His hand touches the glass of the train window. Through his phone in his other hand, he talks to the woman inside the train - his wife? A child’s hand tries to match his hand from the other side of the window. The station platform is near empty. All passengers have boarded; the train is about to leave.
Sending your family to safety when war breaks out, is what we all would do. Saying goodbye to family is a common scene at airports and train stations. Saying goodbye with the knowledge you may never….
I’ve said goodbye to family quite a few times in my life. Young and thinking I was invulnerable, it was easy when I traveled from Holland overland to India. Of course I’d be back. Adventure called. Saying goodbye when I emigrated from Holland to the USA was a more conscious separation. It would be a long time before I saw my family again. The desire to build a new family was stronger; the urge to find a better place to live, fierce .
I did see my family again. Privileged as I was and living in a free world, I could travel. After gaining enough financial security, I could travel across the globe yearly. Family and fresh adventures were wrapped in one.
My son relocated to the other side of the country. I felt the same pang my mother felt when she let me go to the USA. It wasn’t “never” as she feared, but “rarely” was true for me. My heart ached. The girls left home; not as far. My parents died; my husband passed away. The word “never” became real.
My heart aches for this man who is sending his family to safety. What is safety worth if you can’t be among loved ones? The pandemic taught us that safety can be very lonely. I’m used to living alone, far away from family and children. I’ve bridged the gap through travel, long visits, FaceTime calls. Nothing replaces the immediacy of living near each other; being able to touch and catch the look in each other’s eye, unclouded by a screen, or a window. Knowing that, I moved near family again. I left a warm circle of friends, a familiar place I’ve called home for 36 years, a garden that thrived under my watchful eye, hillsides ablaze with the light of sunsets. Never to return. It’s too far for a quick visit. I’m too old to be hopping around on the spur of the moment. NEVER is sinking in, as I feel the new earth I walk on, look at a different mountain view, that doesn’t feel like home yet. Sadness lines my heart, soft, teary, a wobbly feeling. I haven’t sprouted roots to help me feel stable and turn the sadness into energy for living.
I practice meditation, I walk. Each hour of sitting in meditation brings me closer to being here. The universe embraces me through each walk I take. Each hour helps me let go of what I had. Never results from change. Change happens in each moment. It helps to witness change. In small increments I am present for the “nevers” in my life. I feel the sadness and sense of freedom that accompanies letting go.
The Ukrainian man saying goodbye at the train window, chooses to stay and fight for freedom. He chooses to give his loved ones the freedom of safety. He’s a big-hearted man whose heart will ache for a long time, maybe forever if change won’t let him re-unite with his family. Love is the currency of the heart. Only love will heal this man’s heart.
On one of my long hikes in the eastern part of Holland, I passed through what was a concentration camp in WWII, now an open air museum. This is what I saw. We must NEVER let this atrocity repeat itself.