The story of a gift.
Today is exactly two weeks since the tragedy in Dnipro. The funeral of the 17-year-old Maksym Bogutskiy took place. Time to go to the wake.
All around is a cemetery. Dozens of pairs of eyes are watching from the monuments… and we are standing with a green apron. Dmytro (45) and Tetiana (47) are lingering to show it to me. It’s the only thing that the couple has left as a memory to their son—17-year-old Maksym who died that day at home. The parents did not die because they were out visiting people. I first met Dmytro and Tetiana on the second day of the rescue effort-they had such great hope in their eyes.
They showed me their apartment on the 7th floor-the kitchen, to be exact (all that remained). And they said: «You see, there is still a green apron hanging on the refrigerator-the gift our son bought with his first stipend.» The next day they persuaded the rescuers to retrieve it from the wreckage.
The couple bought that apartment, with the view of the Dnipro River, 10 years ago, and they loved it. Nothing remained from the apartment or the car. All the things-and most importantly the photographs-turned into ashes.
The woman says: «We were a very close family. Maksym was with us all the time. I always thought how lucky I was with my son. He had a wonderful sense of humor, loved to cook and learn new things.
At the funeral, there were childhood friends, as well as new friends from Polytechnic University where Maksym was a first-year student this year (in Programming). Everyone said the same thing-about what a kind and sensitive boy he was.
The funeral itself was difficult-Maksym was covered with a sheet. Tetiana often held on to the coffin, looked at her son’s portrait, and eerily smiled at some of her thoughts. Everyone around was sobbing, but she kept saying «You can’t cry. Do not cry, Maskym never allowed that.» At one point, Tetiana almost fainted, her husband barely managed to hold her up… Towards the end, even the priests could not hold back tears…
For me, that story is about the bottomless sorrow of war that takes everything away from people-their child, their home, their belongings, and even all of their photographs at once. All that remained from that «other life» is that green apron.
Translated by Natalya Barden