War tends to kill. It doesn’t always kill with a bullet or a shell. More often, it kills with grief and sorrow like it did to me for the last three years now.
I felt like I had been dead for a long time.
The first thing the war killed in my life was my home. It happened on July 11, 2014. My husband and I were having a dinner after work when we heard this terrible sound. The whole house was shaking. The glass was scattered on the floor and objects were falling down from the shelves and from the table. My husband yelled, «Lay down!» and he covered me with his body.
For a long time, we couldn’t believe that our house was dead. We had just finished remodeling and bought new furniture. We could still feel the smell of paint and wallpaper glue and a moment later everything was gone. We didn’t have anything – no gas or electricity supply, no water. Just dust, dirt, scattered glass and pieces of plaster around. The roof was cut with shells and it could not protect us from rain any more. And the most difficult thing was that we had no time or sense to fix anything under constant, unceasing shelling.
Death hunters became just another problem. While all people in our street were hiding in the basement, they would come into people’s home through the windows and take whatever they could carry away. They were like vultures on a dead body of an animal.
The second victim of war was our business. My husband and I used to have a small shop on the crossroads between the towns of Maryinka and Krasnogorovka. Unfortunately, war turns everything upside down. Someone broke in. Someone saw that the door was open at night. Someone thought that the shop had been abandoned… I don’t know how it all happened but they took everything they could carry– food products, clothes and appliances. They only thing we were able to save was a fridge.
We found ourselves with no home, no job, no warmth and no food… We would never believe had something tell us that it was only the beginning. Who would have thought that this wouldn’t end in a year or two? Who would have thought that the most terrible events were still ahead?
When my husband had a stroke and was taken to hospital in Kurakhovo, I was crying at the door of his hospital room whispering, «Don’t leave me… Don’t dare to leave me in the midst of this horror… I won’t survive without you! Please, get better! Get up! Or I will die with you». I sold everything I had left at home just to buy him medicines.
…It feels like the war is laughing when it hears and sees things like that. This ugly beast is happy to devour human tears. I know it for sure. At the funeral of my husband Vitaly I felt like I was covered with the tomb dust too.
What happened next? Does it really matter? In that different world I was just sitting on my old wet couch in our summer kitchen, just within a couple of meters from our dead house. My mother was burning some wood in our old furnace and making some tea for me. She was saying something and we were doing something. We were putting glass into the windows. Why? What for? For new shells? Who was going to live there?
And then… Galina Kucher came to visit me one day. She told me about the «Pope for Ukraine» initiative.
I can’t write any more because I cry more than I write. But since I’ve already started…
I slept at home last night. I washed the floor and cleaned the furniture. I cleaned the sofa and made the bed for myself. I went to bed wearing a nightgown instead of warm pants and a warm jacket. For all night long I was holding on to the heating pipe and I could not believe it was true. There were still dust, dirt and death in other rooms but here… It was different. Nothing really changed. There was a woman who came into my house, bringing a good word from the Pope… She hugged me and said, «Live, Ira, just live!» They brought and installed this hard-fuel boiler. They brought and cut up some firewood for me and started the heating system…
Vitaly? Can you hear me? The war is not the strongest one here! Our home has risen from the dead! It is warm here again. I will clean it up. May be, it won’t be as good as it was before when you and I had just fixed it, but WE WILL LIVE in our resurrected house.
Irina Karaberova, Maryinka
Hennadiy Novikov, Ammanuil Association