Sun streaming in the windows. Snow glittering on rooftops. Joan Baez singing Where Have all the Flowers Gone in German. Headlines about the growing possibility of war in Ukraine. My heart hurts.
I wrote those lines yesterday. This morning, the possibility has become reality. I trim the ends of wilting flowers as I listen to NPR and CNN. The shock in Europe is palpable. As is the fear. Putin appears unhinged. We had an unhinged president so we know that’s a real thing. He seems to be threatening nuclear war. They’re trying to seize the Chernobyl plant. Poland, Lithuania and Moldova are increasing their military readiness. AP has released an aerial photo of a long stream of traffic trying to leave Kyiv. It looks like a city of modern apartment blocks and skyscrapers, just like any other city. In another photo, taken in another city, people are huddling in a bleak shelter, trying to stay safe from Russian shelling. The New York Times site has footage of helicopters dropping flaming bundles of death and destruction onto fields and villages. Thick black plumes of smoke rise from the earth.
With each new once almost unthinkable event, we reel. Knowing that a global pandemic happened a hundred years ago and is once again a possibility is not the same as living through one. Knowing that there are ugly racist beliefs hiding behind the American flag is not the same as witnessing tiki torches in Charlottesville. Knowing that rightwing crazies are prepared to destroy our country is not the same as experiencing the horrors of January 6. I could go on.
By tonight, Russia has taken Chernobyl. Thousands in Russia itself are protesting the war. President Biden has unveiled stronger sanctions. I went to Trader Joe’s and bought myself more flowers.