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.