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  • Writer's pictureolyaglotka

Why I went to Ukraine and why my partner said Yes

When I realized I had to go to Ukraine, there was no way around it. I either go to Ukraine or I regret not going for the rest of my life. 

I missed the great Ukrainian revolution, the Maidan of 2014, I missed my sister's wedding, I missed my childhood best friend's funeral, I even missed my father's funeral. 

Somewhere inside of me I knew that I simply could not consider myself Ukrainian any more if I also missed this war. Also, I could never forgive myself for staying silent and not recording the stories of the people who raised me. My family, my friends, my teachers, my neighbours, my community. As a storyteller, the burden of their collective pain was simply too heavy for me.

Having decided I was going to Ukraine, the next step was clear. I couldn't possibly put my life at risk having not experienced the pride and joy of marrying my partner of 4 years. I'm used to living life with no regrets so I knew for certain that if dog forbid, anything were to happen to me, I would kick myself all the way down to hell for not doing the one thing I've wanted to do from the very first date: call Jess my wife. 

One (for example, my sister) might see it as a distraction tactic. A trick I use often to convince my loved ones to agree to my crazy ideas. I told Jess I needed to go to a war zone and I wanted to marry them before that in the same breath. 

Jess was devastated and delighted all at the same time. Just like they always do, they chose to support me and hold my hand through the journey. 

Logistically, the idea was a nightmare. We only had 2 days to marry one another, during our 48 hour layover between our work trip to Vancouver and a work trip to Iceland. I proposed the idea on Thursday and next Friday we drove Jess' motorcycle to the only available appointment slot at North York Civic Centre to pick up our marriage license. And on Saturday, 8 hours before our flight to Reykjavik, we stood in Earlscourt park, surrounded by 10 friends and read out our vows. Our Ukrainian choir friends sang beautiful ritual songs to hold us through the emotional ceremony. Our friends threw rice in the air as we popped cava and kissed. 

It was the most perfect wedding ceremony I could have asked for. I knew that 2 months later I would come home a different person and I am so honoured to come back home to my wife. 

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