Patient's Name: Luka Kovac
Fandom: ER
Word Count: 510
Partner Patient’s Name (canon): Abby Lockhart

We almost threw it all away because of stupid mistakes we'd both made. Before we made the decision to leave Chicago, Abby and I weren't even sure our marriage would even survive everything we'd been through over the last year. Here we are though, in a new City, with new jobs, new friends, a new life, and as difficult as it has been, we're finding ways to let the pain we caused each other go.

When the news first came of my father's illness, there was no question that I had to go back to Croatia to see him. If I had been thinking with a clear head, I'd have done whatever I could to take Abby and Joe with me. I wanted so badly for him to meet them, to know them and love them as much as I do. After everything happened, I couldn't help but wonder if it all couldn't have been prevented if only I'd waited for Joe's passport. If Abby and Joe had been there instead of Chicago, she'd never have become so overwhelmed by what was happening with her life. She'd never have started drinking again, she'd never have put our son's life in danger, she'd never have cheated on what we had with her boss. All of those things that came from my being gone so long could have been prevented.

It was hard coming home and feeling something wasn't right, then, learning the truth of what my absence had cost us. How do I reconcile myself to knowing that while I was worrying about whether my father would live or die, she was trying to escape from everything in a bottle. How do I apologize to my son for abandoning him for my father, because in a way I know I did just that. For almost 6 months I left him, and all I could teach him, to be at my father's side, even knowing there was little I could do for him. But, even knowing that, how could I not? He was still my Tata. He was the one who had nursed my bruises when I'd fallen as a child, the one who'd soothed the demons of my nightmares. He'd been the one to try and ease the pain the loss of my family had cost me, and hardest of all, he'd let me go when I knew I could no longer stay in Croatia and face all of the reminders of those losses.

I couldn't have known my being with him would almost cost me this family, but, even if I had, how could I possibly choose between them? How could I say one was more important to me then the other, when in truth I needed both to be who I am. Abby and I are still not fully back where we once were, but, everyday seems to find us closer, and I no longer fear that we'll lose what we have. We're a family, and we're in this for forever, I'm sure of it now.
There was a time when I dreaded being asked if I had children because, even though Jasna and Marko had been taken from me, I still considered myself their Tata. I can't tell you how many nights I woke with the sound of their voices in my ears, hearing them calling me and knowing I could never answer that call. I reached a point that I avoided parks, passing by schools, beaches, anywhere that I might risk hearing a child's cry for their Tata, because I knew I would think it was them, even if only for that split second when hope wished them alive.

It was the same when people asked me if I was married, because I knew in my heart that no matter how many years passed, my love for Danijela would never falter. She was my wife, the mother of our children, and despite how I had lost her, nothing could change that. It took me almost 9 years before I could see anyone else and not feel I was cheating on her, and even then it still didn't feel right. I couldn't know that there were still issues I had to resolve, and until I did, I could never move on.

It took time, but, I finally succeeded. It's been 18 years now, and I no longer dread those questions. I have a new family now, a wife and a son I love, and a new life without the burden of sadness hanging on it. There are still nights when I hear the call of those long gone, still times when I wake to the memory of their faces, but, I no longer dread them, and though some come with sadness, far more come with memories of the happier times we spent, and it's those I treasure the most.

Muse: Luka Kovac
Fandom: ER
Words: 374


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