Monday, November 24, 2008
Prompt 63.6: Soothe / Writers Muses
Looking at how much my son has grown in the last six months makes me realize how much I've missed by being gone so long. It's not just the changes in his size, it's missing his first steps, hearing him say his first real words. In those six months he went from being a little baby to a toddler, and I missed all that came with those changes.
Standing here now on the front porch of my father's house, holding him in my arms, trying to soothe him as he fusses over new teeth that are working their way in, I'd be lying if I said it doesn't bring back memories of days long past. I look at him and it's impossible for me not to make comparisons between Marko and Joe. I know he's older now then Marko was at the time I lost him. Still, I can't help but find myself wondering if my first son would have been more like Joe if he'd had the chance at a normal childhood, instead of one that seemed to revolve around war. If he'd had the freedom to run and play outside, to know something as simple as going to the park, instead of being cooped up in our small apartment in Vukovar, with only the hallway as his playground. Would he have had Joe's sense of humor once he really started talking? Would he and Jasna have argued like Niko and I do, or would they have been inseparable as we were when we were young?
I think back on the times my father spent with Jasna and Marko, the days we spent at the beach before we moved to Vukovar, and it makes me so sad knowing Joe will never know that. He'll never know his grandfather as Jasna and Marko did, he'll never get the chance to sit in his lap as he reads him a story, or hear him sing the songs Niko and I grew up with. It's not fair, for either of them. He waited so many years for me to find someone. No matter how stubborn I was, he refused to give up on me, he knew I would have a family again, even when I didn't. Why couldn't he have held on just a little longer?
"Shhh, Joe, I know they hurt, baby, let Tata put some medicine on." Fishing the tube of Orajel out of his pocket, Luka squeezed a small dab of the gel onto his finger then rubbed it over the gum where his son's molars were starting to come in.
"This is going to make it feel better, let's go inside and get you some Tylenol and some juice, too." Shifting the still fussing boy to his shoulder, he patted his back as they headed inside. The teething process was one that was unavoidable, but, lucky for Joe, he was nearing the end of the cycle, once his molars were in he was done until the baby teeth themselves began dropping out. It was only after his son settled in his highchair and his needs were taken care of that Luka allowed his thoughts to again wander.
The guilt over having waited so long would likely remain for some time, he couldn't change that, and at least his father had been able to see pictures of Joe. But, why now? After all these years, why was he taken now, before he had a chance to meet the grandson that for so long I had denied would ever exist? The questions were ones he would never have answers to. He couldn't continue to dwell on them though, his father would never forgive him him for that. No, this time he would do what he hadn't been able to do when he'd lost his family, he'd keep living his life to the fullest. This time, he wouldn't retreat from the world, for Joe, for Abby, but, mainly for his father, he would show him that he'd heard the words that the elder Kovac had imparted on him, and when Joe was old enough he would pass what his father hadn't been able to, on to him as well. Joe might not physically know his grandfather as he was growing up, but, Luka would make sure that he would know the man in every other sense of the word. With the decison made, Luka felt the sadness that had been hanging over him lift, and as it did he was sure it was a sign that his father was giving his blessing to his decision. They were going to be all right, he was sure of it.