“I want to die while you love me, While yet you hold me fair, While laughter lies upon my lips, And lights are in my hair.” - Georgia Douglas Johnson
There are times when I almost forget where I am. I awake in my father's house to smells and sounds that I remember from so long ago, and in that still cloudy consciousness of half-sleep, I can almost make myself believe that Danijela is in the next room. That our children lie safe in their beds, and at any minute they'll wake from their night's sleep. In those moments I find myself listening for the sounds of their laughter, or the calls for Mama and Tata, that announce their readiness to start the new day. If my sleep holds me a little deeper, I can imagine my arms still hold my wife as she sleeps curled against me, I can smell the scent of her shampoo as my cheek rests against her hair, and the faint residue of perfume she must have dabbed behind her ears at one point during the day.
As my drowsiness leaves me and I leave that realm of sleep, I can't help but remember where I am and I'm left alone with only the sadness and sense of loss such remembrances carry with them. How can I not remember that Danijela and those babies, our babies have been gone so long now that had they lived they likely would have been parents themselves? It seems so hard to believe that so many years have passed, and I can't help but realize that the time we had together was no more than a breath when compared to what might have been.
It's times like these that I can't help but feel grateful, for despite all the hardships we faced, we never doubted the love that existed between us. From the moment we met we knew our lives were meant to be spent as one, we just didn't know that time would be so short, and I wonder if we had if it might have changed how we lived it. For all the times I have wished that I had died with Danijela and our children, I would never have wished to change places with any of them and as difficult as it has been to live my life without them, I would never have wished for one of them to face a life alone the way I have had to do.
I hear laughter now, and from the other room comes the call for Tata, and as much as I miss those I have lost, I've finally allowed myself to move on. After all these years, I've found another to open my heart to, another I've committed my life to, and together we have a son. I have to believe Danijela would understand because I've finally found someone who makes me feel the way I felt with her. I've once again found someone who makes me feel complete, someone I want to spend the rest of my life with, and I finally know what it feels like to be happy again.