“I love you and I will miss you.“

Larysa, Dnipropetrovsk region, 21.03.2022

“I love you and I will miss you.“

Having taught history at school for the past twelve years, telling students about wars, I would never have thought that war would become a reality…

On February 23, everything was just fine. Vaccinated against Covid-19, (and after receiving the state bonus in the amount of UAH 1,000) my friend and I bought movie tickets and went to a cafe. And at last, for the first time since 2020, we have felt that life was seemingly getting better!

My godparents came to my parents' house, and being inspired by our recent trip, they decided to go to a concert together. I spent two hours browsing through the web, ordering tickets for each of them, paid by the money received from vaccination. And when everything finally worked out, it was already 23.00. Everyone was happy and the guests left in anticipation of an upcoming event. I went to bed happy! In addition, on the following day my classes were starting at 11.30, so I could sleep properly. But that was not meant to happen…

Something woke me up in the morning. I did not quite understand what, at first. I live near the road and truckers often pass by. Due to their weight, the windows in the house shake. Something shook me again. “Great sleep indeed!“ I thought, and turned the other way. “Something“ happened again. Annoyed, I got up, opened one eye, found my glasses, put on my robe and went outside… Still sleepy, I stood in the middle of the yard and could not understand what I saw. I saw a horrible picture, as if from a Hollywood action movie, starring Bruce Willis or Arnold Schwarzenegger from his “I’ll be back.“ The sky was burning, explosions were coming from three sides, the ground itself was shaking beneath me, and I was standing and thinking whether to wake my parents. Maybe it's because some military depots failed? Suddenly, my sleepy mother came out of her house. She turned to me, and I said thoughtfully, “It seems the war has begun.“

The sky continued burning, explosions were heard. Suddenly the phone rang. My girlfriend-neighbour said: “Larissa, someone is trying to break into my house!“ “No one is breaking in. This is the war that has just begun! ” And almost at this time, another neighbour ran out into her yard: “What happened?“ “I think it's war.“ Her husband served in the anti-terrorist operation in 2014-2015, he was at the forefront and saw death. At that time he was working outside the city. She called him and told him what was happening. A friend‘s husband said it could not be. That‘s some training. But I have a different picture in front of my eyes. And there was no information on the Internet. At the same time, something whistled over us. The sound of explosions swept around and everything calmed down…

I watched video chronicles from the Second World War, watched movies a thousand times, told my students about war, heard stories from refugees from Donetsk and Lugansk, but… how in the XXI century, in the age of technology, when Elon Musk Conquers Space! World markets! Economy! Cryptocurrency! Biological weapons! In Japan, robots do the job (indistinguishable from humans)! Covid after all! And among this all - the remnants of primitive society in the form of war takes over!That's how outraged I was when we met at school with the team to discuss further action.

War erases everything you knew before. All! You do not know how to work, where to go, what to do, you forget to eat and drink. You forget how to live! You are not making any plans anymore. You do not know what awaits you tomorrow. There is no such word as “tomorrow“ at all. You don't even know what will happen in an hour! And what an hour! You don't know what is going to happen in 5 minutes. Everyone who could, had called me. On the first day and in the following days. There was hope that the war would end soon. But as of March 21 the war continues

From February 27 sirens began to cry regularly, announcing air attacks. A neighbor, whose husband was in the anti-terrorist operation zone, gave her instructions on how to behave during airstrikes. We started looking for a cellar to hide in, but neither mine nor hers suited, and we turned to another neighbour. They arranged it: they took out the jars, cleaned the cobwebs, laid them out. Therefore, when the siren sounded on February 27, we were more or less ready.

The first wave of sirens made us panic. However, we gathered and rushed to the cellar: mother with a dog in her arms, me with a cat, father and brother behind us. In the cellar we laughed (nervously), remembering the fairy tale “The Mitten:“ we counted eleven people, plus a cat and a dog. Then there was just horror! You could not sleep peacefully, eat or do everyday things - the siren sounded constantly. God! How annoying it all is! I am so angry that I am ready to strangle racists with my bare hands! We went down and out of our shelter several times a day. On Monday, February 28, the Facebook post appeared in the local community group with a list of necessary things to help the army and refugees. In the evening the question in my head was “Where can I be useful?“ the answer came. The principal wrote that the school needed volunteers. This calmed me down a bit.

On Saturday, March 5, I had a terrible headache. The events of the past weeks, tension and stress made themselves felt. No pills helped. One by one, my mother and both neighbours came to me. They brought medicine, but to no avail. Sirens cried. The phone rang all day from the messages “ATTENTION! A siren sounds in the Dnieper! ..“ But I could not get out of bed. The thought that I would die, either from a rocket flying in our direction or from a headache, crept into my head. It was so heavy. In the evening I got better. I was able to get up and even eat. At one point, I decided I couldn't be so helpless any longer.

We wove camouflage nets even today on March 8th. The day before, in the evening, the husband of one of the volunteers, a local deputy, bought us tulips. Spring is still a holiday. Irina, who also weaves with us, was called by her sons, my students. The following dialogue took place: “Guys, do you know who is here with me? Larysa Yuriyivna.“ “Mom, I want to congratulate her,“ and my mother held up a camera phone to me. Sasha was hard of hearing (due to the war we experience constant interruptions with the network), but his attention was more than enough. When my former student, who is now studying at the military academy in Odessa, called to greet me on the holiday of March 8, it was the best end to the day! Thank God, he's alive! He reassured me that all would be well, and that victory was ours. My hero's name is Alexander Kruglov. I would like to post a photo of him so that everyone knows him in person, but for his own safety, I will not do that.

Even a strong person can break. My students started leaving Ukraine. Do you know how painful it is to see them go?! After the morning explosions of March 11, in the evening, both of my friends-neighbours came to me. They came to say they were leaving. My hysteria did not end for almost a day. I kept crying. My mother tried calming me down, saying that I was her main source of support, because I am always so courageous. But nothing helped me. In the evening my friend from Tokmak, Zaporozhye region, called. He called because he needed support. His city was captured by the occupiers, there were tanks everywhere, cadres with machine guns. Before capturing the city, it was filled with rockets. My friend's wife, who was due to give birth in late March, was sitting in the basement, and they got stuck there. The humanitarian aid brought to the city was immediately confiscated by Russian soldiers and did not reach the people in need. There was no light, no water, all the shops were closed. After hearing his story, I was able to pull myself together, and I realised that I had to hold on, I had to be brave for my friends, for the students who were forced to leave.

I recorded a video of support for each of my students. One girl wrote: “I didn't want to leave, but we had to. We will come to the prom, or at least we will try. I didn't think I would ever say that, but: “I love you and I will miss you.“

My friends were on the go for a long time, but finally they arrived at their final destinations. Now one is in Poland, while the other one - in Germany. Both without their husbands, but with two children. They say that everyone treats them very well, they are being helped, but they still want to go home.

March 13: The fourth night in a row without normal sleep! Sirens! Let those racists be torn by their own missiles! Today, a father saw in the news the deceased general, who was the father of his friend. Very upsetting! They say the war has subsided. We have not noticed! The bombings continue at night ...

In the evening I learned that two of my students are going abroad. My heart is pounding with sadness! The grandmother, who takes care of them, said she hoped they could return one day. She cried, because when their mother had died, she was the one who took care of them. Another student's mother called. She cried. Her brother and mother remained in Mariupol. There is no connection. Her mother is 72 years old and lives alone. She is afraid that her mother has nothing to eat because they do not let the humanitarian aid pass. Or worse ... her son, my student, saw in the news the ruined street where they used to live and their house. Or rather, the place where their house used to be.

I can't help but think of Kyiv. I often go to Kyiv for various seminars. The last time was in late October. A seminar attended by mostly history teachers and lecturers, from all over Ukraine. The seminar was dedicated to the tragedy in Babyn Yar. After the seminar was over, we had some spare time, and we decided to visit this place with a small company of friends. I still remember the awful cold running through my back when we walked through Babyn Yar. When I saw how the rocket hit the TV tower and Babyn Yar, I shuddered with terror! I cried and cursed. When will the people who are buried there finally rest in peace? When will their remains be given rest?

I can't help but think of my friends and acquaintances from all over Ukraine! How are they? Some get in touch, some don't. I can't help but think of my students! And how much I miss them!!! During this past week, two of my friends and their four children, five of my students, my sister with her daughter, a brother with his wife and three children went abroad. I am very grateful to everyone who gave shelter to my relatives, friends, acquaintances, and students.

Huge thank you to those who offered me shelter in Western Ukraine!

Thank you Centropa for your financial support!

Thank you to the President of Ukraine, the Armed Forces of Ukraine and all those who help and protect us!

The city of Dnieper is still relatively calm, however, for how long will it last? I wish it would last and the war was over! I pray for our sky to be shielded! Then both my friends and students could return home to Ukraine!

Glory to Ukraine!

Glory to our Heroes!