other. I loved every moment of being a father, even when it meant sleep was in short supply due to their schedule or my own. When I lost them, when I lost that, I lost so much of who I was, that for the longest time I didn't even recognize myself.
Things are different now, but, still I find my past leaves my thoughts clouded with fears for Joe that I know I shouldn't have. I worry that I might lose him as I lost my first two children. Even as the thought finds it's way into my head I hate it because I know that I'm only giving it more strength. I 'm afraid that my fears for Joe will cloud my relationship with him, that I'll be over protective and prevent him from fully experiencing life. I don't want that for him, I don't want that for us.
I'm trying to work through my fears, standing watch over him as he sleeps, feeding him, or simply holding him. I tell myself that what happened then was another time, and another place, something that no one could have anticipated, but, the tinge of irrational fear lingers, if it happened once...
As I sit in the darkness and feed Joe, or just hold him, I know that in time I'll be able to let go of these fears, but for now I need to do this, for me, for him and maybe just a littlebit for those who are no longer here.
Muse: Luka Kovac
Fandom: ER/Miscellaneous TV
"Umhm..." The mumbled reply brought a smile to her lips before she moved closer, curling her body into his.
"Lu...ka." She stretched out his name as she whispered it, then brushed her lips along the skin below his ear before nipping lightly at his earlobe. Feeling a bit bolder she inched her hand around his waist, capturing him beneath the thin fabric of his pajama bottoms.
"Danijela." Her name followed his gasp of surprise at her conquest and an increase in his breathing came as her fingers wrapped around him. "The children..."
"Are both sound asleep, now...shh." Her smile came naturally as she felt him rise to her touch. As she slipped her hand beneath the fabric and began a slow, tender stroking of him any other protests he might have had were lost, in these moments they existed only for each other.
Sunday, October 8, 2006
She was sixteen the first time I saw her, with long dark hair that fell in waves around her shoulders and dark eyes that sparkled like none I had ever seen before. It was in a coffeeshop, a place I'd never gone before and only chanced into on that day at that time. I knew she was young, she was with three or four others of around the same age and all of them were dressed in school uniforms of matching skirts, white blouses, and dark sweaters. It took me almost two weeks to work up the nerve to talk to her, but every day up to then I would go, just to watch her and try and work up the nerve to speak to her. I finally arranged to pay for her order before she got there, thinking then she would come talk to me if only to thank me.
We dated for two years, and each day it seemed our love for each other only grew deeper so that when she turned eighteen it only made sense that we would marry. Within the year we would welcome our first child, a daughter, and less than two years later our second, a son. Danijela and I were sure our life was that of which dreams were made, we spoke often of raising our children, of growing old together, of our plans for the future. We never dreamed that before our son reached his second birthday it would all end, but it did, and all that's left to me now are memories.
Friday, October 6, 2006
For three days he had felt like he was sleepwalking, going through the motions without really seeing or hearing anything around him. He was lost, and nothing anyone could say was going to change that. He had buried not just his wife, not just his daughter and his son, he had buried his life as well. He'd barely heard the words of condolence offered by those at the hospital. Neither his family nor Danijela's could risk the journey to Vukovar for the funerals, and he'd refused to have those from the hospital accompany him to the grave-site. The truth was he didn't want to share his grief with anyone. So now, with the funerals over, he was back to haunt the place where it had all begun. Standing on the sidewalk in front of the rubble that had once been their apartment building he found himself once more praying for some lone sniper to center him in their sights, to put an end to the pain that was tearing him apart. How many more days would he do this? What did he hope to gain from it? The questions were ones he couldn't answer and might never be able to, but here he was. Only when it became too dark to see did he finally force himself to turn away, knowing as he did that he'd return again at first light.
Characters: Luka Kovac
Word Count: 770
Warnings/Spoilers: Contains Spoilers Bloodlines/Graduation Day
Summary: An overnight vigil in the NICU gives Luka time to rethink his life.
I deal with the frailty of life on a daily basis but it wasn't until the birth of my new son that I fully realized how overwhelming it can be to those on the outside. My son, our son, Josip, Joe, was born ten weeks premature, Abby delivered him by cesarean, and for the first twenty-four hours of his life I stood vigil alone at his bedside. He was rushed immediately from the delivery room to the NICU, the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, and though I wanted to stay at Abby's side she insisted I stay with our son, without voicing it I think she sensed how fragile he was and feared he might die alone if I remained. It was a fear I shared, but dared not say aloud, maybe because I thought that by doing so it would somehow give it more strength and the thought of losing him, losing yet another child.
Watching over Joe gave me lots of time to think, and one thing that kept repeatedly coming back to me was why was I again being punished? It's been fifteen years since I lost Danijela and our children, fifteen years...a lifetime it seems at times. I kept thinking back on all the years I'd wasted grieving their loss, wallowing in self pity and guilt, worse though was remembering how often I'd prayed for death to find it's way to me so I could be with them.
It wasn't easy to let my past go, I spent close to eight years living with the memories of Danijela and our time together as my means of comfort, my source of love. When I opened the door enough to allow Carol in it was a big step and I know I made mistakes, but at least I was starting to live again. I think I saw my heart as a piece of glass then, something very fragile. It had been shattered when Danijela and our children died, then somehow repaired. I think I tried too hard with Carol, I wanted a family so badly that I wasn't able to see that it wasn't her along that drew me to them, it was the very fact that she was alone with those two children and they needed a father as badly as I needed to be one again. When she told me she was leaving I honestly believed I had lost my last hope of being a father again.
It was hard looking back at the mistakes I made with Abby our first time around, but I think Iit was something I had to do if I want to make sure that those mistakes aren't repeated between us this time. One of the things Abby accused me of at that time was being married to a ghost, and though I didn't want to admit it then I can now. Danijela will always be part of who I am, I'll always love her, and I can only hope that Abby will understand that it doesn't mean I love her any less.
Within that same fragile balance will be the one that will exist between Joe and Jasna and Marko. I want Joe to know his big sister and brother even though they aren't here. I want to share my memories of them with him as he grows in a way that will bring happy feelings and not ones of sadness. I think that in itself may be something I'll have to work on with Abby. When we were together before I never felt I could talk about Danijela or my children with her, or maybe it was that I didn't want to share them with her. I realize now that it's something I need to do if I want her to really understand me and how I reached the place where I am in my life. The years I spent with Danijela were ones that played a huge part in shaping me into the man I am today, but more importantly the father I'll be to Joe.
I see things with Abby, and now with Joe as an open door to the second chances I never dreamed I'd see, not just that of husband and father,but of having a family around me again. It's hard though ,to express the joy this brings me, especially when I realize that it comes marred by the sadness of knowing that Abby will be unable to bear another child. So, with this thought I come full circle to the frailty of life and the cycle begins again.
Sunday, October 1, 2006
Character/Pairing: Luka and Josip "Joe" Kovac
Prompt: O4. General:Prayer
Word Count: 394
Warnings/Spoilers: Spoilers to Season 13/Bloodlines
Summary:Luka asks some special angels to watch over Baby Joe.
Disclaimer: Neither Goran Visnjic's image nor the character of Luka Kovac of ER belong to me. No copy-write infringement is intended by their use, they are being borrowed here strictly for entertainment purposes.
It was quiet in the NICU, well not exactly quiet, but quieter than it was during the daytime, or during the regular visiting hours in the hospital. Now though it was relatively empty, at close to 3 in the morning most of the parents had gone home long ago, or found places to sleep, but not him, not tonight.
As he stood over his newborn son Luka couldn't stop the fear that lurked inside him. What if he were asked to give this son up as he had been asked to give up his first son and daughter? The thought was one he didn't want to think about but still it returned.
Laying his hands face down on the incubator he closed his eyes, he knew what he had to do, despite his doubts he had to take the chance, not for himself, not even for Abby, but for Joe.
He whispered the prayer quietly, the words ones that had brought comfort to him as a child. Ones he had turned from when his family had been lost. Ones he had found his way back to as he thought his own life about to end. As he finished he caressed the case as he would have the small boy's skin.
"Joe...my little boy...you have to fight, for mama, for me." He brought his hand to his lips, afraid that if he lost the hold he had on his emotions he might not get it back.
"You have your own angels Joe, did you know that?" He sniffed back the tears before they could start.
"Your big sister, Jasna, your brother Marko, they'll always be with you, watching over you, making sure you're safe. Can you see them?" A smile tugged at his lips as the image of just that appeared to him.
"They'll always be there for you baby, all you have to do is look for them, you'll never be alone, not even when tata and mama are somewhere else." He swiped his hand over his face as the tears finally broke.
"You have another angel Joe, a beautiful angel who will love you as much as we do, her name is Danijela. She'll hold you, and sing to you, and keep you safe from harm. You never have to be afraid, Joe, so sleep, and get strong, and we'll take care of the rest.
Characters: Luka Kovac
Word Count: 467
Warnings/Spoilers: Deals with material of a sensitive nature.
Summary: Luka flees the hospital in Vukovar only moments before Serbian soldiers arrive
We never believed that it would happen to us. That they would target patients in a hospital and those who would treat them, but that's exactly what happened that day, that November afternoon in Vukovar. I didn't want to go, to run away while others stayed behind, placing themselves in danger to save the lives of those too weak or too badly injured to leave. But, I'd made a promise, some of us had to live, if only so we could speak for those who would never be able to.
So I fled, down crowded hallways and stairwells. Even as I heard the gunshots and screams of those whose lives were being lost I wanted to believe that it wasn't happening, that no one could harbor that kind of hatred, or be that cruel. I knew the truth though even as I tried to deny it, I'd seen it for months on the faces of those I had treated in the very hospital that I was now running from.
Once I entered the street I realized that for as long as the soldiers remained the only safety would be in finding a place to hide from them. If I could stay hidden until dark I could then try and make my escape from the City. I had no idea where I would go once I was outside it's walls, but I knew it had to be better than this.
Then I heard them, the sounds of soldiers coming my way and all I could think of was finding somewhere to hide before I ended up like those in the hospital. In the end I found my safety in an abandoned building, hidden beneath broken wall-boards and fallen timbers in a shallow of dirt barely large enough for someone half my size. When one of their trucks stopped in the street outside the building I'd chosen to hide in I was terrified.
When several soldiers entered the building I was sure I'd been found, afraid to breathe for fear they would hear me. I lost track of how long they were there. As I was laying in the darkness, I listened to the the sound of glass broken under foot, felt the dirt rain down on me as someone walked over the very boards that sheltered me. I lost track of how long they were there, laughing over the misery of others, sharing jokes and cigarettes while those I knew as friends were losing their lives.
And then, after what seemed like hours, but might have been minutes, they were gone, but still I dared not move, and so I stayed hidden. Three, four, five hours more, until I was sure they were gone, until I was sure that dark had fully covered the City, only then did I dare reveal myself, only then could I chance my escape.
Character/Pairing: Luka and Baby Joe Kovac
Prompt: 005. Son
Word Count: 312
Warnings/Spoilers: Bloodlines/Graduation Day spoilers
Summary: Luka spends time alone with his newborn son.
Disclaimer:Neither Goran Visnjic's image nor the character of Luka Kovac of ER belong to me. No copy-write infringement is intended by their use, they are being borrowed here strictly for entertainment purposes
"Joe, you came a little early, but we're glad you're here." Translation of what Luka said to Joe in Croatian in Graduation Day
It hadn't taken much convincing on Luka's part for him to take over Joe's 2am feedings, it seemed only reasonable to allow Abby the extra time to sleep, and he welcomed the time alone with his son. As the baby began to cry Luka reached over to touch Abby's shoulder.
"I've got him." He leaned down to kiss her, only to smile as she barely stirred. It was funny how often he was finding memories of Danijela surfacing with Joe's arrival. He'd yet told Abby about them of course, he wasn't sure how she would take being compared to the woman she'd once referred to as his ghost. Pushing the bedding aside he slipped from the bed and went to the crib where their son lay crying.
"Are you hungry?" He scooped his son into his arms, then lay him over his shoulder, rubbing his hand in slow circles over the boy's back as he carried him down to the kitchen to prepare his bottle.
He had missed too many moments like this with Jasna and Marko, medical school, the long hours of internships and residencies, he wasn't letting them slip by him again. As the microwave sounded he opened the door and pulled the bottle out, testing the temperature of the milk against the inside of his wrist before offering it to the baby. Luka couldn't help smiling as he greedily took it.
"Not so fast, you were hungry, weren't you?" Taking a seat on the couch he repositioned his son more comfortably in the cook of his arm, as he continued to feed him. "Not so bad having tata feed you is it?" The conversation was the start of many he knew he would have with the small boy, and he slipped into Croatian as he spoke to him. "I'll always be here for you, Joe, I'll always be here."</