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I wrote this letter ...

July 26

P.S. Dear son, I wrote this letter almost a year ago, but haven’t sent it. You’d already been on the zero line [military codename for “zero dividing line” — Ed.] for several months. You knew that your mother and I love you even without it, and I didn’t want to add to you any bit of my anxiety, so I decided not to send it, even didn’t finish it, I was going to rewrite it, and recall a lot of things. For eight months you were constantly on the frontline, saying that you didn’t have enough people to rotate. The rotation should’ve been in April, but the russians invaded in February. You unwillingly spoke about intense shellings, knew that replacement won’t come soon, but confidently claimed that they won’t pass through you.

You’ve become quite an adult, you’re 19, but you’re already a veteran. You rightfully fold your bucket hat, joke about my ammunition, and give advice to your older brother before his combat raids, but you are joyful because of a Snickers. They let you go home for a few days, but we saw each other for only a few hours, and on Thursday you went back there again.

Yesterday you were gone. I will not get any of your “+”, and I desperately want to talk with you.


September 10, 2021

Every morning, waking up at dawn, I send you a short message “?”

While waiting for the answer, I’m automatically getting ready for the job, having breakfast, and walking the dog. Then I get your answer “+” and my day starts. Sometimes you’re faster and send me your “4.5.0” [military codename for “everything’s alright” — Ed.]

It’s hard to ask you for some new photos, but on those rare ones you send, with sorrow, I see how you’re changing. You’re still such a dear person to me, but you’re becoming more and more unfamiliar. You stopped folding your bucket hat, imitating those cool warriors, don’t show your weapon in the picture, and look differently into the camera, the look of a child is disappearing. You’re growing up. At 18 you’ve become more adult than lots of others older than you. It’s common for us to think of adulthood as being able to buy alcohol and cigarettes legally. Such bullsh*t! They said that they would not send you to the frontline until you’re 20, but you’re already there. On these days, thinking about you, I remembered that for you it’s for the second time. In 2017 you persuaded commanders to let you join the 20th Legion, although you were under 16.

Some people, having known about you, are saying that it’s too early, asking mother and me why did we allow you to go, and didn’t prohibit it. What can you say about it? I don’t even try to. You completely refused to waste one and a half years pouring it down the drain rather than volunteering for three years. Could it go another way? I understand that no. Because otherwise all that you’ve seen, heard, done, and will do would lose its meaning.

Your months on zero are already an eternity. I started to forget how it was earlier and don’t want to guess how it will be. I’m just waiting for your “+” every morning. I love you very much, son. I’m proud of you, I’m afraid for you.

Ukrainian Text by Dmytro Vorobienko. Translated into English by Ukrainianvancouver team — Sep 20, 2022

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