I used to think about death a lot, after losing Danijela and our children, I taunted it, I threw caution to the wind, challenging it to take me as it had taken them. I would listen for the sound of the mortars, beg them to target me, to bury me under rubble like they had my baby boy. At other times I was sure I wanted to suffer a long, lingering death as my wife and daughter had. That same guilt that I carried for not being able to save them had me convinced that I deserved a pain as great as that which they'd suffered if not worse.
Times change though, we grow older and wiser and we see things in ways that we can't when we're too close to be objective. I look back at all that I've been through, the lives that I've touched, that I've saved. I think of Sakima and her daughter Chance, who put my safety above their own, of Patrique who gave his life to save mine, and I know that I owe it to them, and to those who I lost before him, to live my life now to the fullest. I think of Joe, and I realize how much Abby and I have to look forward to as he grows, and I think of the life the three of us will share together.
So, if I had to choose my manner of death now, I really only have one choice, and that is to ask to die of old age. I can think of no better way to honor the sacrifices of those who have passed before me, or to repay the gifts given me by those still here, than to remain on this earth as long as I can. What better reward can I offer those who have given me so much than to give of myself for as long as I'm able? Through it all, I cling to the hope that when my time does come, the good I have done will out-weigh the bad and as I enter the gates of Heaven, I'll once more be reunited with the family I lost so long ago.