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Day 3: Seeing Dasha Again

I texted Dasha and said I would meet her at the dragon by the castle.

She texted back, Wawel?


I got there first and watched as she ran full force and pulled me into a tight hug.

She laughed and said, “I never thought I would see you again.”

I laughed and hugged her back. “Our world isn’t big enough to keep friends away for too long.”

It started to rain. She suggested we head to Old Town where there would be shops for us to go into.


Dasha was fourteen-years-old when we volunteered together last year. I wrote about her story in my book Unimaginable and how her grandparents had a destroyed Russian tank in their backyard. Since then she had a birthday, so now she is officially fifteen.

I wrote to tell her I was coming to Krakow and that I would be coming into Ukraine.

She said she was coming to Krakow, too.

I love it when things work out.

As we walked she filled me in on her schoolwork, on living the “boring life of a civilian”, and of being chosen to paint on an empty bomb casting.

I asked her what she painted on the casting.

She showed me. An American tank shooting into a fire.

She said it sold for $100 at an auction.

I told her that this was amazing and that I was so proud of her.

Yes, she donated the money to the Ukrainian army so they could buy protective gear with it.

For lunch I said I would treat her and she could pick any restaurant in the city. She asked if we could go to her favorite restaurant in the Jewish Quarter, Kazimierz. It's where they celebrated her sister's birthday last year.

Sure thing.

Every time she goes to this restaurant, she orders the lasagna. I got a tuna salad.

She told me about a group of soldiers that her family helps by sending them supplies and how the soldiers wrote letters to her family to thank them for their kindnesses. She didn’t think that the soldiers knew about her, and then one of the soldiers sent a video of him singing happy birthday to her.

She told me that she had decided what she wanted to do with her life, for a job. “Because I can’t live at my parent’s house forever.”

I had heard her mention how boring civilian life was and had a guess that her choice of career might be a government job.

She said that she wanted to work in service, to really help her country. She was thinking that she could learn to train dogs and work at the border to find bombs and drugs.

I told her that she could have any job she wanted.

She said that she only wanted a job that could help her country.

I told her that her country needed every job. Artists. Musicians. Writers. Performers. Nurses. Dog trainers. Accountants. Soldiers. Teachers. If there are not many different people doing many different jobs, then the country would be unbalanced.

She said that she knew that if she was a border guard that she would probably die first when invaders crashed through to borders.

I listened.

Then I said that as woman, there would be few choices she would make in her life that mattered more to her country than what job she did. She should be sure that she trained for a job she was truly interested in.

She thought that maybe she’d like to be a nurse because they need nurses, too. And that she could learn to protect people if she had to.

How long until she admitted that she wanted to be a soldier on the front lines?

I suggested that she could go to university first and get a degree, so she could enter the military at a higher level. I told the story of my friend’s son who joined after he had worked as a lawyer for a few years. He was treated like gold because he had so much to offer.

She said that she didn’t want to wait that long to work.

I nodded and said, “The one thing for your to remember from our meeting today is that there are many ways for you to help your country.”

She looked at me and nodded slowly.

Dasha showing off her painting on an empty bomb casing on her phone. The soldiers tried to mail the empty casing, but the post office refused to ship it. A volunteer drove it to her house.

Archangel Michael has a church named after him. Ornate. Gold. Breathtaking. Thanks Sofia for sending me that way.

Dasha was finishing her math test, so I had time to check out another old church. This is the church of St. Rita. Saint Rita is the patron saint of impossible causes, sterility, abuse victims, loneliness, marriage difficulties, parenthood, widows, the sick and bodily ills and wounds. Yes, something for everyone.

How wonderful to see my good friend, Iryna today. We mostly told secrets, so her visit didn't make it into the write. But, oh it was a lovely afternoon. I will see her again in the coming weeks. Yay for friendship.




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