Photo: A woman reacts as she says goodbye to her serviceman husband before he leaves for the frontline, in Uzhhorod, Ukraine, April 26. REUTERS/Serhii Hudak
As the Russians push mercilessly into the eastern Donbas region and President Zelensky's impassioned pleas for heavier weapons to beat them back become even more insistent, we at United With Ukraine must keep our eyes on the small story.
"I love you more than life. Do you agree to marry me?"
The human emotions that make up the lives of those in a country being mauled by a war it did not seek.
Natalia and Bogdan's story is one of these. A love story between an agricultural analyst and a soldier on the front line.
As he fought with his regiment in the Azovstal region, Bogdan managed to get a message through to Natalia.
"I love you more than life. Do you agree to marry me?". Her "yes" was immediate. They were married on April 17 as the Russian invaders pushed deeper and more aggressively into their Homeland.
Photo: One of the Azov Regimen's soldiers says goodbyes to his family, 2014 year. Radio Svoboda.
"We have a tradition of writing to each other every day, but communication is more difficult."
Five weeks later, Natalia is not certain if her husband is dead or alive."The last time I talked with my husband was May 7", she told us. "Though I had news on the 12th that he was still alive. "We have a tradition of writing to each other every day, but communication is more difficult."
"It is Dante's Hell"
From the battlefield, Bogdan describes to his wife of a few weeks the hellish conditions in which they are living."It is Dante's Hell", he wrote. "Here, people sit in semi-darkness, without legs, arms, and painkillers". "People are dying from primary injuries to their abdomens because we have no antibiotics, and the anaesthetics ran out long ago". "The most cynical thing of all is the Russians know where the wounded are and target them".
"I understand in my head that there are few chances, but in my heart, I believe in miracles
Natalia knows that Bogdan, a burly weight lifter, has lost 20 kilos, and she suspects he has a head injury as a cluster bomb exploded very close to him, covering him with shrapnel.
"I encourage him; I tell him we will have a child", she says. "I understand in my head that there are few chances, but in my heart, I believe in miracles.
"Mom, is it possible that everyone is killed just like that?"
"We are not afraid to die for our Homeland. We are afraid to live in a world where life values are declared only on a paper."
Her eight-year-old son from a previous marriage draws pictures of the dead and dying. And he asks his mother, "Mom, is it possible that everyone is killed just like that?".
Natalia stays in Kyiv and hopes for a miracle. She has not heard from her husband since May 17th.
A special thank you to Iryna Mamryga for interviewing Natalia.