It is the children who make me cry. Their sweet innocent faces tucked into a mother’s shoulder, their tiny hands in pink and brown and green mittens holding on to stuffed bears and bunnies, toy trucks, books and backpacks stuffed with the few worldly possessions they can carry.
It is the children who make me cry and the scenes of once tidy bedrooms torn apart by missiles invading, blowing out windows and scattering belongings, shredded by the blast, to kingdom come, that make me cry more.
It is the children who make me cry and the scenes of destruction and the photos of soldiers carrying an older woman across a bombed-out bridge as groups of mothers and children and young boys and older men pick their way across, to safety? To an unknown future?
It is the unknown future that makes me stop and say a prayer and light a candle and promise to not speak of war, to not hold enmity in my heart, to not let anger hold me trapped in believing all of this is about all of ‘them’, the ones who invaded, the ones who fire missiles and lob grenades and drive tanks along residential streets firing into homes where once a child played with her favourite pink bunny while her parents sat tucked together on the couch in front of a TV watching SHUM perform at the Eurovision song contest and cheering and hooting for their beloved Ukraine to win.
It is the ‘us and them’ that makes me feel hopeless. That makes me want to scream, “There is no us and them!” What we do to one we do to another. We are one world. One planet and what we do to them we are doing to one another. And in the tearing apart of their lives we are tearing our world apart.
It is the children who make me cry.
The child and mother have navigated the broken beams and busted concrete of the bridge now. They have boarded a train to somewhere west away from the fighting, the fear, the terror, leaving behind the place they called home, the flowered curtains the mother made and hung with care on the windows of the bedroom where the little girl slept beneath a comforter covered in giant sunflowers, the comforter her mother made to match the curtains that now lay shredded in the glassless window of the roofless house on the street where they once lived.
They are travelling west, leaving behind the life they knew, leaving behind the husband and father they love who must stay to fight this force of destruction that has rolled in carrying with it death and destruction.
They are travelling west.
It is the child who makes me cry, her face tucked into her mother’s shoulder, blue eyes wide, a little pink bunny grasped tightly in one hand as she looks out from the safety of her mother’s arms at a world she does not understand.
It is the wondering of how she will ever make sense of all of this that makes me weep.