My life is divided into before and after. I used to be a happy kid with big ambitions, plans and dreams. And now, like my family, I only have one thing – today.
My name is Sue and I had to leave the country where I was born and my beloved hometown Vinnytsia in the center Ukraine, and leave behind many people who are close to my heart. I am currently living in a hotel in Bray, Co. Wicklow and am doing as well as I can in this situation.
I will tell you my story of what happened.
Back to the beginning, that February 24th.
My morning didn’t start with coffee. I was woken up by my mother’s anxious voice and handshakes. The first words I heard instead of “good morning” were “we’re at war, get ready”.
Shivers ran down my spine and goose bumps covered my skin. At this point we had already packed a suitcase for emergencies. I knew that the situation in my country could deteriorate at any moment.
But it wasn’t until I heard those early morning words that the war had begun that I realized that no one could ever be ready for it.
Perhaps most of all I thank my parents for my upbringing – for keeping a cool head in unforeseen situations. No matter what happens, the only thing that can save me and those around me is prudence.
So it was most logical to split the responsibilities. Mine cooked breakfast for my younger siblings and packed our bags. My mother went out for some important errands.
The night before, people had received a notification from the government about the possible introduction of the state of emergency. And the worst thing is that on the same night, when the whole country was sleeping peacefully, riots came and martial law was declared.
Since it was a weekday morning, the children went to school and the horrified parents ran to the store to gather essentials in case the town was attacked.
A look out the window was enough to understand that no Ukrainian would see peaceful skies or have peace of mind again in the near future.
While my mother was gone, I watched as the nearest grocery stores reached a terrible mess in no time. People didn’t just go home with boxes and bags full of groceries, but with whole shopping trolleys. Children joined their parents in carrying boxes as well. You could see the horror in her eyes.
I read the news all morning. The newsfeed grew darker by the minute. Not only the local channels or official sources of information, but also the online contributions from civilians.
Somewhere another explosion could be heard and then someone again posted a photo of flying fighter jets or rockets. As I read all the horrors happening in different parts of the homeland, I heard the first supersonic plane fly right over my house.
Everything shrank and I seemed to freeze for a moment. Before I had time to pull myself together, a second flew over and a third, followed by a horrific explosion.
The window in the kitchen slammed against the wall. Everything in the apartment was shaking. The first thing I thought of was my mother. She didn’t answer my calls.
But I didn’t even have time to cry. I understood that two small children were sleeping in the next room and I had to think about what to do next.
Therefore, and this may sound strange, I buried my own mother in my mind. Then I started flipping through all the thoughts in my head: How can I get my brother and sister somewhere safe considering I’m also under 18?
The only option was my father, with whom I had no communication for several years. The most important thing for me at that moment was to go to a far away place so that the children would be safe.
It took two minutes at most to think through all the details. Then, when I heard a call from my mom, it felt like the weight of the whole world had fallen off my shoulders.
As I packed my suitcase, I cried with happiness and gratitude to the whole world, God, the universe or something else, that everything was like this.
The next and no less difficult step was a conversation with my brother and sister. When they woke up, they didn’t understand why a suitcase was laid out in the middle of the room and why people were screaming in the street.
I had to choose my words so that the children wouldn’t get scared, panicked and psychologically damaged by these difficult circumstances.
A deep salute to my mother for keeping us calm and collected and for teaching us to be in control of ourselves even in very difficult situations.
It happens that difficult times come, but the main thing is that I live. I have the strength to keep going.
As we drove into the unknown, I watched one city give way to another outside the window—forests and meadows of incredible beauty, but never home.
And honestly, not now, but later, a month or two, there will be no going back.
When we arrived in Poland, we were welcomed by incredible people – family. They accepted us as if we had always lived with them and were part of their lives.
I had to leave my relatives to go to another city for a few days, there I received the message: “We are moving to Ireland.”
I won’t hide that I was surprised. Who would have thought that one of the best things would happen in such a heartbreaking situation.
Now I’m in Ireland, a place called Bray. A small town with a big heart. How can a city have a heart?
It’s very simple – people create exactly the energy of a big heart.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/war-ended-my-happy-childhood-but-i-have-found-a-town-with-a-big-heart-in-ireland-41535940.html “The war ended my happy childhood, but I have found a city with a big heart in Ireland”