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Abigail B. Calkin

A Blog of Flashbacks

Ukraine Is Crying

May 2022


I have some friends in Ukraine and, yes, Ukraine is crying. I see tears in the eyes of those I do not see today and have not seen for ten years. I see tears in the eyes of strangers I’ve never met and will never meet. I hear their wracked sobs and see tears rolling down their cheeks. My heart aches every day for them. I have lived in a place with tornado sirens going off but not with the sounds of war’s sirens. Tornado sirens do not go off night after night, day after day, night after night.

This is a message from someone I know in Ukraine. I don’t know where she is at the moment. I don’t know where any of my Ukrainian friends are. Are they home or have they gone to western Ukraine or one of the countries taking in these refugees? Or are they living in a metro station deep underground?

I have been several different places in Ukraine—eastern, western, northern, and southern. I have been there when it was a part of the USSR, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic. I have also met people who have never lived anywhere but in a free Ukraine.

This is from one of my friends to whom Ukraine is home. I asked if I could use it for one of my blogs and received the answer yes. I now think of it as a found poem and will soon put it in that form.

by a Ukrainian friend

There is no safe place in Ukraine, there is no Ukrainian who is ok. And I am not ok….
russian invasion has stolen my home, my life, my dreams, my plans, my future, my peace.
Should I get used to this new reality and build my life in these new circumstances being at war? NO!
Should I adjust to living under constant air sirens for the rest of my life? NO!
Should I stop dreaming and planning my happy future? NO!
I should live in peace, at home, in love!
I want to live in my free and peaceful Ukraine as it always was. The country of free and brave people as we always were.
The country of justice and respect, culture and traditions, spirits and inspirations.
But before we should destroy every single creature which crawled on our land and ruin the entire empire of murderers.
Ukraine is brave! Ukraine will win! Ukraine is invincible! Our warriors are gods! But we need more heavy arms!
Only then my heart will start beating again with peace~love~dream~laugh~dance~life….

I think of Aleppo in Syria and wonder why people are so cruel to one another. I think of the refugees from too many places on our planet. I think of the pictures I’ve seen of Syrian children injured or killed. I think of the adults dead in the streets of Ukrainian towns and cities. I think of the money too many countries spend on arms and what better use we could make of that money. We could feed people, clothes them, improve their health care. We could teach our fellow citizens to read, to write, to grow their own crops.

I listen to my husband every day as he worries about what is going on in the world, be it yesterday’s or today’s Afghanistan, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, or Ukraine. When he first came back from Vietnam, he worried about that country. He described how beautiful it was, how gentle the people were.

There are people who live in these countries that are attacked. It doesn’t matter to me whether it’s the Natives of North America, the people of Vietnam or Syria, or people on the continent of Africa who have lived in these places for millennia. Too often they attack one another, their neighbors, their friends. I remember seeing a film about Sarajevo and how Muslims, Jews, and Christians lived peacefully in mixed neighborhoods, until someone decided that it should not be that way. I don’t know who those someones are across the world, those someones who fight their neighbors or people at a distance.

I remember in 2003 before we invaded Iraq. I consulted at Riverside Indian School in Oklahoma. When there one January, jets were a constant noise in their practice sorties before deployment. My brother-in-law spoke of military vehicles along the rim of his Nevada rangeland. Alaska Airline 737s come to our small town in summer to bring the tourists. They fly over town daily for about three months. I grew used to those noises.

A few days ago, a jet flew overhead, not once but three times doing touch-and-goes. As I heard the first one, I went outside to look. It was far noisier than a 737. Then it came again. On the third go, it flew directly across the clearing above our house. Grey. No visible insignia from the ground. Far bigger and far noisier than any commercial plane. I went back inside and told my husband it must be a C-130. Curious enough, I called our local airport to ask. She told me it was a C-17. Where would it have come from, I thought? Anchorage, 525 air miles away. There is a joint base there. First time in 25 years that’s happened. It was not just any touch and go. What are we preparing to do just in case? Terror filled every speck of my body for a few seconds. Yet here I stand in the safety of the woods of Alaska, quivering for that moment, yet unable to imagine what it feels like to hear, see, smell, taste, and feel this day after day.

I feel like a child to say it is not fair, but as an adult I still say it is not fair. What is wrong with getting along? I say that reminds me of Rodney King’s statement: Can’t we all just get along? Individual people and families have enough to worry about in daily living that no one needs to go to war. We are all sentient and verbal. We need to talk to solve problems.

What occurs when we fight instead of talk is that we learn to dislike. No, too weak a word, we learn to hate the other. We make the situation worse not better. No one, no one, wins in any war.

Yes, Ukraine is crying. Syria is still crying. Iraq is still crying. Native Americans and Canada’s First Nations’ peoples are still crying.

Just stop. Please stop. We must learn to get along before we all cry. Before we destroy our planet.

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