Name three things that you're looking forward to in the near future and why.
As I look back over this last year, there is no denying that Abby and I both made our share of mistakes. I'm not sure that either of us saw what we were doing at the time it was happening, and as easy as it would be to use that as an excuse, I'm not saying it for that reason. I don't think there is any doubt in Abby's or my mind that we want to fix the parts of our marriage that are broken, and regardless of the difficulties we've had, the love we feel for each other remained. I think it's that which is allowing us now to take this next step, the step we know will restore what the last year has stolen from us, but, more importantly allow us to finally look to the future.
If I were to pick the three most important things I was looking forward to, I would have to start with both Abby and I being able to share in Joe's growth. One of the most difficult things for me in his last year has been being separated from he and Abby, and I know she feels the same, having experienced a similar separation when I took him to Croatia with me. I think about the six months of time I lost with Joe, how I left this little baby when I went to take care of my father, and I returned to find this little person. I wasn't there for his first step, and I don't want to miss anymore times like that. I didn't have a choice about being able to share in Jasna and Marko's lives, they were stolen from us before they had even had a chance to start living them. Even before that though, they were denied so many things because of the restrictions placed on them by the war. I never want Joe to know that kind of hardship, that kind of suffering, and I'll do anything I have to, to prevent that happening.
The next thing I'm looking forward to is starting over. Abby and I both have realized that we've done things that we shouldn't have done, and as long as we remain in Chicago, those reminders will always be hanging over us. Nothing we have here is worth our marriage, our friends, our jobs, our home, all those can be replaced and so, we've decided it's time to move away from Chicago. Of course, my first thought was to take Abby and Joe back to Croatia, but I know that wouldn't be fair to them since the point of moving is to start fresh, and I can't do that among the reminders of Danijela and my father. No, the place we choose will be new to both Abby and I, allowing us to start with clean slates and enabling us to work on strengthening the bond between us.
If I had to pick a third thing I was looking forward to after reconnecting with my wife and son, it would be doing the same with my brother, Niko. When I originally came to the United States, he had accused me of running away from my life. It was not long after the War, I had lost my wife, my 5 year old daughter, and my 18 month old son during the siege of Vukovar, and while I myself had survived, the emotional toll on me was devastating. I had barely escaped the City with my life when it fell, and only learned later that many of those at the hospital I had worked at were killed in a massacre. But,I was one of the lucky ones, I escaped, and I'd spent several months in a displaced person's camp before finally returning to my father's home to recover. I couldn't stay there though, there were too many memories, too much pain, too much grief, and through it all, my brother's anger at me because I was running away. It took our father's illness for us to heal the wounds that had festered between us for over 15 years, and now that he has died, I don't want to lose my brother again. I want Niko to be part of my family, more importantly, I want Abby and Joe to know the big brother I grew up with. I love Niko, and I don't know that I realized how much I missed him until I was back with him again. I'm so glad my father was able to see that we had reconciled before he died. I know it was something that meant a lot to him, and I know I would never have forgiven myself if I'd thought we had denied him that final wish.