Russian War Shatters Dreams and Meaning of Life

May 23, 2022
Kyiv oblast, Bucha. The story of Marina Balyaba, whose husband died in the war.

My war began on February 14, 2015. From a simple dialogue: - Hello. - Hello. - How are you? - I’m going to meet the guys. - Did you eat? - What are you, my mother?

In the end, I became more than a mother to him. In 7 years we have experienced a lot: the death of friends, combat injuries, severe post-traumatic stress disorder, constant rotations, training grounds. Our whole family life was permeated by war. Constant purchase of uniforms and army boots, a car for fast movement in positions. Calls for 10 seconds. SMS "I'm ok". Constant anxiety for life and health.

It got worse on February 24, 2022. I remember that day very well.

At 6 am, my husband's father called me and said that the war had started, that we should stay at home so that I would not take my son to kindergarten. I thought, “What is he saying? This cannot be! Well, we will not go to kindergarten, but we will definitely not miss additional classes”.

How naive I was. I got up and opened the window. The coolness immediately hit me in the face. But there were other sounds that had never been here before. I heard this when I went to my husband for a rotation in Mariupol in 2015. The shelling? But stop, I'm not in Mariupol, I'm in BUCHA! This is 2022! In the suburbs of Kyiv! What shelling?

It was a shock. I didn't believe in it. I called my husband and cried. He said to pack up and be with our son all the time. For the first time in my life, I felt a wild, animalistic fear. I could not believe that all this was really happening.

There was no service. We went to the grocery store and waited in line for 2.5 hours. At noon they started bombing the Gostomel airport. It is not far from our house. Planes, helicopters and rockets flew over us. Just like in Hollywood action movies, but in real life.

The fighting began, which turned to occupation. There was constant shelling by planes, tanks, self-propelled howitzers, mortars, missiles. There was no light, no gas, no water, no communication. My son and I lived like this for 24 days until Russian soldiers came to our house.

They searched the house, walked with their dirty boots on our laminate, which we had spent so long picking out. They set up camps in neighboring houses. We understood that our troops would knock them out during the counteroffensive, and we are in even greater danger now.

The next day we left in an evacuation column to Kyiv, and then to the center of Ukraine. I was broken. But a decisive blow awaited me. My husband died on March 30. It was my birthday. Life has stopped. I died with him.

We planned to give birth to a baby girl. Kylyna or Melanka. Have a church wedding. Go to the sea. Insulate the house. Make repairs. Buy a car. But now I have to do it myself. Russia has taken away from me the most important thing - the meaning of life. I don't know how to live anymore. And is it necessary?

Do you remember how I went to you in Mariupol? How you ate my pancakes. How the owner of the apartment shouted at us that we used a lot of hot water. How the Hospitallers said that you and I look alike. How we drank delicious coffee in a cafe near the drama theater. Napoleon cake was so gentle.

Do you remember how you talked to Nazar in my tummy? How you held my hand in labor. How we cried when he was born. And our first family photo. Do you remember how we did the repairs? Surprisingly, we had completely the same views on everything. We could easily trust each other in any matters.

Do you remember our scooter rides in the park? I was afraid, and you supported me.

Do you remember our morning coffee on the swing near the house? A little frost, hot coffee, and you and Nazar sculpt a snowman.

Do you remember how Nazar ate your borscht? It was really delicious. Even uncle Sergiy said that you need to open a restaurant when you retire.

Do you remember how we didn't do a photo shoot for our fifth wedding anniversary? You said that we still have a lifetime ahead of us and we will take so many photos.

Mariupol no longer exists, and we can't go to the place where you made a marriage proposal to me. The Bucha you loved so much is gone. There is no past. The future is unclear. Is only now. Where there is no US.

Fly, my love. See you in the next life. I love you, my only one.

The text is based on the testimony of Marina Balyaba


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