‘It’s Like Parallel Realities’: Rituals of Life and Death Blur in a Vibrant Ukrainian City


A girl prays beneath two sculptures wrapped in protecting supplies at a cathedral in Lviv, Ukraine, July 1, 2022. (Emile Ducke/The New York Times)

LVIV, Ukraine — The tiny wail of new child infants echoes out from the incubators and cribs lining a small room with mint inexperienced partitions in a maternity hospital in Lviv.

Twenty-seven years in the past, Liliya Myronovych, the chief pediatrician in the neonatal division, delivered a child boy, Artemiy Dymyd, right here. Last week, she watched out the entrance window as his funeral was held in the cemetery throughout the highway, the dirge of the army band mingling with the cries of the newborns.

“It was my boy,” Myronovych, 64, stated of Dymyd, who was killed in the preventing in japanese Ukraine in mid-June. “It was my baby.”

Dissonant photographs of life and loss of life play out facet by facet in the western Ukrainian metropolis of Lviv. They may be stark, as when infants are born steps away from the now overflowing army cemetery the place Ukraine’s younger troopers are laid to relaxation.

But they can be refined.

At the entrance of the maternity hospital, home windows adorned with paper storks are additionally coated in masking tape to forestall them from shattering in an explosion.

The air raid sirens that after despatched Lviv’s residents scrambling into basements not trigger the identical degree of alarm as they did in February and March — although anxiousness was heightened final week when a barrage of missiles was unleashed from Belarusian airspace inside placing distance of the town.

Lviv has remained comparatively peaceable, turning into a hub for humanitarian assist and a place of refuge for these fleeing the preventing in the east. Yet loss of life nonetheless comes, evident in the regular stream of fallen troopers whose funerals are held right here, generally a number of occasions in someday.

The funerals overtake the every day rhythms of metropolis life. Trams cease. Bus passengers wipe tears from their eyes.

Mourners on the funeral for fallen soldier Artemiy Dymyd in Lviv, Ukraine, June 30, 2022. (Emile Ducke/The New York Times)

“Every time we say goodbye to them as if it is the first time,” stated Khrystyna Kutzir, 35, who stood on a Lviv avenue one afternoon in late June, ready for the passage of the newest funeral alongside the path to the army cemetery.

Across the road, 10 medical college students sporting black-and-red robes had gathered in the plaza in entrance of their college to rejoice commencement.

As the funeral cortege glided by, the scholars knelt alongside the sidewalk to honor the fallen soldier. They then picked themselves up, disregarded their legs and headed again to the college to pose for images.

One graduate, Ihor Puriy, 23, stated he had combined emotions concerning the long-anticipated day.

“In one moment, you are happy to graduate from university, and new horizons are opening in front of you,” he stated. “And at the same time, situations happen that bring you back to the reality and times we are living in.”

All the standard commencement celebrations had been canceled amid the battle, however the buddies had tried to search out some strategy to mark the event. However, Puriy stated, it was deeply uncomfortable to know that troopers his age had been dying on the entrance traces, by no means to see their very own futures realized. He and his fellow graduates are exempt from being drafted as a result of of their research and their future occupation as docs.

“We are trying to keep up our hope for the best, to avoid the negative thoughts each of us is having,” he stated. Still, it’s not possible to get used to the every day reminders of loss of life, he stated.

Honoring fallen troopers has change into a grim ritual for the workers of the medical college, in addition to a few different schools and workplace buildings that line the highway between the middle of city and the cemetery. Sometimes, there are 5 funerals in someday, stated Anna Yatsynyk, 58, who works as a toxicologist in the town morgue and rises every day from her desk to go exterior along with her colleagues to observe the somber processions.

Yatsynyk stated she and her colleagues have begun to arrange their work days to have the ability to see the processions.

“It has become a sad routine,” Yatsynyk stated. “But we always come. We feel it’s our responsibility to show our gratitude and pay tribute.”

Newborns at a maternity hospital in Lviv, Ukraine, June 30, 2022. (Emile Ducke/The New York Times)

On the June afternoon, they knelt to honor the lifeless as a minivan carrying the coffin rolled by. In the summer time warmth, many of the ladies wore sundresses, and the tough cement dug into their naked knees.

As a black automobile handed by, an aged relative of the soldier who died appeared out from behind the window’s glass and clasped his palms collectively, shaking them and nodding in appreciation to those that had gathered.

Everyone is aware of somebody preventing in this battle. And more and more, everybody is aware of somebody who has died because the battle reaches into even essentially the most peaceable communities.

But because the battle has turned from weeks to months, and because the bone-chilling chilly days of the winter invasion have given strategy to the warmth of the summer time, so too has the preliminary sense of terror in this metropolis made manner for a milder disquiet.

Lviv’s parks and inexperienced areas, cafes and terraces, seem like another European metropolis in the summer time. Outside the opera home, youngsters run laughing by a fountain to flee the warmth, their moist garments and hair clinging to them as they dodge the streams of water.

And you then look a little nearer. At the statues wrapped in protecting supplies. At the buskers performing patriotic songs that talk of battle and loss of life.

At the bare halls of the nationwide gallery, the light squares on the ornate wallpaper signaling works of artwork spirited away for safekeeping. At males in army fatigues tightly holding their companions’ palms.

People in their 20s comment that they reunite with giant teams of buddies solely once they attend the funerals of one of their friends.

That was the case for a lot of of the buddies of Dymyd, the younger man born in the Lviv hospital and buried throughout the road. But nonetheless, life continues on.

It has to, stated Roman Lozynskyi, 28, who was Dymyd’s pal of 20 years.

“It’s the reason why we are there,” he stated. “It’s what we are protecting.”

Lozynskyi, a marine and member of the Ukrainian Parliament, volunteered for the army three months in the past and served in the identical unit as Dymyd. It is essential to him that Ukrainians reside their lives, regardless that it might probably really feel jarring to return dwelling from the entrance traces.

“It’s difficult mentally, because it’s like parallel realities,” he stated of time spent in Lviv with buddies and household on his quick reprieve from the battle to attend the funeral.

Back in the maternity hospital, new moms give delivery every day, and amid all of the chaos discover hope.

“When you speak to the mothers, there is no war,” stated Myronovych, the pediatrician.

Khrystyna Mnykh, 28, gave delivery to her first youngster on June 28, Ukraine’s Constitution Day. While she was in labor, the air raid alarm went off. She had simply been given an epidural so was unable to make it downstairs to the shelter.

Weeks earlier, a missile strike simply a kilometer from her dwelling had shattered her neighbor’s home windows. But when she held her daughter, Roksolana, these recollections appeared to fade.

“You look at your tiny baby in your arms,” Mnykh stated, “and understand sooner or later life will go on.”

This article initially appeared in The New York Times .


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