As Abby and I embark on this new chapter of our lives, it's hard not to look back on all I've been through to get to this point, on all we've been through. There were so many times when my life should have ended, so many times when I should have lost everything and everyone. We've both mistakes, there's no denying that, we could have taken the easy way out like we did the first time we were together, but, we didn't. Instead here we are, together. We have each other, we have our beautiful son, and while our marriage may not have fully recovered from all it's been subjected to, neither of us are ready to turn our back on it.
If I go back to the beginning, the very fact that I'm here when my first family isn't says more than I can with words. When I lost Danijela and our children in Vukovar, I thought my life was over. No, that's not true, I didn't think my life was over, I wanted it to be over. I that first week, I went out of my way to put myself in harm's way, hoping that God would answer my prayers and allow me to rejoin my family, and still I survived. When word came that the City was finally falling I was among those few who somehow escaped. Only later did I learn that so many of those I had called mentor and friends, as well as their patients had fallen when the Serbs massacred all those in the hospital.
Even knowing I had made it out of Vukovar when so many others never would wasn't enough to change how I was feeling. In my escape, I'd been shot, and after two days of travel I'd had enough, exhausted, hungry, and in pain, I was ready to go. When I stumbled onto an abandoned house, and then the next morning I found the bodies of those who had once lived there. What kind of animals murder innocent children only to leave then lying in the mud? I decided right then and there I was through trying, I knew I had to get away from the stench, and I walked until I could walk no more, and then I lay down and prayed that when I closed my eyes it would be for the last time.
It wasn't. When I woke I found myself in a Displaced Person's camp with strangers fighting for the life I was ready to throw away. It took me months to change how I felt, and when the time came for me to leave I went to the only place I had left. My father welcomed me with open arms, but, it didn't take long for me to realize that there were too many reminders there of things I no longer had. Too many reminders of the future that was gone forever. I had to leave, I had no choice. If I wanted to ever have any hope for another life it had to be somewhere other than Hrvatska, little did I know it would put a rift between my brother and I that would take almost 15 years to heal.
My being in the United States wasn't a quick fix for me, I made more mistakes then I was ready to admit to, including wasting years that Abby and I could have shared together had I not been so lost in my past. It took my cheating death for a second time for me to finally realize that my life held value if I was willing to see it. Knowing that Sakima and Chance had been willing to risk their lives to save mine, knowing Patrique had lost his, and then having Carter be willing to travel all that distance just to claim my body is that he could return me to my father. How do you thank people for something like that? How could I keep living the life I'd been living without disrespecting everything they'd done?
It took a while for Abby and I to find our way back to each other, we had our tests, our challenges, from Joe's birth and those first month's of his life, then, all of the events connected to Curtis Ames. I thought marrying Abby would prove the end of the bad luck in our lives, we'd been through so much to get there, more than anything I wished my father could have seen it. All of those years he'd told me there was someone out there who would make me feel like Danijela did, and now I knew he was right.
My father never had the chance to meet my wife or my son, in fact, it was his illness that would provide Abby with the greatest test to our relationship, while at the same time healing the rift that had kept Niko and I apart for so long. Things aren't yet back to where they were with Abby and I, but, we're getting there. Boston is allowing us the chance to start all over again. It's a new City, the mistakes we made remain behind us in Chicago, I love my wife, and I love my son, I know know that our future is what we choose to make it, and the past can only hold onto us if we let it. Boston isn't about the past though, and everyday when we wake up and see Joe's face it only confirms that for us. We belong together, and for the first time in far too long I can honestly say I'm looking forward to all my life has to give.
Muse: Luka Kovac