I became a doctor to help people, I do it every day, so, why is it when it comes to those close to me that I seem to be unable to do anything but watch them suffer or even worse, to watch them die? Is there some lesson that I'm supposed to be learning from the challenges that those around me seem to be continuously subjected to?
As difficult as it has been to release myself from the guilt I've felt at failing Danijela and Jasna, I had begun to do just that. There were so many factors that went against me during that long night while I fought to keep breathing for my daughter. Factors that I had no control over despite what I might have thought at the time. There was a war going on, I was young, I was inexperienced, I had nothing I needed to give them the care they deserved, how could I possibly blame myself? But I did, still do in some ways, just not as much as once was the case.
I think back on Joe's birth and the helplessness I felt standing first at Abby's side and then later, watching over him in the NICU. So often over those early days and weeks I found myself wondering what had been the point of all my medical training if there wasn't anything I could do to help him. If I could have traded my life for his, spared him any measure of the pain his tiny body was subjected to, I would have done so in an instant, but, yet again it was out of my control. All I could do was watch over him a pray that those entrusted with his care were the best they could be.
I don't think I was ready to hear that my father was sick, I know I wasn't ready to hear he had cancer, I was so sure we would have more time. When I first went back to Croatia, I spoke to his doctors, and while it was clear that I couldn't take part in his actual care, at least I knew he was getting the best treatment money could afford. I had to believe I was doing everything possible for him in order to free myself of the guilt I knew I would hold over myself if I thought I didn't. When the doctors told Niko and I that he was doing better we believed them, and I thought it was safe to come home to Abby and Joe, to let them meet my brother and I was so certain when we returned they would both be with us. How could I be so wrong?
My father died last night, and tonight Niko, Joe, and I are on a plane back to Croatia without Abby, it shouldn't be like this, but yet again, things are beyond my control. Abby told me tonight that she'd started drinking again, I want to blame myself, if I hadn't left her alone, if I had been there when Joe had fallen, I would have seen the signs, but, the blame can't be all mine to take. Abby took responsibility for her own actions tonight, so, while Joe and I go back to Croatia with Niko to bury our father, Joe's grandfather, Abby is checking herself into rehab. These next several weeks will be a time of healing for all of us, and I can only hope that when the time comes for us to unite we will find ourselves stronger for the work we have done.