Thursday, July 31, 2008

Prompt 24.2: Are you happy with your current relationship?


Happy is not exactly the word I would choose to describe what I'm feeling with how things are with our relationship right now. Abby and I are working through a difficult time.  We've both made mistakes, we've made some choices that, knowing what we know now, likely wouldn't have made, but, most importantly, we're trying to repair the damage. Knowing that, if I had to choose one word to describe how I feel, disappointed would probably be the one.

When Abby and I got married, we were happy. We had a healthy son, and despite the worries we might have had during those first weeks of his life, we believed he had conquered all the obstacles that had been placed before him. I know that neither of us expected what came next, and maybe if there'd been some warning I might have reacted differently. There wasn't any warning though, only the call saying my father was seriously ill and without thinking my response to go to him was made.

Neither of us expected for me to be in Croatia as long as I was, and we certainly didn't expect to find out that my father's illness was far more serious than what the phone call had led us to believe. There had been no discussion about my going, it had been years since I'd seen him, I couldn't risk not going, but Joe still didn't have a passport, he and Abby had no choice but to stay home. In the beginning we thought I might be there a couple of weeks, but, then I learned it was cancer, I couldn't convince him to return to the States, and I couldn't just walk away.

I can't describe how difficult those months away from Abby and Joe were for me, and I can only guess about how bad they were for Abby. My time was spent taking care of my father between stays in the hospital, re-fitting his house to accommodate the wheelchair when he could no longer walk, and lastly, reconciling with my brother. The phone-calls from Abby were difficult, and far too many ended in fights that I know now were fueled by my wife's return to drinking.

I have to wonder if my father didn't realize that his death was imminent, even if he never discussed it with Niko or I. About six months into his treatment there came a time when our father's condition seemed to improve, and despite my protests he convinced me to leave his side and return to Chicago. I should have known better, but, his condition was stable, there were people I trusted able to look after him, and I missed Joe and Abby. I would have given anything to have been able to take him back with me. To give my father the chance to meet Abby and Joe?  But, it would have been too much of a drain on him, and instead he convinced me to take Niko in his place. As I look back on his good-byes to us before we left for the airport, I can see now that he was saying his final good-byes, I just didn't see it then. Within a couple days of our arrival in Chicago, we received the phone-call notifying us of his passing.

In those days prior to the call, there was such a mix of feelings running through me.  I was thrilled at being home again, seeing how much Joe had grown, and reconnecting with both him and Abby.  As happy as I was though, I sensed something was wrong, Abby almost seemed to be avoiding me, and her reaction to my bringing Niko back was nothing like what I expected.  It wasn't until we knew I'd have to return to Croatia to bury my father that Abby told me that she'd started drinking again. Something had to be done, this wasn't only about her now, she'd put our son's life in danger. This was not going to be easy for us, and while I could understand that she might have felt overwhelmed by all that had happened while I was gone, I would never understand her doing anything that might have hurt Joe.  There was no question of her going into Rehab, and while she was there, Joe would go back to Croatia with Niko and I to bury our father.  I wish I could say that was the end of things, but it wasn't, and it was only when Abby joined us in Croatia that I learned how much worse things could get.

So, that's where we are now.  We've decided that we're not ready to give up on what we have between us, we love each other, we have a son together, and we both believe our marriage is worth saving.  In order to do that we know we need to make some changes and part of that will come when we leave Chicago.  The decision to leave everything and everyone we know was not an easy one, but, to save what we have we know it needs to be done.  So, while I'm not happy with where my relationship is at right now, I have hope for us, and I believe in time, we'll be all right.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

July Prompt 003: Fireworks Photograph/Artistic License

selected userpic

How is it, that I can see fireworks one way when by myself, yet see them as something completely different when I share them with my young son? This was the first year that Abby and I decided to take Joe to a public fireworks display, and I know I had my doubts at first over whether he was old enough to enjoy them that way. I thought about how many people would be there, about the weather, and more then anything else, there was the noise, and I really did agonize over whether it might be too much for him.

Even as I told myself I was worrying about how Joe would react to the fireworks. I knew deep down that my worries had nothing to do with Joe or the fireworks, but were instead tied to memories of something that happened a lifetime and a world away. How many nights did Danijela and I find ourselves sitting on the floor of our Vukovar apartment, each holding a crying child as the night-sky was lit by a missile bent on death and destruction? How many nights did we try to find ways to distract Jasna and Marko from first the whistles and later the explosions as those same missiles found their targets? Yet, even as we as parents knew the danger outside the window. We couldn't deny that to those two children, those same missiles could appear as things of beauty. Even as we shielded them from what we knew would be coming, Jasna and Marko were as transfixed on the criss-cross trails that wove across the sky as if they had been fireworks.

In the end, as difficult as it was, I managed to suppress those memories, and my fears of how Joe might react. Abby and I took Joe to the firework's display and his reaction is one I'll never forget. Something else came out of this too, because I finally think I'm realizing that, as hard as it might be for me, I can't keep making decisions for Joe, based on what happened with Jasna and Marko. His life is never going to be the same as the one they lived. I can't deny him the chance to experience life to the fullest just because Jasna and Marko had theirs cut short. I'm sure we'll have our stumbles along the way, but, this was a good place for us to start, and I know it can only get better for us from here.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Prompt 22.3: Talk about something you've kept from a previous relationship./Couples Therapy

Danijela and Jasna

My first marriage has been a source of difficulty between Abby and I since we first started dating, so much so that it was part of the reason that we broke up.  I'd like to say that all of the problems that existed then were solved before we married, but, I don't think they were, and likely they never will be.

I know the hardest thing for Abby to accept about my relationship with Danijela is that no matter how much time passes, I'll always love her.  It doesn't matter how many years pass, or how many years of marriage Abby and I have between us, she'll always know that a part of my love belongs to someone else. 

I've never gone into much detail with Abby about what happened to Danijela and our children. She knows they died during the war, but, in all of the years I've been in the States, I've only told two or three people the specifics and one of those was a Priest who was hearing my confession. There was one time when I slipped, I told a story to Abby and a few others from work about Danijela. They were all talking about their first time with someone and how old they were, I tried to get out of taking part and couldn't. I saw the reactions on their faces when I finished talking about her, about us, some of them couldn't even look at me, it was like they didn't know what to say. Even after I tried to reassure them that it was a good memory it didn't matter. After that, I didn't talk about them to anyone, even though there have been times that I wanted to.

When I lost my family, I lost everything everything except a small black and white photograph of Danijela and our daughter Jasna. For close to 17 years that picture has been my connection to the life that I thought, that we thought would last for the rest of our lives.  I carry the photograph in my wallet, and even after all these years I still find myself pulling it out once or twice a day, if for no other reason then to tell them I still love them.  If I have any regrets, it's that I can't do the same for my baby boy, because, I never found any photos of Marko.  To see him, I have to rely on my memory, and I dread the day that it fails me. Worse though is that I'll never be able to show Joe what his big brother looked like, and I hate that.

So, as hard as it might be for Abby toknow I still hold onto the photograph of Danijela, as hard as it may be for her to know that she'll always be sharing me with those no longer here, she knows I love her. Whatever problems we have, we can get through them, I know we can.  We may have our rough patches, but, this time I know it's forever.


Friday, July 18, 2008

Prompt 240: Discuss an individual who has scared you/ Theatrical Muse

Hey Joe

I thought I was beyond being scared, I'd lived through a war, and all that came with it. Years later I found myself kidnapped by the Mai Mai in the Congo, forced to watch as one by one those around me lost their lives while mine was repeatedly spared. I was taken hostage at gunpoint by a crazed patient after he had terrorized my wife and young son.  For hours I endured physical and emotional abuse at his hands, with the threat of death a constant thought until that moment when he took his own life instead of mine. 

Of all of those instances and the people involved however, I can honestly say that none scared me worse then my own infant son, and I know, it's not the same type of a fear, but it's fear nonetheless. I look back now on those first months of his life, all those days that I watched him struggle to do nothing more than breathe.  I don't know that I have ever known a fear as great as what I experienced during that time, but, it was more then just fear, it was the helplessness.  I'm a doctor, I'm supposed to save lives, and all I could do was stand there and pray that those into whose hands I had entrusted his care could keep him alive.

I remember standing there in the NICU, listening to the sound of the vents, and all of the other noises in that small room that come together to create a symphony of life and hope. I remember wishing I could do something for him as he lay there, swallowed up by all of the tubes and wires. I remember thinking how tiny he looked laying there, how he didn't deserve to go through all he was going through, and as much as I wanted him to live, I didn't want him to be in pain. I remember thinking about how hard I had fought to save Jasna's life only to fail, and here I was doing nothing for Joe, and I very likely was going to lose him as well.  Then I remember hating myself for allowing doubts of his survival to even enter my thoughts. 

In the end though all I really could do was pray.  I begged God to let me keep my little boy, after all, I'd already given him two children, wasn't that enough? I don't think I've ever been as scared of anyone or anything as I was in those early weeks of Joe's life.  Making it through his surgery, and then watching him grow strong enough to one by one lose the various tubes andwires that had been his lifelines in those early weeks. It took longer for the fear to leave, and I hope I never again have to experience anything like it.

We were lucky, Joe is a happy, active, normal two year old now, and I thank God for every day I have with him.  I know too, that as lucky as we were, many other parents were not. Not a day goes by now that I don't look at him and count our blessings, he truly is our gift from God. 


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Prompt 8.1: How do you resolve issues?/ On The Couch

Skyes 3

I wish I could say that I always approach problems with a rational mind and a cool head, or that I'm willing to sit down and talk about things that are bothering me, unfortunately I don't, and I'm not.

I hate to admit to having a violent temper but, the truth is, under certain circumstances I can't deny it. There are only a few things that really set me off, and on one occasion I became so out of control that I killed a man with my bare hands.  I suppose I should clarify that by saying that the man was a mugger and he had struck me with a pipe first, and when I came to he was attacking my wife, though she wasn't my wife at the time.  I lost it. There's no other way to put it, I remember pulling him off her, then I struck him, once he was on the ground I repeatedly slammed his head into the pavement until Abby stopped me.  He was still alive when the ambulance arrived, but, the damage was done, his skull had been shattered, and he died in the ER.  The police told me that I was justified in my actions and I was acting in self defense so no charges were filed, but, I still can't forgive myself. Each time I've found myself lashing out at someone it's because I've felt that they've threatened my family or friends.  I've never talked to anyone about this, but, I'm sure it has something to do with the helplessness I felt when I lost my family and my need now to protect those close to me.

I'm not really sure why I don't talk about the problems in my life, I do know that my silence is one of the things that ended the relationship I had with Sam.  I guess I've always felt it was easier to just go along with whatever my partner said, and then later I used my silence as a way of not talking about my past.  I don't know, I think I just decided that in most cases I didn't really see a reason to fight over things and by remaining silent I could avoid doing that.

Now that Joe is here I realize that I have to change how I deal with things, he's going to see what I do and one day he may well follow in my footsteps.  This isn't going to be easy for me, I've had close to 40 years to become the way I am, but, for my son I have to change.  I want him to be able to talk about his feelings, but more importantly, I never want him to know what it's like to take someone's life because he's lost control.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Prompt 45.6: Promise and Condemn/Writers Muses

He should have sensed something was wrong sooner, should have heard it in her voice during the phone calls when they had been separated the first time.  This was supposed to be their chance to strengthen things between them, a chance for him to show her the world he had come from. Instead he was left wondering if he even had a marriage to strengthen, and of all the things that might have happened, he had never expected anything like this.  Sure, he could have missed the signs of her drinking, how hard would it have been for her to conceal the effects during their phonecalls? Or even regulate when and how much she was drinking so that it didn't interfere with the calls at all.  Yes, he had the excuse that he had been distracted during most of their conversations.  As much as he missed her and Joe, it still didn't change the reason for his being there.  His father was ill, as far as he knew she and Joe were perfectly healthy except for Joe's fall, he had every right to be more concerned about what was happening with his father. Never in a million years would he have thought Abby capable of anything worse then that, but, she was, and she had. Even as he scooped Joe up, Luka knew he should stay and talk to Abby, but, the stronger urge was to put as much distance between him and her as he could, and it was that one which prevailed. 

As he buckled Joe into his carseat, he could hear the sound of Niko's voice as his brother tried to console Abby in the house. He'd be lying to himself, and to her if he wasn't affected by what this was doing to them. This wasn't him falling back into old habits despite what Niko had said, he wasn't running away again, he just needed time to think, and the only way he could do that was if he put space between them.

"Ready to go for a ride, Joe?" With his son settled, Luka walked around the car and climbed behind the wheel.

What had happened to the promises they had made to each other? The question was one of the last he had asked of Abby before he had walked out the door, and one which she had in turn thrown back at him.   After all they had been through, after all the times she had run to her own mother or brother's side when they needed her.  Who was she tocondemn him for choosing to be at his father's side during what proved to be some of the final month's of his life? But, what if she was right? Was there guilt that was rightfully his to claim in all this? Then again, even if he accepted part of the blame as his, was it enough to have led her not just to begin drinking again, but to think that sleeping with Moretti would somehow make things better.

It was all too much for him to wrap his head around and perhaps that's what led him to drive without really having a set destination in mind. How often had he and Danijela done just that in the early days of their relationship?   Time off had been such a luxury for him, and time alone for the young couple even more so before their move to Vukovar. How many times would they borrow a car from one of their parents, bundle Jasna up, pack enough food for the day, and set off just to be by themselves?  As Joe fell asleep and he found himself hypnotized by the monotony of the highway, he wasn't surprised to find his thoughts returning to those days.

It wasn't until he caught sight of the sign announcing his approach to Vukovar that he realized just how much of a pull back to his past his thoughts had played on him. His first instinct was to immediately stop the car, to turn around before he even entered the City.  He hadn't been back since the fall of the City, so why now? His eyes shot to Joe, and he found himself looking for similarities in the boy's sleeping face to the two children he had lost all those years ago. Was that it, was the threat of losing Abby and Joe so strong that it would bring him back here when nothing else had been able to before this?

There was no question of where he had to go now that he was here and while he couldn't quite bring himself to stop the car, he at least slowed as he passed first the hospital, and then the site where the apartment had once stood.  There was no question of his stopping as he reached his final destination, and with the car parked, he reached over to free Joe from his carseat.

"You want to go for a walk, Joe? Let's go get some directions." He sat his son on the ground before taking his hand and starting toward the office. Seventeen was hard to believe so many years had passed, but, just driving through the City he had seen the changes, he couldn't have expected things to standstill, it was a lifetime ago. Following the directions in his hand he led Joe between the rows of tombstones, so many lives cut short. Too many, as he neared those for his family he stopped to pick his son up, needing his closeness now, more then ever.

There were no fancy headstones here, no stone monuments with elaborate floral displays, just row after row of markers identifying too many who had died before their time. As he finally located his family he regretted not having thought to have at least stopped for flowers for them.

"Tata, cry?" It was only when Joe touched the wetness on his cheek that Luka realized he was doing just that. Instead of answering, he kissed his son before sitting him on the ground so he could approach the graves on his own.

Danijela Kovac...Beloved Wife and Mother 1968-1991
Jasna Kovac...Beloved Daughter 1986-1991
Marko Kovac...Beloved Son 1989-1991

Seventeen years since he had lost his first family, and now he stood the chance of losing another if he didn't find a way of coming to terms with what had happened. Sinking to his knees at the end of the graves he motioned Joe to him before pulling his son into his arms and closing his eyes. Something had drawn him back to this place, the answer had to be here, it had to be.
"Talk to me Danijela, tell me what to do."




Friday, July 11, 2008

July Prompt 005. What would you do with three wishes? / Creative Muses


"Luka, are you asleep?" Abby shifted positions so, she could prop herself up on her arm with the question.  As she lifted a lock of bangs up and out of his eyes, she found herself smiling slightly.

"Luuu...ka." Despite the problems that they'd been having, despite what she had done, and the angry words on both sides, she still wanted to make their marriage work.  She hadn't exactly told him what it meant to her to have him back, but, it was moments like these that she had missed more than others. The thought hadn't even fully formed in her mind when she felt his eyes on her, and she raised hers to meet his.

"Good morning." A smile immediately found it's way to her face before she leaned in to kiss him.

"Morning yourself." Luka returned her kiss before rolling to his side so he could watch her. "Joe still asleep?"

"Yeah, it's still early. Do you want some coffee? I could put some on." Getting up was really the last thing she wanted to do, but, if he wanted it...

"No, I'm fine." It was his turn to touch her, and as his fingers traced the length of her jaw from earlobe to chin, she wondered if he could sense her nervousness.

"Luka, I'm sor..." For whatever reasons he silenced her with a finger to her lips.

"Don't, Abby.  We can't change what either of us did, all we can do is try and start over and promise each other that we won't let anyone come between us again." His eyes swept over her as he spoke, looking for the small signs that would give him clues to how she was taking them.

"Do you ever wish you could just go back and change things?"

"Change things like how?" A look of confusion found it's way to Luka's face.

"You know, like the Genie in the bottle, you get three wishes and you can change anything you want." Almost as quickly as she offered the example she regretted it, how could she expect him to choose correcting this over getting his family back. Abby's hand went to her face, what was she thinking?

"I couldn't do it."  Luka shook his head slowly, realizing what his words must sound like to her. "You're asking me if I'd sacrifice you and Joe, for Danijela, Jasna, and Marko, and I can't even think about doing that.  It doesn't mean I love any one person more or less than another or that any situation is better or worse, everything happens for a reason, it's all part of the plan." Luka finally dropped his eyes from her face.

"We may not understand it, we may not always like it, but it's not for us to change." A smile crept slowly onto his face again.

"Now I need coffee." He flung the covers aside and stood. "You coming?"

"I'm coming." Abby found herself easily returning his smile and in that moment she honestly felt there was hope for them.  Wishes or not, they could make their marriage work, she was sure of it.


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Prompt 237: Birthday/Theatrical Muse

It's your birthday! If anything were possible, what would be your perfect way to celebrate?
Danijela and Jasna

He should have realized it was coming, the date was one of a number that were forever etched in his memory, but unlike Jasna's birthday, there were no photographs to capture the moment. Of all the regrets, he hated being unable to let go of something so trivial, he had lost so much, and yet he returned time and time again to the photo he didn't have, the image he alone was responsible for never losing. Was there any doubt then that when Abby asked him what his perfect birthday would be that he would ask to go back to that day, despite the reaction from her it prompted.

"Tata...Marko is messing everything up." Jasna's complaint carried across the small patio to where Luka sat with several of his friends.

"Hold that thought. I'd better get him before she does something she'll regret." Tipping his beer up, Luka took a deep swallow before returning it to the table and standing.

"I'm coming, Baby." Working his way around the clusters of party-goers, it only took him a moment to hone in on the current source of his eldest child's misery. Jasna and several other girls close to her age, had chosen a spot not far from the table that held the birthday cake and other refreshments to play with their dolls. Unfortunately, they hadn't counted on an unwelcome addition to their playgroup, and a not too clean one at that.

"Marko...stop it." Luka reached the small group just as his four year old daughter was preparing to hit her baby brother over the head with her doll, and he quickly scooped him up and out of harm's way as the toy just missed him, despite the cry of protest that followed.

"Jasna, no hitting." He offered the chastisement before leaning down and kissing the top of her head. "Play nice." It was only as he straightened to return to his friends that he noticed the chocolate that covered not just his son but, now him as well.

"What'd you do, fall in the chocolate ice cream?" Whether it was the question itself, how it was asked, or just Luka's expression he'd never know, but, it was enough to send Marko and the group of girls into a fit of giggling.

He would never know how it was that he'd been able to salvage the photo of Danijela and Jasna from their apartment after the bombing, yet none of Marko could be found. Even as he mourned the losses of everything except that one small photograph, he found he could close his eyes and in an instant he was back at the birthday party. Even more amazing though was the clarity of which he could call up that image of his son, chocolate on his face and hands, a smile forever captured on his face.

How could he not return to that day if he were ever given that chance?

Prompt 20.3: I don't feel comfortable talking to my partner about.../Couples Therapy

we three

It's never been easy for me to talk about the life I lost.  I left Croatia initially because I didn't want the constant reminders of the places Danijela and I had started our life. When I arrived in the United States, I chose to work as a fill-in doctor because it allowed me to do my job and avoid getting close enough to anyone that they would ask about my past.  It worked for a while, and then I found myself in Chicago.  Don't get me wrong, things didn't change for me overnight, at first Chicago wasn't different than any other City.  County wasn't any different than any other hospital.  I didn't go in thinking that it was time for me to start talking about my past, and it wasn't until they asked me to work there full-time that anyone learned anything about me. But, this isn't about other people, this is about Abby. 

I can't be sure, but, other then her knowing that I'd been married and that I'd lost my wife and children in Croatia, she really knew nothing about me.  Okay, maybe that's not entirely true.  If you were to ask her, it's because of the feelings that I still had for my wife that things didn't work out for us the first time were were together.  I couldn't really blame her, I think it was too soon for me to rush into things, and even later when I dated Sam, she complained because I wouldn't talk to her about Danijela and the children.

In my mind I couldn't really understand what good it did our relationship for me to talk to them about the life I had with Danijela. Maybe, it was more I didn't think they would understand that despite the number of years she'd been gone, I still loved her, I still love her now, and I don't see that ever changing.  Danijela was my first love, she was the mother of my first children, and it wasn't as if we chose to end our relationship.  The life we shared was torn away from us, neither of us wanted it to be over and to this day there is still pain when I think of it.

The hardest part of all this is that despite how uncomfortable I am about talking to Abby about Danijela and our children, I know that I need to share their lives with Joe.  Jasna and Marko are his brother and sister and he deserves to know who they were even if he will never have a chance to meet them.  Even atthe age he is now, I see glimpses of Jasna and Marko in Joe.  Of course, the more painful aspect of that is knowing that he is already older then Marko was when he died, and I know I'll continue watching for those signs until he passes the age Jasna was as well. How do I explain that to Abby? Maybe I don't, maybe this is something for Joe and I to keep between us, I just don't know.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Prompt 7.1: If you could be anyone, who would you be?/Writers Muses

Luka and Danijela Just Me

As strange as it might seem, I have no wish to be anyone other then who I am. I look back at all I have been through, at the people who have touched my life, and as bad as some of those experiences have been, I'm not willing to give up the good to forget the bad. I suppose in a way, things have to be like this, a balancing of the scales, good and evil, right and wrong, happy and sad, you can't have one without the other. 

I can't say there haven't been times that I haven't wanted to end my life, I've had more then my share of times like that.  I remember the worst of those days, there were far too many of them after Danijela and our babies were taken from me.  I used to tempt death in the days immediately following the burials.  Where once I had done everything in my power to avoid being targeted by one of the snipers watching over the City, after their deaths, I went out of my way to put myself in harm's way.

Years later I would again find my life spared while another died in my place and I would find myself wondering why my life held any more value then theirs.  How do I begin to thank someone who sacrifices their own life for mine, or a mother who puts not just her life, but that of her daughter's below the worth of mine? How do I begin to repay them for caring for me, when there is little enough food and water for one? How do I thank them for staying and sacrificing the quality of their lives to ensure I was cared for?

Even as I know these are likely the most important reasons for my being here, I know there are others I owe my life to. There are people whose memories I am destined to carry in not just my head, but my heart as well, people who have touched me on so many levels, and whose memories would be lost if I were to become someone else.  Danijela, our babies, The Bishop, Sakima and Chance, Patrique, Rick Kendricks, Erin, even Abby and Joe.

I can't run away from my life no matter how much I might want to, I can't escape into someone else's life.  If I've learned nothing else after all these years then that is the one lesson that remains, the memories of the lives of those no longer here are entrusted to me.  The mistakes that I made had consequences whether they were good or bad, they impacted other lives and they deserve to be remembered. I am the voice for those who can no longer speak for themselves and so, in the end, I can only be myself.

Friday, July 4, 2008

June Prompt 004: Ache/ Artistic License

Danijela and Jasna

A week, had it already been that long?

Luka's eyes settled on the small black and white photograph that lay under his hand. A week ago he and Danijela had been looking toward their future, making plans for where they would go when his residency was finished. The decision had already been made to leave Vukovar. It wasn't just the war, being so far from family and friends had been hard on them both, but now, with Jasna ready to start school, and Marko walking and talking so much more. There was so much they wanted to share with their parents, with their grandparents, with all of those who meant so much to both of them.

A week they'd been gone, and all he had left of them was a single photo of his wife and daughter and memories of a life that was gone forever. No, he had more than that, he had the ache of loneliness, the guilt from promises he'd made and would never keep. Why was he so special? Why couldn't his life have been the one forfeited?

It's gone. As if losing my family isn't enough, my faith is gone as well. How could it not be? What kind of god steals life from those who haven't even had a chance to live yet? All these years we've wasted, believing in what we thought was a just and loving god, and this is how He repays us?

I'm tired, I want to sleep but, I can't because I know they'll be there. It's been a week, and everytime I close my eyes they are there, questioning me, begging me to save them. Over and over I see my baby boy's bruised body as I free him from the rubble that buried him alive. I hear Danijela's cry of anguish as I tell her Marko's gone, but, nothing is worse then repeatedly failing my little girl, knowing that because I was too tired to go on, she too had to die.

I want to be left alone with my grief. I'm tired of hearing how sorry everyone is, sorry's won't bring Danijela or our babies back. I want the pain to stop but, it won't, and I wonder if this is what I deserve for not dying with them. I was supposed to protect them and I didn't. How do I explain my failure as husband and father to protect them to our parents? How do I tell them that they'll all gone? I want to crawl inside a bottle and never come out, and even as I wish that I know I can't. I'm the keeper of their memories, and as long as I live so do they, but, it doesn't make me miss them any less.