“My son left for war.“
Larysa, Zaporizhia region, 15.04.22
“My son left for war.“
Good afternoon, Mr. Adrii!
I am at work, with an internet connection, and can finally fulfill my promise – to send my diary to you. However, this is only its first part (before the middle of March). I will send the second part later. I have not yet sorted out all of my emotions and I want to add the stories of other people, who I am constantly in contact with, before sending it to you. Sometimes the stories are tragic. This is why I do not want to have them all as one pile.
Thank you for your support, but I have not yet received the money, maybe I will get it later. I work alone. My children are left without work. It is difficult. But I know that everything will be fine. I believe in our victory!
With respect, Larysa [...], [...].
Attached text document:
I woke up because of the explosions and thought: “It’s a borrow pit. Why did they start working so early? We normally hear the explosions [meaning the noise from the construction work] at 1 pm.” I went to the living room, where my adult son, who just returned from the Joint Forces Operation zone about two weeks ago, told me: “Mom, this is war! Our airport (its close by) has just been bombed by Russian aircrafts.”
I did not understand: “What war?”
Today my son has signed up to join the Territorial Defense. But they told him to go home. There are no weapons or military equipment in [...]. He was told to wait for a call.
We (our family) went to sleep. And on the street by our home, there is a street light that turns on automatically. It is very bright. And it’s very tall. It collects the light during the day, and it is impossible to turn it off. It’s a target. I am afraid!
Air raid sirens again. We are in the cellar, we are hiding. We hear the door to the neighboring house being opened. Someone excited, and we heard how they broke the streetlight by shooting it with an air pistol. All of us were relieved: “Thank God!” I can sleep today!
27.02.22. Kitties in the house.
We said goodbye to our son, who left for war. He is in the city. He called me and calmed me down.
And my ill husband (he has a disability of the musculoskeletal system) and I are going to sleep. When I just approached the coach, I heard a massive explosion. Everything around me started shaking. It seemed to me that the explosion happened around three houses away. We ran to our cellar. Although it’s not big, it is in one of our rooms. My other child called me. He turned 23 in February and moved out to live with his girlfriend: “Mom, there’s an air-raid siren!” I responded: “Yes! Dad and I know already, thank you.” I decided not to scare him and did not tell him that there were explosions near us.
We were sitting in the cellar with my husband, shaking with fright hearing that something was circling around us. It sounds like it’s a plane. Then we heard something falling and whistling. It was like that for a long time. We were praying. Then we heard another explosion. It was further away from us. Thank God, we are alive!
Everything turned quiet. We walked out from the cellar. We did not turn the light on. Only a tiny flashlight. We saw our cats running around the house. Where did they come from? Was the house locked? It’s clear. This explosion wave probably unlocked our doors, and our little furry pets hid away in our little house. From now on, we will be taking them inside every time, we should not leave them out on the street. But we are lucky. None of our windows is broken! All of the glass parts are in place. After such strong air bomb hits. We are waiting for the morning to find out what happened.
I went to the grocery store. There was lots of broken glass on the sidewalks. The windows were broken in many buildings. People are collecting [glass] after a “turbulent night” and the bombings. I am standing in line to get to the store. I am asking people: “What happened?” It appears that they bombed the boiler room. It is one and a half kilometers from us. How powerful was the hit? The people are lost. All of the conversations are about war. Both the conversations with the relatives in Ukraine and… in Russia. The people do not understand that the neighboring country has attacked us.
1.03.22 The Spring is here or highway “[...].”
My husband needed medications. He cannot leave without them. Before the war, we would receive them for free at the pharmacy by the district hospital as part of the program “Free medications.” And this time I had ordered in advance. But they did not come for some reason. It is understandable, the war, there is a bit of chaos.
There’s nothing I can do; I had to go and look for the medications at other pharmacies. There is no public transportation running to [...]. Our military settlement has a lot of blog posts, it is fortifying, there are many military, volunteers, weapons, equipment. Everyone is doing something; they are preparing for the defense. They are rushing.
I am going to the bus stop, I am waiting for someone in their car to take me to the town. There are almost no people around. Only the military are running with crazy speed.
I am trying to stop at least someone. Success. I am getting into a red car, I am telling the driver why I am going. The man is saying that he has also gone to his mother-in-law, he brought her diabetes medications. He took me to the nearest pharmacy. He is not taking my money. I am thanking him.
There are long lines at the pharmacies. Not all of them are open. I manage to buy the last two plates of medications. This will be enough for a week for my husband. We have to be looking for more. Air-raid siren. I am running to the bomb shelter of the district hospital. But I see that many people are standing in lines to the ATMs and pharmacies. They are not going to hide at the bomb shelter. I am scared and have to hide when I hear air-raid sirens.
The air-raid siren ends. I am running around the pharmacies at the microdistricts of the city that are the closest to our place. I am standing in lines. I manage to get two packs of medications my husband needs. But the prices for them are almost 40% higher. But I am not trying to save money now. I am also impressed by the humanity of our people in [...]. The man who lined up after me, bought bread for me while I was standing at the pharmacy. People are trying to help each other, they support each other.
I see three middle aged men by one of the nine-story apartment buildings. They are of athletic build. They are checking all of the doors by our building. I am far away from them. I started to shout: “What are you doing there? Who are you?” They respond: “We are from the communal services. We are checking the bomb shelters”. They start to quickly walk away.
They do not look like servicemen, more like the saboteurs, whom you can find a lot in the city. But I am worried for my safety, so I do not approach them again.
That’s it. I need to go home. I am going to the bus stop again. No one is stopping in our direction. There are many enemies. So, everyone is scared. I cannot leave for another twenty minutes. I decide to walk. But this is not easy. There is a forest belt, the crossing of the highway “[...].” The street signals do not work. There is a lot of military equipment that I have not seen before. A forest belt again. Bloc post. I am left to walk three more kilometers to get home. I have to walk for 40 more minutes. Then I hear that someone is slowing down and is honking at me.
I got into the car. The driver was a woman. She took pity on me. She says she knows me and my adult sons. She is going to pick up her belongings, she moved to her daughter’s place in the city after hearing the first explosions. I do not remember her, but I am very thankful.
I got to my stop. I am running home.
My younger son called. He needed a laptop for work. I am asking him not to come. Our area in [...] is the most dangerous. We always hear shootings and some strange noises. But he is already in the taxi and he needs to work remotely. I am running to the bus stop with his laptop. I am waiting for him, so that he can quickly go back. I am nervous.
Here he is. I am giving him the laptop and seeing him off. But suddenly two scratched cars stop by me. I saw many of those in Donetsk oblast – while Zhygul of the first model, that is when I was volunteering at the Joined Forces Operation zone. It was them who turned our military to the enemies. My gut feeling was not wrong. Men get out of the car. One of them is local, others do not look Ukrainian. Their rosiness and behavior show that they are not locals. They are looking at the direction of the airport. I quickly ran home and called the police. They register my call. But after 40 minutes we hear the explosions at the airport. Maybe those were the fire spotters. They were not caught.
The airport does not operate anymore. There is no runway strip.
After a couple of days, my husband saw a few policemen going around our buildings looking for Illia, maybe the same one, but I do not know.
6.03.22 “Forgiveness Sunday”
My husband is from Zakarpattia. His sister called and invited us to come to her place, because it is not safe here. I cannot leave my pets and my boys in the city, and my husband refused to go without me. My older son’s wife – the son is fighting at war – agreed to go. We saw her off, and took her adult shepherd.
There were a lot of people at the railway station. Everyone is trying to leave. Due to technical issues, three evacuation trains were canceled. But then an additional train took those passengers, who were left at the railway station overnight, to [...]. Nastia was among them. She was standing on the train for 10 hours, there were no seats. She was hungry and thirsty. For some reason, the train stopped in Khmelnytskyi and all of the passengers (many of whom were with children) were told to get off and informed them that it was a terminal stop.
The people were lost and tired. But after two hours, one more train came and took them to Lviv.
I called my husband’s wife. Her adult daughter picked up the phone. She said: “Nastia should stay at some hostel in [...] or [...]. There are no trains or buses from Lviv running to their place. There is no gas”. I was surprised. I called the volunteers I know in Zakarpattia. They were also surprised. They said that the transportation is running as normal and there’s gas. Maybe my niece does not know something. But if needed, they will meet Nastia and she can stay with them.
Nastia came to [...]. There were a few times more people at the railway station than there were on [...]. But kind volunteers at the square near that station fed the people and made sure they warmed up. In less than an hour and a half, the girl was on her way to Chop.
Seven in the morning. Nastia got off the train and was on the bus to Khust. The driver agreed to take her all the way to the village. I called my husband’s sister. She sounded annoyed and gave the phone to her daughter. I informed her that they should meet my daughter-in-law in about an hour. She responded that they were not going to have her staying with them, because they do not have space for her and don’t even have a single pillow for her. I was confused. My husband’s sister has four little houses, and they have tourists there. They do not even have a cot for the brother’s daughter-in- law? My husband’s sister never called me again. She went to church. It is Forgiveness Sunday today. Maybe she went to pray for God to forgive her sins.
I called other relatives. They met the girl, fed her, and found a place for her to sleep. On the next day, Nastia quietly got up, took her luggage, and left for Poland. This is what they decided with her husband, my son, who is defending Ukraine. She messaged me that she left for abroad. We do not talk to my husband’s sister anymore. Why invite?
11.03.22 I work at the library.
It was the first time I went so far. One hour on the bus and I am at work. First time after the beginning of the war. No-one is here yet. I water the plants. I take everything I need for remote work at home. I am surprised by the fact that everything in [...] looks like it did before the war, only there are a few blog posts. People do not hide in bomb shelters every time as we do. And It is cozier here, in the center, as if there is no war.
I hug my colleagues and realized that I was lacking just this kind of normal communication.
13.03.22 Air Corridor.
All day, I feel shocked by the news, in front of the TV. The internet is very weak in our area. Only sometimes it works outside. We go to bed only after the sun goes down. It is dark. It is quiet. It is scary because of the silence. It is unusual. We get scared because of normal sounds. We get calls from my younger son multiple times over the night. He calls to let us know about the air-raid sirens. Street sirens do not work here. The air-raid sirens seem almost scheduled. 21.00, 12.00, 3.00, 6.00. People are now used to scattered sleep schedules. But it is impossible to get enough sleep. It always seems like something is flying over our heads. And sometimes, something is flying indeed, flying low, a few times the orcs were flying very low over our building in fighter aircrafts and helicopters. Thank God, they did not drop anything and were not shelling us. Our air force is almost not flying. It is not here yet. Unfortunately. We are dreaming for them to close our sky.
We are under the air corridor. During the air-raid sirens, we are hiding in the cellar with my husband, we hear the ‘rushist,’ bombing aircrafts from Crimea are flying to Ukraine and then back. We are in need of a powerful anti-aircraft system. We are happy when we learn that our guys have shot something. I can tell that sound from other explosions now.
16.03.22 Explosions in the city.
Today, it was for the first time that the explosions were heard in multiple areas of the city, not only close to our place. They damaged a site of architectural value of the 19th century – the building of [...] railway station. They also dropped bombs on the children’s botanical garden. It is unclear why.
Also, someone sent an email to the library administration. In the email, they complained about me – as if I am spreading disinformation and a military secret on Facebook about the blood transfusion center in [...]. This is funny because the information is reliable.
There is a hybrid and ideological war going on, so they are trying to harm patriots and volunteers, discredit them in front of the society. So they have got to me as well. The director did not understand and responded to the person who sent the email, so she “turned me in.” Now the orcs know where I work. It is clear. If [...] is captured, they will come for me, because they have the lists already. But this will never happen! I believe in our victory.
My family is hiding in our cellar during the air-raid siren.
I have lost count at this point of what day it is, what week. The 24th of February keeps repeating. It’s Groundhog Day. Every day, every night, we heard the loud sirens, and my husband and I hide in our basement. It is good that our basement (at least we call it so) is at our home and we don’t have to go outside. If our apartment does not stand after an airstrike, then we might never get out. But this is at least some sort of shelter. I cannot recover from Covid because it’s cold there. I keep coughing and feeling weak. I want to sleep all the time.
Evening. It is late. There is no light. The light masking is all around. Someone is calling. I have not talked to strangers in a while. Suddenly I hear the voice of Natalia the teacher – she was my partner for a project we worked on together with students.
She is anxiously telling me that her parents are in [...] in occupation. They do not want to leave. For the last while, my colleague, similar to me, couldn’t do anything, she was only watching the news on TV. She couldn’t comprehend what was going on. She is laughing: “Before, I used to get so exhausted. There were up to five events at our school daily. And now there is nothing. Would be better if I would be getting as exhausted again.”
Natalia has already started to work again and she started getting back to her duties, and now she is feeling better. I hung up and realized that I should come out of the stupor now too.
Yes! I started work again. No-one is here. It is incredibly quiet. Then a director came and an accountant. Air-raid siren. We decided to not go to the bomb shelter. That was wrong. We heard a loud explosion. The missile hit something. But it was not too far away. We later found out that the explosions were on the bridge over Dnipro River and Khortytsia island. We continued working.
My son who is in the military, who is defending us in the territorial defense wrote to me through Telegram: “Mom, I am cold, it is difficult for us. I do not know what is going to happen tomorrow. They are constantly bombing us from the aircrafts. I am exhausted. The wind is very strong. My eyes hurt”. I got worried. I could not sleep. I had so many different thoughts. I was praying.
17.00 Exactly at this time, my son called and asked annoyed: “Why did you close the gate? How can I get in?”
God has heard my prayer. Thank God, Thank God!
My son’s story
Him and the other guys who were with him were “kicked out to [...],” because they were not at the staff!!!
How was it?
A commandant’s company came to [...] (where they pushed the orcs out of and were strongly holding the defense there), they checked the lists. All of them, 40 people – were not on the list! All of our defenders are heroes, who were fighting for Zaporizhzhia oblast for a month. Those who were the first to stop the enraged enemy and even fight back two settlements! Without helmets, bulletproof vests, almost without food, water, simply with riffle guns and one tank for 100 kilometers – against a fully armed enemy, who has aviation, dozens of tanks, cars, artillery. THEY WERE NOT ON THE LISTS!
But this is our native land. The boys are motivated. They did not have the time to deal with the documents properly. There was no time. Otherwise, [...] would be captured the same as Kherson. But this way, the city is standing. There is also a marine city of Mariupol somewhere far away, the city I love so much where those I personally know serve in the Azov and in the 36th brigade of the naval infantry. Our seals are not letting the enemy push further, into [...].
I am continuing my narration. About the commandant’s company. They came and took away the weapons from the soldiers, and they were kicked out: “Go to [...] and figure it out!”
People, hello! Polohy raion. It’s 100 kilometers from the regional center?!
How should we go there? On foot?
“However you want! But you should not be here in half an hour!”
What can one say here?
The guys took a foreign produced car from the traitor who was helping the orcs (it was him who was hiding two military men form Dagestan in his cellar).
They are driving this car on the road. The car is being shot at from different directions, there is no glass in the windows, the rooftop is smashed, the tires are punched. Sometimes, they were hiding behind the bushes, they were running away from the car when the shooting from all directions started. But it was due to this car that my child and other military men could get to the Ukrainian block post.
My dear son. If only you could see him! He could not take care of himself for a month. He looked like an old gray-haired man because of the dirt and the beard he had grown.
By the Ukrainian block post there is a small store. The guys ran to get cigarettes and water. Each of them then bought and drank a pack of water. A young sales girl lost her ability to speak. She was watching the military men without saying a word.
I now go to work sometimes. But I don’t have the energy to talk, put on something nice, and enjoy life. I bought some luggage for myself. If the Russian army is close by, then maybe I will have to go. I have to get a basket for my cat. I don’t want to leave her. I watched the videos about Bucha. Poor people there were leaving their pets.
Today we buried Zhenka. Our smiling driver, who was never in a bad mood and with whom starting from 2017 we, as volunteers, would go to Donbas to support our soldiers with concerts, workshops, pierogies, some tasty things and other volunteer loads. Zhenka was a biology teacher at a medical college, he returned from the Anto-Terrorist Operation at that time. He had two children. But Zhenka could not just sit and not help! He is always on the move! He had a minibus which we call “The Canary '' because it is in yellow and green colors and is always in front of our passenger mini-bus. He never sleeps, like other drivers. He either prepared firewood, or is boiling kulish with the guys, or he is talking to the military.
At the memorial ceremony, I met his mother. She is just like her son. Valentyna told me that they would not let him go to war. But he went to a different military enlistment unit and became a platoon commander. He died heroically together with almost all of his platoon. The locals turned them in in the Donetsk region. They just got there and didn’t even have time to dig trenches.
I still cannot believe that he is dead. There were so many flowers. There were so many people he had known. He was a light human being who loved life.
Today, my younger son (a student) was let go from his work. The company doesn’t exist anymore. He was doing his internship for three months. He passed the competition. He was very proud of his first workplace. Now. Out of all four of us, it is only me who is working! A bread-winner mother.
60% of the region is occupied. The mood is bad. But everything around me is blooming and spring is gradually coming.
Sometimes, there are explosions. There are dead people, and wounded ones. We constantly hear the artillery at work. It is scary. Especially at night.
My cottage in [...] village is constantly under shelling. Maybe it’s not even there anymore? Just recently, they have said on the news that a missile hit three people and killed three people, who were just planting something in their garden. I will probably not go there this year.
It was my husband’s birthday yesterday. We couldn’t get together – there was a long curfew. Public transportation wasn’t running. We couldn’t go out from our house for over a day, except for going to the bomb shelter.
My sons came to congratulate their father today. This is the first family holiday in the last four years, when we all got together. Damned war! But today we forgot about it, at least for some time!
I have been working offline for two days. Half of our work team is abroad. And others have started coming to work. People are getting back to normal life! My colleagues work at the humanitarian headquarter, they help the displaced people. There are many people from Mariupol, from our region. Unfortunately, I do not go there because of my disability, but I am glad that they go to volunteer there.
I am in contact with my colleagues online. Some of them relocated to the West of Ukraine, others are in Poland, Italy. We share our experience, impressions, and we make the first steps for mutual work during the war. We plan events.
Finally, people have come to us. I am allowed to work with a small group! But these are real living people! We cannot talk enough. There are so many stories! So many shared emotions and worries! We are making plans for the future again! Life goes on!
I do not react to aid-raid sirens anymore! I do not hide. I stopped worrying. I don’t know, maybe this is bad? But I am tired of that. I understand that there is war. I see how many dead soldiers are being brought to be buried at the cemetery. But I want to live!