“What shall we do today, Karina?”
“Sarah, today, I will show you Babi Yar!”
I didn’t have conversations like this in America. Of course, we didn’t have anything of Babi Yar’s magnitude in my little American town either, just a couple of museums and Trail of Tears plaques that no one knows about.
Karina and I sat on the steps of Babi Yar, ate our lunch, and shared our secrets, just a couple of “regular girls” with regular girl problems. But no hardship of our lives could compare to the tragedies that occurred here. By comparison, I felt we were very small and not as important as we liked to think. I rather liked feeling unimportant and being reminded that after all my life is not so bad.
This was one of the times in Kyiv that never left me, one of the small things that subtly and quietly crept under my skin. I found myself there twice, once with Karina and again to arrange transportation to the wedding (more on that later). Both times I got the feeling that by celebrating life, we honored the dead. By living our normal lives and everyday triumphs and woes, we were showing the departed that life does indeed go on, that dark nights do not always last, that we who remain still carry on.
Perhaps it’s a silly notion, that they find peace when we live the lives they could not, that it helps complete some kind of cosmic unfinished business. Maybe it’s just wishful thinking.
But it stayed with me, the conviction that I owe it to them to remember and then live a full and happy life. As much as is within my power.
Read more history here.
See more pictures here.