Posts like this one are very hard to write and we put them off until the end. I was srecently asked how Liliya was doing and I realized that I was subconsciously evading talking about it. Liliya has been dying and everyone, including herself, know that but there is nothing to be done. Liliya has terminal cancer which is irreversible. Moreover, the woman has no relatives who could help and visit her. Only her son, who is in need of assistance himself. When I was in Lugansk in late April I was not able to visit Liliya. I couldn’t find the strength.
Liliya is burning out and we realize she can die at any moment. I wanted to write that Liliya is alive thanks to a miracle and it’s improbable that she’s still alive at all given her diagnosis. Last fall she was given weeks. But I know this miracle has a name–our Lena.
She visits Liliya three times a week. Three times a week she spends hours with Liliya, supporting her, keeping her company. Three times a week she brings Liliya food, diapers, which are indispensable. Also brings medications which the hospice can’t provide. And she’s like a squeezed out lemon after every visit.
Lena, there are no words which can express that kind of gratitude.
If someone can’t be cured, it doesn’t mean they can’t be helped”–I’ve read that phrase somewhere concerning palliative care and it stuck. And only now did I realize it hits the nail on the head. Liliya was quietly dying in her home in Lugansk, of terminal cancer. Her legs gave out and there was nobody left to help. Nobody needed her. She was taking care of a 14-year-old son whom she forbade to change her diapers–which was understandable.
Thanks to you we have an opportunity to make Liliya’s life easier.
Do you remember her earlier photos? Just look–an entirely different person.
Maybe it’s not proper to say this, I don’t know, but yes–Liliya is blooming.
I’m often called a volunteer, but that’s not true. I’m no volunteer, not even an aid worker.
I don’t know how to properly label that which I do. I realized that I can’t be a volunteer who helps hospice patients, the disabled, the elderly. I can write a report, can place myself in someone else’s place and write about that, go to the “front” where there’s danger. Yes, I will be afraid, just like any normal person. But I’ll get over it. But looking into the eyes of people who have only very little time left is beyond my strength. I wasn’t able to get used to in even in three years. Abandoned elderly, disabled kids, the dying in hospices–all of it kills me. I can’t.
But our Lena can. I don’t know how. I don’t know where she gets her strength from.
As of late, one can detect contempt toward our emigrants emanating from among the patriotic community. “Traitors”, “don’t let the door hit you on the way out.” I don’t find it pleasant to read, and I want to not only defend our people abroad but say that many of them are bigger patriots than people who put “Thank you Grandfather for the Victory” stickers on their cars, but at the same time behave rudely and don’t let pedestrians cross the road.
I’ve encountered that directly. I’m not talking about the rude individuals but Russian patriots in other countries.
There are many of them among my readers. And!
Many of them continually help the Donbass.
The majority of funds for the aid effort is coming from them, the inhabitants of Canada, USA, Australia, Germany, England, Austria, Norway, etc.
During these years, I’ve found lots of groups on facebook, LiveJournal, VK, where people cooperate, assemble truckloads of aid, and send it to the Donbass.
One can hardly imagine what it takes–organizing logistics into the unrecognized republics from abroad! It’s extremely complex, I know what I’m talking aobut.
They do it themselves, through foundations, through volunteers such as myself. And if you think they are former inhabitants of Lugansk and Donetsk regions, you are mistaken.
Many of them are from families which have never visited these places. And I am once again happy to witness all this and to be able to help.
I wrote a big piece about the events in LPR, then erased it.
Too many emotions–I was remembering ’14, ’15.
It’s better I tell you about the Novosvetlovka hospice again.
This village was one of the most damaged during this war.
During the summer of ’14 it was nearly wiped off the surface of the earth. There was hard fighting. On every street there were many burned out tanks and APCs. Dozens of ruins where houses used to be. So many stories about marauders, about the locals whom the Aidar Battalion herded into the church. Many of the surviving houses were utterly looted.
The church, incidentally, has been restored. Many of the damaged homes were rebuilt too. Ukraine played no part in it at all, even though it still views this territory as its own but at the same time is refusing to pay even the pensions to people who for all these years worked and paid taxes into its budget.
The hospital’s maternity ward that was hit by many shells and in whose cellars many of the villagers were surviving, a hospice was opened in ’16. I write about it from time to time.
It was quiet in Kalinovo. Even though today is the lottery.
The village is long–I’ve never seen anything like it–27 kilometers. From Pervomaysk to Bryanka. More than half-marathon. Except it’s impossible even hypothetically because shelling is a daily occurrence. It’s been like this for three years. We forgot, we can’t believe, it seems vague to us, we push it out of our thoughts. Even among LPR inhabitants there are those who don’t know what happens on the line of contact. The media don’t draw attention to it, and people simply stopped paying attention.
Kalinovo has its own hospice. That’s where we went.
Three years ago, when I first visited this town, it had no hospice. Only a hospital that suffered from bombardments. A big, good hospital. It stayed open during the whole “war”. War? Yes, Novosvetlovka was bombed to bits during the summer of 2014. Those who were here know what happened. Even I saw, during the winter of 2014/15 a burned out APC or a tank on every street. Bunkers and destroyed homes everywhere. These were the first of the most awful sights I saw during the war on the Donbass.
With time, the damaged maternity ward was turned into a hospice. A place where people depart. We came here already several times with aid. They have noone else to turn to. We are de-facto the only people to help them. They currently have 28 patients. They get medications, but the rest…
Nothing has changed since our last visit. The biggest problem is with adult disposable diapers. Relatives bring them in some cases, but some patients have no relatives at all. Staff deals with the situation as best it can. But it is a problem. A big problem. Because the less often you change the diapers, the more skin problems. Bed sores, lesions…And corresponding odors…
Marina Anatolyevna seems like a young girl. We met her during the summer. At the time she was already in charge of the Novosvetlovka hospital hospice for six months. Bangs, thin arms, and eyes full of wonder.
In 2014, Novosvetlovka was just about wiped off the face of the Earth. But it wasn’t. It withstood the assault. Although its hospital was badly damaged, just like most of the homes, which became ruins. Some of the wards were closed altogether, including the maternity one. Many sat through the bombings in the hospital’s basement.
After a while, the hospital was renovated and new wards were op;ened.
Unfortunately, maternity was not one fo them.
Now it houses a hospice. It’s small–right now there are 25 people there. They put in charge a young doctor, Marina Anatolyevna Astakhova.
When I visited it during the summer, instead of this blue plate there was simply a piece of paper with typed letters.
This is the last holiday greetings post from our team.
This is the Lugansk Hospice associated with the regional hospital’s cancer ward.
For most of the people on these photos, it’s their last New Year celebration.
We decided to bring holiday greetings to these people, that was the right thing to do.
I won’t speculate concerning your emotions on that day. I also won’t say anything. Because what’s there to say?