I was raised Catholic as was my first wife, faith played a large part in our lives and in the lives of our families, and I don't think either one of us ever had a reason to doubt that the same would be true in the lives of our children. If someone had told me that I would one day turn my back on the church and question that very faith I would have thought them insane. But then I could not know there would come a day when I would put my faith to the greatest of tests only to see my prayers go unanswered in the rubble of what had been, our Vukovar apartment.
No one plans for war. I know we certainly didn't. We were so young, we had two small children, we thought we had our entire lives to look forward to. I don't think any of us realized how quickly things could change. We talked about what we should do, I was just starting my residency and Danijela refused to take the children and leave the City without me, then, by the time we realized how bad it was going to get it was too late.
As much as I never want to relive those final hours I had with my family, they are at the same time scenes that can unexpectedly replay when I least expect them to. Of all of them, I think my first glimpse of my baby boy were the most difficult, if only because it was clear on seeing him pinned beneath his crib, that he was already gone. I pray none of you never have to know that pain, or the worse one of leaving your child that way as you tend to those still alive.
Yes, despite the death and destruction around us, my wife and daughter were still alive, and it was for them that I offered my prayers as I struggled to keep them that way. For hours I put the skills I had been trained in to use, breathing for my daughter as I did CPR on her, while somehow finding the strength to reassure my injured wife, and call for help. Hour after hour I prayed for someone to come, I prayed for the strength to keep going when I felt my stamina fading, and in the end I simply prayed for him to allow them to live. He ignored me, or so I thought, and in the end first my wife, then my daughter joined my son in death. In my mind, my God and my faith in him would be buried with with my family, for the first time in my life, I truly felt alone.