My life was changing. Truth be told, it had been changing constantly since that day I entered our apartment in Vukovar and found Marko dead, since I had watched my wife and daughter die. For almost five years I had told myself that my life was over, but it wasn't, it was just a lie I kept telling myself because the reality of what my life had become was too hard to face.
For almost five years I had looked for ways to deny what my life had become. At first, it had been easy, the grief of my losses was so deep that it ate away at me until nothing mattered to me. While the bombing had taken my family and our home, I sacrificed far more, deserting friends, even family who could have supported me had I let them. When I fled Vukovar I found refuge in the anonymity of the displaced person's camp, escaping into silence as a means for coping with what my life had become.
That was then, and now, the truth is something I can no longer deny, if I was to start thinking about moving on with any kind of a life I had to leave Croatia. As long as there were so many memories of Danijela and the children around, nothing would change. The decision was not one being met with with full support even within my own family, and while I doubt Niko would ever understand why I had to do this, I knew I had no choice.
As the time neared for me to leave for the airport, there was one final thing that had to be done, as hard as it would be to do, I had to sever that final tie to Danijela, the connection to the life that was no more. The day the Priest placed our rings on our fingers we knew they were there until death parted us. In my mind, that statement meant I would wear her ring until my death, but, here I was, alone, and as hard as it was, I knew I had to let her go, and that meant saying good-bye to my ring.
That day I walked out of my father's house to embark on my new life, I didn't just leave my wedding band behind in my father's house that day, I left my final tie to the woman who had won my heart and the life we had built together. I left the life that was no more.