• Номер запису / Number of record: 37-26-02
  • Автор(-ка) / Author: Olha
  • Дата запису / Date of record: February 24, 2022
  • Регіон / Region: Kyiv

I slept through the beginning of the war…

At 5 a.m. on the 24th of February, there was an explosion outside. The car alarms went nuts. I jumped out of bed. Everything felt foggy. I was exhausted from all the hospital visits and sleepless nights I’d had with my son, who’d been sick. He’s not yet three years old.

My brain shut off and I fell asleep again. But we were up at 7.40 a.m., this time because of the sirens roaring outside. My husband tried to comfort me by saying, «It's just an ambulance».

I hopped out of bed and grabbed my phone. I had two missed calls at 5 a.m.

«It's war! Go pack, quick!»

My stomach crumpled into a ball, my throat was parched. My husband went to check the news, and I rushed to the wardrobe to pack.

«My friends would never call at 5 a.m., it’s a freaking war,» I hissed at my husband, who stubbornly refused to rush.

«You'll wake up Bodia,» he replied calmly. In stressful situations, people fight, flee or freeze.

My reaction was to flee. I rushed to grab the suitcases, started throwing random things in.

I kept getting messages, «We've already left. Where are you?»

It seemed as if everybody else had been packed and ready since 5 a.m., and it was just me who slept through the beginning of the war. I slept through the freaking war! How is this possible? At 13.30 came a whistling noise from the outside. «Get away from the window,» I didn’t recognize my own voice.

Boom!!! Right next to where we were…

«You're scaring the kid. It was probably our own [air defense system] intercepting a missile. It was probably flying towards Vasylkiv»; my husband still remained calm.

I was scared, so scared that I kept drinking water but felt as thirsty as ever. Should we stay or should we leave? Where is the safest place to be right now?

My husband finally took the suitcases down and put them in the car. As we drove, things felt a bit better. «We should probably head for Poland. We’ll just go to the village on the way and get some food,» my husband said.

My husband’s cousin and his family lived in the village. The family decided to join us. Now our Ford was quite crowded, four grown-ups and three two-year-olds. We changed plans and drove towards Chisinau.

It was almost morning when I, my sister-in-law, and three children went on foot through the border crossing point in Mohyliv-Podilsky. My brother’s uncle met us there. We stayed at his place for a few days. Sleepless days. Surviving on sedatives. Every time I heard an ambulance, my heart dropped.

Then my parents arrived by car and together we drove to the Romanian border to meet up with my brother who was on his way from Spain. A long, 4 000-kilometer trip lay ahead.

Finally, we reached Málaga, the city that was going to be our new… temporary… home. The city near the sea that I had dreamt about before the war. Although in those dreams I had always been together with my husband and the sky over Ukraine was peaceful.

Now we’re visitors in a foreign country who hurriedly packed their lives into a pair of suitcases. We’re refugees… Surrounded by a foreign language and foreign landscapes. I’m longing for Ukraine 24/7.

Every day it’s getting more difficult to reply to my son’s question «Why are we here?» and to hear him say «I want to be home, in Ukraine» or «I'll punch all the bad guys and then dad will be back».

Olha, Kyiv