There’s truly one and only place you’ll mark the height of your children. Nothing compares to the peace of a simple home with a peaceful family in it, that is safe and stable. I haven't traveled all across Ukraine, but now I got to see a lot of these places for the first time. The difference being that now I get to see my birth country’s free and fertile lands decorated with snapped trees, scooped out ground, leveled dwellings of ordinary people, and their faces with misery seeping through, no matter how adapted they’ve become.

warning. I was given a visitor visa later that day. My own parents never called or texted me - they are those who didn’t really allow themselves to believe anything of the sort was possible. They still don’t talk to me about any of it. They still shelter me - their child, their blood, life they created to create a life full of pure,

never ending love, for me. I can’t be luckier.

My name is Natasha, and I was born, raised and residing in the Kharkiv region. I’ve had quite a textbook life getting married and having children after college. Exactly like many other families in Ukraine, where life is simple and hard work is an unspoken part of it. Ukraine - where simple life and hard work are celebrated in a circle of family, friends, neighbors, coworkers. Ukrainian people make a strong team of unrelated brothers and sisters.

The thing about my own family that is different from others’ is that my husband is an American. When the tensions at the border started building up, we just held our breath meticulously refreshing the news thread. It was November 2021. Our family was considering related insights and suggestions from the US side of our family: my husband’s family and friends were expressing great concern for something that was, at that time, a hypothetical, possible, unimaginable to become a reality, forecast scenario of a full invasion. Just as soon as there was a way, my two children and husband left our Kharkiv region home we’ve been improving for years, for the United States. It was a well-disguised Christmas trip for my 1 and 3 y.o. Myself, I had to stay back and work my way to reunite sometime. It took two months for the events to develop to the point when the U.S. embassy securely removed their presence from Ukrainian territory, making those like me seek solutions in Poland.

On Feb 24, 2022, waiting on updates from a U.S. ambassador, in my Warsaw AirBnB, remaining in the state of unknown (while my mother, my father, my aunt and uncle are there - clearly rooted in my hometown), my childhood friend calls me early in the morning. She asked me where I was, it didn’t make any difference for her that I was in Poland. Holding her 1 y.o. Tight, she was scared, the type of scared when you can’t be alone, the type of scared where you’re looking to be close to someone in case you don’t have long left to live. Her brief description of what’s happening was that the walls were shaking, the windows were rattling out of the frames, a horror movie, they were being bombed. The war was there, and it had begun without 

not expected from a neighbor like russia. They weren’t prepared. And even so, two full years later, they make work what seems impossible, and that peaceful warrior spirit alone shouldn’t be overlooked. Ukraine has so far earned respect and deserved support, the kind of support which any of it turns out as life changing.

To me it means only that my own children will be raised and parented in the manner I was shown how to. But, unlike a lot of the children born in Ukraine, mine will be raised 5.691 mi away from the sounds of lethal danger, (literally) underground schools, warzone lifestyle, hell on Earth. Manmade hell. My story is an exception.

According to the most recent data, the total death toll of children whose lives were taken by this incredibly unfair war, is 540. This number comes from tangible evidence available, which means there will not be less, but only more. Killed or stolen, not to mention trauma-shaped if alive. This number throws me as a mother, as a woman, in a place of active mourning, yet leaving me to accept the new reality, and to remain as grateful as possible for the health and safety of my children.

Ukrainians are a team, or, as it goes “it takes a village…”. There has never been anything outstanding to have to ask for, from other governments, that the Ukrainian government along with the Ukrainian people couldn’t or wouldn’t make work. Until something happened that, by a brotherhood mentality, was