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The Dead Do Not Resist. How to Respond to “Inevitable Defeat” of Ukraine

The Dead Do Not Resist. How to Respond to “Inevitable Defeat” of Ukraine © unsplash/joshua_chehov

“Why should she go anywhere? She’s going to die in a week or so anyway. All that effort. What for?”

...It was back in 2018. A girl named Lera was really dying. Her house was under occupation. Her mother had died before the war started, her other relatives didn’t care about her, and she hadn’t seen anything in her life except an orphanage and then hospitals. Osteosarcoma with metastases first deprived her of her leg, and then of hope for life. After the doctors told her that she had no more than two weeks to live, she came to live with me. And we filled every minute of her life with meaning.

It was her choice — to wait for death or to live on. I could only support her. And she chose life. A life that lasted until her last night. We accepted the fact that she was going to pass away soon. We allowed ourselves to believe it. But we did not let this fact prevent us from living.

It was a little harder with the people around us. Many people could not understand why we were trying to live in a few weeks what many people take years to do. Why do we travel all the time, despite considerable effort? Why do we need new knowledge that we won’t have time to use? Why do we buy beautiful lingerie or cosmetics three days before we die? Why? Given that she is almost dead.

The “almost dead” girl was much more alive than most of my friends who did not have severe diagnoses. And she lived a month longer than she was promised. A whole long month, every minute of which was meaningful.


...Ihor Stepanovych lived a rather boring life. Between work and home with a wife who was always unhappy with something. A vacation once a year, which he spent at the dacha. Not the kind of dacha where you can relax, but the kind where you do hard labor in the garden. He had never been to the sea. He had never traveled abroad. He never allowed himself anything but the usual routine. Even when his adult children moved away and his wife passed away, he continued to live somehow sluggishly, by inertia. Until he went to the doctor for a routine checkup. 

A hospital. Then another one. Then conversations with the doctor about the fact that transplants are not performed in our country, you can try to apply for foreign treatment to the Ministry of Health, but it is not certain if he will live to see it. Plus his age. “You realize that you are not twenty. You are just very unlucky...”

I have no idea how long he lived after that. We met him when he was looking for someone who could help him. No, he wasn’t asking for money for treatment, he wasn’t looking for doctors’ contacts or secret pills. He was looking for a place to organize a parachute jump. Because wherever he asked, he was denied because of his age and health condition. By the way, he jumped with a parachute. And then he learned to ski. And then we lost contact. But I’m sure he didn’t stop there.


Vira found out she was pregnant when they left the occupied territory for an unfamiliar city. In that first phase of the war, which was not yet called a war. She, her husband and daughter lived in a compact settlement and tried to get back on their feet. The first ultrasound stunned them — the child was diagnosed with a severe pathology. The peripheral vascular system was formed and there was no heart. It was explained to her for a long time that the child’s life was tied to the umbilical cord. And that it would live until the moment when the umbilical cord was cut. And that the issue of abortion should not even be discussed — you have to go and do it. And she did. She left the office and made the hardest decision of her life. To have a baby and let it die in her arms. She never went to the doctor again. Until the day of the birth. She sang lullabies to her unborn child, told it how much she and her father loved it, and cried.

The baby was born. And it lived for the first five minutes. And five more. Then five more. No one could say whether it was an ultrasound doctor’s mistake or a miracle, but it was born completely healthy. 


...Irochka has always been in the thick of things. Both at home and at work. She could easily meet people, easily throw herself into any adventure, and easily take on any job. No party was complete without her. No project was launched until she started pushing it. No one ever called her by her full name. She was just Irochka to everyone.

Irohka has always taken care of her health. Smart diets, lots of sports, regular screenings. Therefore, the doctors found the small tumor on time. It is incredibly rare to diagnose oncology in the early stages in our country. The treatment was supposed to be quick. The prognosis was more than optimistic. But she broke down. She broke down at the very fact of the diagnosis. The word “oncology” was equal to death for her. And she did die. First inside, and then physically. She must have been waiting for death for five years. Until she did. And all these five years were a nightmare. She cut off all connections. She locked herself in her house and stopped answering the phone when her old friends called. Her life ended not on the day her body was taken out of her apartment, but when she said to herself “this is the end” upon seeing the diagnosis. 

The moment a person learns about the possibility of death is the point of no return. No one promised immortality, but your own death, as well as the death of a loved one, is something theoretical, almost impossible. However, the words about the diagnosis are spoken out loud, which means that the world has changed forever. The past life is gone. And what lies ahead depends solely on your inner strength. You can try to fight, even if you have zero chances. You can allow yourself to live or, on the contrary, wait for death. 

The diagnosis of war is not much different from other terrible diagnoses. It also radically changes the whole life. Death is no longer something illusory. It stands next to you every minute, trying to break your will and reap its harvest as soon as possible. And it is from the inner “this is the end” that the countdown begins. 


...In a shattered village near Siversk, boys sowed radishes. The seeds were handed over by volunteers who are no longer surprised by anything in this life. It is unlikely that they will see it grow. Around their house, there are myriads of craters. And even if it doesn’t get crushed by the next hit, they will still have to look for another one because Russians have adjusted their guns. But they continue to take care of their small garden since this is the normal life that cannot be canceled. And they are worried that they did it too early because the cold has not yet completely receded. 


...An old friend of mine has been planning remote classes with students in between trips to the frontline. He used to teach chemistry at a college. Now he is a mortar launcher in one of the brigades of the Territorial Defense. He could definitely not do this and use his free time to finally sleep. But he is concerned that children do not lose interest in his subject. Because the young girl who took his place at the college is very diligent, but she’s not doing well at the moment. By the way, he also communicates with her. And he finds time and energy to help make lesson plans. He believes that life goes on, charging everyone around him with this belief.

...My friends’ son is sitting in a rented apartment, with the door locked, and is afraid of conscription. The owners of the apartment do not even realize that they have rented the place not to a girl, but to a couple. He is one of those who were “not born for war.” He is healthy, strong, and young. He used to have a life around him. Now he is hiding not only from conscription, but also from his old friends, most of whom have been in the army for a long time. His girlfriend brings him food. She works to support both of them. He has not answered the phone for a long time. He is sure that he is fighting for his life, but in reality, he is dead inside. Just like Irochka, who lived in the same city. Even in the same neighborhood. And just like her, he doesn’t even try to fight. Despite very decent chances to survive and continue living. Will he find the strength to fight if the enemy knocks on his door? I think not. Because the dead do not resist.

Speaking of resistance. For us, February 24, 2022 was something like a doctor’s verdict that we had no chance. Because who in their right mind could have expected that we would not die in the first days of a great war? Without the support of the world. Without enough weapons. Without an army commensurate in size. It was a reasonable plan to surrender and save the lives of most people, not to mention cities. However, instead of listening to the reasonable advice of the “doctor” and going to “terminate the pregnancy,” we decided to stay with our country as long as we and it have enough strength. And we will always have time to bury it. I am eager to believe that the “diagnosis” of inevitable defeat is just an unfortunate mistake. But we will never know for sure if we do not continue to fight stubbornly.

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