Day 47 of the war… Feelings of frustration and helplessness abound. On Day 45, we got some bad news from our friend Oksana (fictitious name). She has been our Asistenta for some years now, and each time she comes she relieves us from household chores with her calming presence. We chat about this and that, and since the war has started, we ask her each week about her family. Each time, she tells us they were safe, and that they did not want to leave Leopolis. A few weeks ago, that changed – they still did not want to leave, but were preparing to do so. The invader’s alleged retreat was being met with suspicion by the locals and they were expecting the worst. Everyday we read about the “military briefing” and the news keep getting worse and worse. Corpses found, women raped, children killed. On Saturday, we got a call from Oksana saying she did will not be able to come to work this week as she is going to Poland, her son had died. Was that near Kyiv? Or in Kramatorsk where a missile hit a train station? Was Oksana going to retrieve the body? To fetch her grandkids? We dared not ask too much. We were used to Oksana’s cool, calm composure, her tears left us overwhelmed. We only told her that we were very, very sorry and asked her to let us know if we can help in any way.

We went on with our night, a bit in shock over the news. We felt waves of sadness and helplessness. Finally, for us too, the war had become personal… We had a name and face to attach to one of the many, many casualties. It made us feel lost and depressed. We passed by the bars and looked at the people enjoying their weekend, seemingly oblivious to what was happening, and it all seemed frankly pointless.

On Sunday, another Ukrainian friend posted a photo of her house before, and after a missile struck its roof. We had eaten walnuts from that tree which was no longer there. Her dad did not want to leave Kyiv.

I now know why Europe feels so personally about this war… everyone here knows and loves at least one Ukrainian. It is like it’s happening next door to neighbours. We can almost hear the bombs.

This is the first time I am living through a war like this. Suddenly, it does not seem so anonymous. We have not even started to recover from the pandemic. And now this… Markets are volatile, inflation is rampant, food security is threatened, other variants are surfacing… I frankly do not see an easy end to all of this.

Winter is coming… and we have to build our resilience. We have to live for hope, to never give up on our fight for what’s good. It will get worse before it gets better. This time will shape us…

Hay que seguir… / We fight on…