"Tata, watch! Xaman taught me how to do a flip in the water. Watch me! Watch me!"
"I'm watching, sweetheart," I call from the grass where I stand a few meters from the edge of the water.
My five-year-old daughter thinks that her twelve-year old cousin can do no wrong, and Xaman has been protective of Nimah since the day he knew she was coming. I smile as they play together in Loh ha, and Xaman impresses Nimah with all his tricks while she tries her best to imitate him. Nimah looks a lot like her cousins, but her hair is a little bit lighter, and streaked with a tinge of auburn. She has grown up mostly on Earth, but we come to Trebus every summer to spend a month at the family cabin near Loh ha.
Muluc and I have added several rooms to the cabin, so that there is room for all of us, plus Ixhaan. Gretchen Janeway has been to visit, too, as have Phoebe, Jeff and their boys. There are five bedrooms in the cabin, now. Sekaya and Muluc have their room, and Kathryn and I have ours. The room that I built for Kathryn years ago now belongs to our children, and Xaman, Eme and their little brother Makiq share the fourth bedroom. The fifth is reserved for Ixhaan, Gretchen, or other guests - Tom and B'Elanna, Harry Kim and his wife, the EMH, Seven. The whole Voyager family is welcome at Loh ha, and most of them have been here to experience the redemption of the waters at one point or another.
Eme, now nine, is at the water's edge, patiently helping her tilla with little Eddie. Eddie is almost two. Kathryn and I adopted him from a Bajoran orphanage a little over a year ago, and this is his first experience at the lake. Eme and Kathryn are trying to get him to walk into the water, but he doesn't seem so sure. He is our reserved, cautious child, whereas Nimah is ready for anything, anytime.
Nimah was a surprise, born a little more than nine months after that first night we made love in the cabin. I hadn't proposed yet when we found out she was coming. I had thought I had plenty of time. But, as always, the universe had other plans for Kathryn and me. Kathryn and I were married in a small, private ceremony, here at Loh ha, a few months before Nimah was born. I have no regrets about any of it. Nimah and Eddie are the greatest joys that have come into my life, after my wife, of course.
I feel a quiet presence beside me and turn to see my sister, who is cradling Makiq, now eight months old. I put my arm around her shoulders and hug her close to me. "Thank you," I say.
"For helping me remember who I was. For helping me find this. For giving me my family back."
She shakes her head. "You did that yourself, suku'un. I was just here to make sure you didn't screw up too badly."
I look out at the lake and smile, watching my wife, our children, my family, and I am at peace. I am happy. This does not mean things are simple. Every day is a new challenge. Life is never easy, and Kathryn and I have demanding careers that push us to our limits every day, but there is not a single moment when I regret my choice to let her into my life, into my heart and into my soul.
I have learned many lessons from Loh ha over the years. Things change; they move in cycles. In the winter, the lake freezes over and becomes ice. In the spring it thaws, and in the summer, it becomes warm enough for people to swim in it. Loh ha has taught me that this change is not good or bad; it simply is. The bugs, the beasts, the birds - they all simply exist and act in accordance with their nature. Do not rail against the storm, but instead adapt yourself - my sister told me that night by the fire. In the end, it was a storm that brought Kathryn and me together. It is not the storm itself that is good or bad, but what you choose to do with it.
I came to Loh ha five years ago seeking redemption, but I learned something else. To live is, in itself, a blessing. Cicithan. To exist, to live each moment to the best of my ability, to give myself in love to another and accept her love in return, to treat others with grace and courage, to draw strength from my family, to do what is right - this is all that is necessary for a good life, and anyone is capable of it, no matter where they have come from or what they have been through. I came to Loh ha seeking redemption, but instead, I discovered that I did not need to be redeemed.