My Own Private Chernobyl

25 years ago on April 26, 1986, the world as we knew it changed forever with the explosion of the nuclear plant at Chernobyl.

As the news of the catastrophe spread and the whole world held its breath in fear, I was undergoing my own private Chernobyl.

While the courageous workers battled to contain the poisonous radiation, I battled in another way….with stillness and meditation and prayer and tears and an ongoing conversation with the child in my womb.

As fires raged and uncontainable radiation billowed into the earth’s atmosphere, it felt as if the uncontrollable fires had dissolved my borders and were now raging inside me.

I could find no separation between the outer disaster and my inner one. The theories of “oneness with all” were no longer theories. It was all happening at once, within and without.

I felt my child slipping away…escaping as if she too was evacuating, leaving an unsafe place and going back to a safe one.

As the days passed, there were times that it seemed like she would stay, but as the situation in Chernobyl became more hopeless,

I finally gave up hope and let her go with my blessings….

the inner fires calmed down and she slipped away.

My private grief and the grief of the world were inseparable.

I could find no way out.

Heavy, mute, unbelieving.

There are those who will say that I have no right to compare my loss with the losses suffered at Chernobyl, and maybe they’re right.

I am not here to debate degrees of pain.

But what seems important, is that what I experienced and perhaps what my unborn child experienced, was the dissolving of ordinary boundaries, so that it was all happening at once….to all of us.

And is that really how it is, but we are usually armored enough not to feel it?

It would be too unbearable to feel it all of the time, we couldn’t function.

But are we, as human beings, supposed to at least understand that what happens to one of us happens to all of us, and act accordingly to the best of our ability?

25 years.

Widows alone with their fading memories.

25 years.

Children sickened with cancer watching out small windows at other children playing.

25 years.

People crammed into bleak cement buildings, longing to go home to fields and forests.

Fields and forests contaminated forever.

25 years.

A daughter unknown.

A love unfulfilled.

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