14.    Veronika (Zaporizhzhia)

I have a PhD in law, and a year before the invasion I started work on my postdoc. But as soon as the war started, my subject became obsolete overnight. I ended up stopping the work entirely. Life had changed, I could leave the refined pursuits for another time. I had to concentrate on feeding my children.

The 22nd of February was my 35th birthday, and I spent it watching my son play at the national draughts championship in Kherson. The next day was my mother-in-law’s birthday, so the whole family got together at this nice Georgian restaurant to celebrate both our days at once. We stayed out till midnight. And a few hours later our lives changed forever.

I often think about that last evening – the time I spent fussing over my outfit, the things we talked about, those carefree conversations… And I think about how different I am now, how different my values are. That entire old life is just gone. My husband’s law firm, our driver, the trip to Paris planned for our anniversary, all gone. Life now is survival. Stress and survival.

I knew I was strong, but I never quite understood the reserves I’ve got in store. But if you could call me nezlamna now, it’s all because of my children. One thing I’ve realized is that they’re more precious to me than anything in the world. And that I’d move mountains to keep them safe.

©️Nezlamna. 2023

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