Thursday, July 21, 2011

Remembering a friend: this week we had a hit again from the Ukraine

We would have lunch together, we three. We were all mental health counselors, but there was more – and oh, so much less. We only spoke of the immediate, this woman with a deeply saddened face.

We did know she had grown up in the Ukraine. I asked her once if she would like to go back for a visit. The shake of her head was almost invisible; her voice had no words to share.

We knew that once there had been a large German community in the Ukraine. Some survived the starvation imposed by Stalin; many did not.

When the German invasion came, we know from Annelie’s cousin they had been greeted by many as liberators. When the Russian final advance came, many fled. Annelie has heard many such stories.

Our friend’s husband was a quiet, good man; in Europe as a draftee he must have been a quiet, good soldier. Somehow, amid the flood tides of after-war, they somehow met and she became a war bride. In coming here her life was better by far than for so many.

When we got to know each other she was already associated with mental health work. She was a caring, empathetic woman, giving to many out of resources of which we knew little, other than she was a Christian in belief and practice, active in her faith community.

The traumas she must have known have now receded into the past, remembered increasingly by only the few, increasingly replaced by more recent traumas, other saddened faces. When I looked at the “audience” under “statistics,” however, there was that word, Ukraine, and I – we – remembered. Her life was a witnessing that no matter how terrible the events, there is a Creative Power that resources some, and that can also be true for the many.

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