As Life Goes On


I was tutoring English to a young Ukrainian student over Zoom. We had just finished talking about the different genres in film and were about to discuss each of our favorite movies. Suddenly she looked down at her phone, and said very calmly with a straight face,  “I’m sorry, but I have to go.” 

Foolishly, I was confused and asked why. Dead calm, she responded, “There is a missile alert and I have to go downstairs.”

I immediately told her to go, so she went. Earlier that week, I had texted her to check if her week was going well. She had said there was a missile alert then as well, and buildings within her area had actually been destroyed. Shortly after she left the call, I made sure she was okay and asked her how often she received missile alerts. She answered two to three times a week.

Two to three times a week, her city in Ukraine is under direct attack. Two to three times a week, ordinary people have to take shelter for their lives. Two to three times a week, children are being fired upon. Two to three times a week. This is not even in the regions that are suffering the most. These people are ordinary people. They wake up, go to school, go to work, eat, sleep. 

Throughout our entire conversation, she stayed completely calm, even laughing at points. The courage the Ukrainians hold within themselves and the reserve they have shown in the face of these odds is magnificent. I can’t emphasize enough how much they have gone through. Around 30,000 people have been killed, and 14 million people have been displaced. They’ve been taken from their home and forced to leave because an opposing nation who has no right whatsoever is encroaching upon their land. They have suffered needlessly and gone through so much loss, yet they are still standing strong. They are still living their lives. Their resolve is not only a stunning display of fortitude, but it is also an example to the rest of the world. Many people within our nation are not in the position and do not have the resources to help, but some of us do. And, even if we cannot help, the least I hope is that this is a reminder to us about the suffering within our world, a reminder about our own lives, and how even if we can live with a fraction of the strength that our brothers and sisters across the world live with now, it is enough. It is enough.