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fear for the world

On the news: images of a trainload of very sick Ukrainian children and babies being transported from hospital to safety in Poland or Germany. I have to turn away, cannot imagine such pain and fear, for parents, for nursing staff, for the children themselves. We are watching a madman unleashed, as the world reacts in agonized horror. How can there be no one in his circle to stop him?

Never has my home felt so safe and quiet. How lucky we are. How impossibly stupid, selfish, entitled, and blind the “freedom convoy” of aggrieved Canadians seems. Still out there, paralyzing downtown today! Unbelievable.

There’s been moving footage of Germans lining up in train stations, ready to host refugees. My basement suite is rented through November but I’m wondering, when it’s empty, should I offer it to a Ukrainian family in exile? What can we do? 

Strangely, in my own little world, things are unusually tranquil. Huge family concerns have settled down, at least for now. I got the third draft of the essay book back from the editor, Ellie, and am working on it today, hope to get it out mid-week. Ruth wrote to ask if I wanted to see Belfast this afternoon, and I wrote back that I’d love to – imagine, going to a great film with a friend on a Saturday afternoon, for the first time in ages! – but would have to say no, I can’t concentrate on anything else right now. We’ll go for a walk, but then I’ll come home and get back to work. Sixteen degrees tomorrow! Briefly. 

Yesterday, though, across town – Anna needed after-school care. I got the boys at school, got Ben ready to go off with his dad for the weekend, and then played Scrabble with Eli. I haven’t played Scrabble in many years, but Wordle has whetted my appetite for making words. I helped him and allowed a few backward words. He won. 

Also on the table beside us, in his temporary playpen – Nugget the adorable Christmas hamster. 
Anna lives in a small apartment with two whirling dervishes and a much loved cat who’s incredibly thin, vomits regularly, and refuses to die. And yet, it’s always tidy and welcoming and warm there. How she does it, I don’t know. Pictures of family and kid art everywhere. In the kitchen, my parents’ Danish modern cutlery, my mother’s ceramic mugs and Le Creuset cookware. The blue chair belonged to Anna’s dad’s grandmother. Generations, gathered there, beside a small boy focussed on his hour of iPad time. 

It’s all so fragile. Anything – a madman, a pandemic, a diagnosis – and life as we know it ends. But today — here, at least — for now, at least — there is peace. 



2 Responses to “fear for the world”

  1. theresa says:

    So much of this post rings true for me as well, Beth. The sense of security but also distress because of, well, the events of the last week or so. And before that. And before that. It's hard to know what to do yet doing nothing feels inadequate in so many ways. We sent money and have offered to welcome my very distant cousins who still live in my grandfather's village. Understandably they are reluctant to leave just yet. In Western Ukraine, things are still fairly quiet and the cousin I am in contact with is the head teacher in a small school. Everything she has is hard-won. A house she had to work abroad to be able to finance. Etc. But if it comes to it, I hope that some of them at least will come to us. Of course I hope that somehow things settle, that Putin is dealt with, but the current scenario is one the world has seen before and unfortunately the countries that might be able to make a difference can't or won't. Never again, people said after the Second World War. And yet? Here we are. I would think Scrabble is a good solace right now.

  2. beth says:

    I have other Ukrainian friends, Theresa, who like you feel this insane war far more viscerally than I, with fears for family and friends. The senselessness of it is devastating. As so many articles have pointed out, what will the future hold even if he wins and conquers? Trying to tame a deeply angry and ferocious nation that will continue to fight until it wins freedom again.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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Chris Walks
This blog evolves. It once was about travels. Now it’s a reason to be at the keyboard that I value.

Theresa Kishkan
Theresa Kishkan is a writer living on the Sechelt Peninsula on the west coast of Canada.

I walk on. With my feet, and in my mind as well.

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Wherever you’ve come from, wherever you’re going, consider this space a place for reflection and pause.


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