“I had never thought it would ever happen to me. But since it did, what can I do?” 21-year-old Nastia, who lost her limb but not hope.
The explosion that took Olena Viter’s left leg also took her son, 14-year-old Ivan, a budding musician. Her husband Volodymyr buried him, along with another boy killed in the same blast, under a guelder rose bush in their garden. Amid the fighting, they couldn’t get to the cemetery.
“How am I going to live without Ivan? He will remain in my heart forever, like the fragment that hit him,” she said. When she’s alone, Olena cries.
Bombs rained down on Olena’s village of Rozvazhiv, in the Kyiv region, Ivan and four others died; Olena was one of about 20 who were wounded.
At first, “I was thinking, ‘Why did God leave me alive?’,” said Olena, 45, her soft voice breaking. Hearing Ivan was dead, she begged a neighbor to get his rifle and shoot her.
But Volodymyr pleaded with her, saying he couldn’t live without her.
Now, she endures the devastation of the loss of her child, and the physical pain of the loss of her leg, cut below the knee.
“Every day I get used to some new type of pain. I am thinking what kind of new pain will I see in the future,” she said.
She has yet to accept either of her losses.
“I am still not accepting myself as I am now,” Olena said. “I really liked to dance. I was doing sports. I don’t know, I need to learn.” She can’t yet imagine what it will be like to walk again.
Perhaps, Olena said, her life was spared because she was meant to do something, to help others, perhaps as a volunteer.
“At the moment, I don’t know what I would want to do. I should keep searching. … I must learn how to live. How? I do not know yet.”
For some civilians, maimed while going about their lives in a war that already terrified them, the struggle can be much harder.
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