Serving love at homeland’s altar

Serving love at homeland's altar
Serving love at homeland's altar

It hurts me so much like your heart hurts when you see me cry. It’s a complicated day for us and our love. It starts knowing the hardships of life, that not everything is rosy… You hold me in your arms as you’d never want to let go of me. The army chief shouts your name, gives you an ultimatum of a few minutes. You use them to hug me and promise me that everything is going to be ok, even if something keeps you from giving me hope anymore. You persist and hold me tight, hoping just as much as me that you’ll find your way back to us. Confused, you bid farewell and tell me “Goodbye…” I watch you as you leave, and tears fill my eyes, my body shaking at the sight of your departure. Serving love at homeland’s altar…

The man that represented my entire life left.

He left with quick steps, like the other soldiers, waving at me with his hand, telling me he’s going to come back. And so a year passed since I last heard about him. I received only one letter after a few months that said my husband has disappeared. Being sure and waiting for him, I’ve written to him. Stupid, isn’t it? I didn’t have a person to send it to anymore:

‘You were holding me so tight in your arms that it seemed to me you were never going to leave. But you left, eventually, leaving me with only the hope of your return. All that’s left for me is the button from your army uniform. The one that I swapped with one of mine so that you’ll know that I’ll always be with you, as long as you’ll suffer the fight alone. Without “us”, we who used to battle the world together… I was looking at you leaving, ready for the war that was about to bring you to an end, leaving only false hopes behind him.’

I stopped writing. His absence hurt me so much that my heart was breaking into pieces at every word on the paper. My tears were filling my face with every minute that passed.

Irina’s thoughts were more nostalgic and more frequent day by day.

She looked every day on the road that Radu departed on through the window in the room. The road on which they used to stroll when the sun went down. Outside, the weather was cold and sad. The atmosphere had exhausted the birds who weren’t singing anymore. The war had induced that effect on everything. The sensation affected the people as well, each one of them standing and waiting at the gate for the departed to return from war. Every day she was asking questions, waiting for him, hoping, despite the letter she had received. She was suspecting that it’s all fake and Radu was still alive. She felt it and she was right, Radu didn’t disappear, he had his life on the line in the game of war.

It was foggy and the rain was pouring relentlessly.

The bitter cold was reaching the marrow inside your bones. You were trying to advance and couldn’t do more with your gun than using it as a walking cane. The blood of your comrades was sticking to the sole of your boots like a dying man. The mud in which you were struggling almost didn’t matter anymore. Radu flinched as an enemy soldier appeared in front of him out of nowhere, ready to pounce on him. His whole life rolled in front of his eyes, but especially a certain moment… He was at the altar, holding hands with a beautiful girl in a simple white dress.

It was Irina. He had met her, not long before, at the watermill of her dad, Mr. Dimitrie, in a secluded place. They had been happy in that simple and white day…up until war knocked on their door right during that day. The army had summoned him.

From the fog of rumors, a distant voice was pulling his mantle. It was the voice of a fallen brother in arms who had died sometime before Radu’s eyes. For the second time, he was looking over Radu, trying to save him. With the remaining power, he crawled behind a tree, the killing bullet missing him. His division appeared right then – miraculously! – tearing away the fog in Radu’s soul. For some reason, he evaded death once again, as he did so many times.

A year and a half, filled with waiting and hope soon followed.

Irina’s eyes were getting bluer. She eventually discovered at the barracks that the letter was a fake. None other than her former lover had sent the letter. He was still hoping that their destinies could intertwine. But Irina’s eyes were full of love for Radu. She was guessing that in a few months he would return home beside her, at least for a few weeks, because she loved him so much that any waiting was worth it.

But time passed, and those months transformed into a year full of nostalgia and hope. Irina’s eyes weren’t the same anymore, she felt that something bad had happened because her heart wasn’t beating so strong when she was thinking about his return… Radu was waiting, himself lost too, hoping that life’s road snapped by others’ choices would continue its course. “Irina!” A faint cry, but filled with meaning…He was imagining her, on the battlefield, down and wounded. She was so beautiful, with that same gaze full of dreams. But she was just another unearthly memory shattered by another bullet that hit his chest, his eyes closing, his heart as well.

Later, someone informed Irina that the love of her life had his life ended on the war front that none escaped.

This time she lost her hope because her heart sensed that it had lost something. Waves of tears flooded down hear fine and rosy cheeks like ones of an innocent girl. She was missing him, she was crying until she was letting out her last breath. But everything was pointless, there was nothing left to do anymore. A month passed since Radu’s funeral, a soldier who did his job until the end, fighting for his motherland and who still appeared in Irina’s dreams. She used to dream about him every night and felt he’s alive again. She was feeling his love again and all the nights of love spent together, all the strolls through the town parks, every image of them like two kids holding hands. Everything was shattering instantly when the morning was hitting the crystal window, not having enough time for a goodbye.

She continued her life, wasting time as a volunteer for taking care of wounded in another war that hit the motherland. She was living with the hope that at least the other women would rejoin their husbands safely, at home, waiting for them full of love and with a loaf of warm bread on the table. Alone now, she wasn’t thinking about anyone else, her love for Radu was so radiant it blinded her.

Her blue eyes were now a murky sea. The sea of tears had dried up because she was exhausted.

She was sometimes looking, powerlessly, at the new wounded soldiers who came in. They were crawling through the muddy soil to her feet begging her to heal their wounds. Their power had reached a point that it wasn’t felt anymore. She was carefully and attentively tending to their wounds, knowing that the pain was stinging them through every knuckle. The blood of the wounded started to become a clot that was harder to clean. She was never one for medicine, but her immense loss of Radu was the reason for her volunteering as a nurse.

She loved to work, seriousness, and devotion, early in the morning already at the bed of the injured. There had been a point where she hid in a trench near a church due to the heavy gunning of the enemy. The bombs were dropping like raindrops, and almost half of the medical staff ran away from terror. Irina, however, like a fighter, was without fear, had already gotten used to it, and was all the time beside the sick and injured.

The war had mutilated thousands of soldiers for life from wounds suffered during fights. Some of them were without an arm, a leg, and handled with a lot of resignation and strength all the interventions and gauzes.  Half a year passed since Irina wasn’t a voluntary anymore. She was safe now, content with the help she had offered to the soldiers, and at peace with herself, and peacefully went about her life.

Still, she was feeling alone, even though she still loved Radu.

She visited his grave daily, she was talking to him, telling him how she was doing, she was crying and settling down, and then leaving. Same routine, same nostalgia. One day, she visited an orphanage to give them a few goodies, toys and clothes. She was determined to kill time by doing things that fulfilled her and brought her happiness. Kids and everything that concerned family was of her liking. She had always wanted a kid with Radu, with all his beautiful features: long eyelashes, crystal green eyes, long curly hair.

One day, she met a very beautiful little girl, named Maria.

Her dad brought her in not long before he went to war. Her mother had died when she was only 3 years old. Irina felt at that moment a series of unique feelings. She felt that she wanted to become a mother and that that little soul filled her own with joy and reminded her of  Radu. Maria had the same green eyes and long eyelashes. She had blonde, curly hair, inherited from her mom, and her lips were soft just like her dad’s. She was a unique beauty, just like a princess, and Irina didn’t hesitate to adopt her then and there.

Irina had a small flat, devastated by the horrors of war. So, she decided to move to her dad’s house in the countryside. Mr. Dimitrie’s house was beautiful, with unique vistas where nature felt very present. The backyard garden was full of flowers and oak. The cherry trees were close to having their sweet and succulent fruit ripe.

Maria loved strolling every night and watch the sun going down with her second mother and the guard dog, Luki. Luki loved cuddles and entertaining its owners. They were a happy family, and that was evident in their smiles. The sun was reflecting itself in their happiness. Its warm rays cause joy in their hearts. They knew everything was going to be ok in the end. Their life started making sense and love could make its way in.

Sometimes, love is unique and you can’t replace it no matter how hard you try. It’s never going to be the same.

It’s either going to be better, or it’s going to be worse. Love is either simple or complicated. It depends on the angle from which you look at it and how you choose to see it. It makes us happy and involves itself in everything we do and feel. Each human loves in their own way. All that matters are the smiles and the fulfillment that loves brings to the soul and life. Tears can’t destroy love. They can even amplify it. The fact that you can go over hardships through love can’t mean anything else than that your soul is ready to pave other roads with love. Irina preferred to stay loyal to Radu and give all her love to Maria, a new love for which she was ready to fight with all her power.

If you want to hear more heartbreaking love stories… we have something for you here!

Author: Simona Bradatan


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