I'm finally home again. How do I even begin to describe what it feels like after being gone for so long? For too long. Seeing Abby at the hospital, you would have thought we had been separated for years instead of only a few months.
A few months, I say that as if it is nothing, but in Joe's life it may has well have been a lifetime for how much he has grown. As I sat with my brother Niko tonight and looked through the album of photographs of him taken since I've been gone, I realized how very much I had missed.
Now though, in the darkness of the too quiet apartment, when everyone else has long ago retired to their beds, and sleep eludes me, I find those same photographs coming back to haunt me. I know it's not really the pictures of Abby with Joe that are the problem, and without even realizing I've done it, I find the small black and white of Danijela and Jasna joining the album on the table.
It's so unfair. I have so many reminders of Abby and Joe, and when it comes to those I've lost, I have one single photograph. Even now as I pick it up I can't help but notice how badly the years have treated it, from the frayed edges, to it's dog-eared corners, I know each one far too well, for it's all I have of them to hold onto.
I try to call up memories of Danijela and the children, hoping that they might somehow fill the sense of emptiness that I'm feeling, but, more and more, all that comes to me are the moments of their deaths. Why can't I remember the happy times?
I find myself wishing I had the power to go back in time, if I could somehow capture forever the moments that meant so much. The first time Danijela and I kissed, the moment I asked her to be my wife, the first time I saw her in her wedding dress, and the moment she said "I Do." There are so many other times, and I flip through this album in my mind, only to find it's pages blank...Jasna's birth, her first smile, her first words, her first steps, and then the arrival of our son, Marko, my sweet, sweet Marko. It's so much harder with him because he was with us for such a short time.
I look at Joe now and I can't help but see Marko in him and I find myself wishing I had just one photograph to lay beside one of Joe's. One small picture, so that one day I might say, this is your big brother, he would have lovedyou so much. I can still remember how Jasna was with Marko, and I know she would have doted on Joe too.
One day I'll show him her picture, and I'll tell him that.