April 30, 2022
Mama is gone…
Blew up on a mine in Mariupol…
Papa brought her remains home on a cart…
That is all that is known…
There is still no connection. We received bits of information through multiple sources… don't even have the date of death.
Don’t message me please. Papa stayed there by himself.
May 27, 2022
All this time, there has been no connection with the parents. Today, May 27, we learned that Mama died on March 31.
A month after this began.
June 20, 2022
Only today, June 20, can I finally share the horror that happened to our family.
Mama and Papa walked along the shore to receive humanitarian aid and find a place to connect with us. Papa was following Mama. 10:00. An explosion. Mama stepped on a mine. The blast threw Papa backward. It hit him in the chest. His chest hurt for a long time after that. His ability to see sharply diminished. The damage was greater to the right eye. A chain with the cross was torn off his chest from the explosion. When he came to, he ran over to Mama. Her legs were completely gone. Blown away. She asked him to help her sit up. He sat her up. Calmly, she told him that she feels hot. He took off her outerwear. She asked to have a drink. Papa gave her water; she took the first sip but could not take another sip.
10:08. Mama died of blood loss before Papa’s eyes. The last 8 minutes of her life, Papa kissed her and talked to her.
He lacked the strength to pick her up and carry her home. Constant bombardments, sitting in the cellar, the absence of normal food all weakened Papa during that month. The day before, the bomb fell in the yard and Papa was shell-shocked from the explosion. That whole month Mama sat in the cellar with the Bible in her hands and prayed. Papa went home to get the cart, came back to load Mama onto the cart, and the whole day-until evening-pulled her home on the sinking sand. For two nights, Mama’s body was at home. He could not delay any longer. Papa found cellophane outside, wrapped Mama in it, and loaded her onto the cart. None of the neighbors agreed to help bury her because there were fierce battles outside. Papa said that he had no more fear and the horror they experienced is not even possible in the movies.
Under the shelling, he went over to the first tank and asked to be let through so he could bury his wife. The soldier gave the go-ahead and he was allowed to pass through. He got to the cemetery with Mama on the cart. The graves were all turned over from the explosions. He pulled the bag with Mama on the ground. Near the grave of Mama’s father, Papa began digging a new grave. The soldiers began shooting at him. In response, he yelled for them to aim better.
Dug a hole and filled it.
Papa is 72 years old.
He now visits Mama’s grave every day and brings her fresh flowers from town. At home he speaks with her portrait. He misses her greatly. The image of what happened to her is constantly before his eyes. He no longer sleeps at night.
On the phone, he tells us this story over and over again. The other day, when he was talking about it, he started to cry. It was the first time that I heard Papa cry.
At this time, Papa remains in Mariupol. He does not want to leave. He has his beloved 3 dogs and 4 cats there. All the time, the animals went down to the cellar and sat there with him during bombardments. Even I had trouble going down those stairs, let alone large dogs.
For 4 months, there has been no water, gas, connection, and electricity there. With great effort, we managed to get him a connection. He is the only one on the street who has a connection. And the connection that he is able to get is horrible. You can’t hear very well and sometimes we are unable to connect with him for several days. He feels relief after talking to us. He feels a strong sense of guilt for not being able to protect Mama.
Life there now is like the Stone Age. Starvation. He says he can no longer look at pasta. Humanitarian aid is rare and insufficient. In this heat, Papa has to cook food on an open fire. That is very difficult at his age; besides, everything spoils quickly. Cats and dogs have become very skinny. Dirty.
Papa loves to read. During sleepless nights, he is able to read thanks to the kind people who brought him candles.
There is another horrific moment caused by my sister who lives in Russia. But I do not have the strength to talk about it now.
Four months of helplessness and horror have taken its toll on me and my family. My health has suffered and needs to be restored…
Mama’s name was Yelena Vassilievna. She was 68 years old. For 30 years, she worked as a school teacher. She and Papa raised 3 children.
September 15, 2022
Papa died today. Less than 6 months after Mama’s tragic death before his eyes. We could not and still can’t go to the occupied territory for Mama’s funeral and Papa’s burial. We don’t even know where he was buried. For a whole day, the occupiers' militia did not come to register death and take the body. My heart was breaking over him lying at the building entrance, and hungry dogs could rip his body apart.
The neighbors found the body.
In Kyiv, my DNA sample was taken. After de-occupation, bodies will be exhumed and there will be a search for his burial place.
Very painful. In 7 months, I’ve experienced the deaths of 7 relatives and people close to me. I don’t know how to deal with that.
I am sobbing as I write this.
Don’t write me personally.
Translated by Natalya Barden