I've made it through another year. It's so hard to believe. Has it really been sixteen years since I lost them? It's not easy being so far away from anyone who understands what I'm feeling, so, I'm left to honor the date on my own. I thought about calling Niko, but, I couldn't do it. It's too close to Tata's death, and there are still so many raw wounds between us when it comes to Danijela and the decisions I made after I lost her and our babies.
Sixteen years...a lifetime in too many ways. The age Danijela was when first we met, the age she was when I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her. I'd never believed you could really fall in love at first sight until that moment when I first saw her. I never believed I could lose myself so completely to one person, but I did, and I know she felt the same.
I remember so clearly the expression on my parent's faces when I told them that I'd found the girl I wanted to marry. I remember their concerns over our age, and all we'd be giving up, by tying ourselves down before we'd even had a chance to experience life. I remember so vividly the looks Danijela and I exchanged because words weren't even necessary between us. How could they think we were giving anything up? No, far from giving anything up, we were filling the emptiness that had been lurking inside of us for longer then either of us could remember.
It wasn't an easy decision for us to move to Vukovar for my residency. We had Jasna by then, and we would be leaving our families and friends, but, we knew it had to be done. I knew how hard it would be for Danijela, spending all those hours alone with just our little girl to keep her company, I should have let her stay with her parents. Even saying that now, I know she never would have done it. We were married, she was my wife, for richer and poorer, sickness and health, til death do us part. If only she could have foreseen what was to come, if only I could have, and then she became pregnant with Marko and travel became even further from our thoughts.
It's funny though how a new baby changes how you look at life. I don't know if either of us could have ever been happier then we were in those early months when we were getting to know our new son and watching our baby girl adapt to her new role of big sister. Jasnaloved "her baby" so much, and would have sat for hours holding him if Danijela would have let her. I wish there would have been a way to bottle those months up so I could keep them forever. We managed a trip home for Jasna's fourth birthday, thrilling both sets of grandparents, and allowing Danijela and I a chance to catch up with old friends before work beckoned me back.
Neither of us wanted to believe the war would reach Vukovar, things like that don't really happen, or so we wanted to believe. I seemed to be spending more and more hours at the hospital and Danijela was kept busy with two active children, but, we should have seen the signs. I don't know when we first realized how bad it could get, I tried to convince Danijela to take the children and go to her parents, but, she refused to leave me. I should have forced her, I should have taken her to the bus and put all three on it despite what she said, but, I didn't, and then it was too late.
Sixteen years since since I stood alone in front of those three coffins. If only I'd forced her to take the children and go. If only. What a world we could build on if onlys. Sixteen years and I still miss them as if it were yesterday.