Diasporic Postcards: GUILT
There was an occasion when my father was lying in a hospital bed recovering from a heart attack and he confessed he had felt guilty his entire life about being the only one in his family to have escaped the Soviet Union after the Second World War. It’s a long, twisted migration story, but as a POW, he eventually landed in England as a ‘Displaced Person.’ There he met my mother, my elder brother was born, and I was conceived. But I was born in Canada, one month after the family emigrated here.
He supported his family in Ukraine as best he could and he worked tirelessly against the Soviets – espionage, propaganda, rallying the diasporic Ukrainian community in Canada. But it was never enough – not as long as Ukraine lacked freedom and his family endured the very difficult circumstances under Soviet rule. And the guilt and sadness that consumed him literally broke his heart.
Once again, my father’s family is deeply suffering and they’re terrified, at the prospect of violence or having to begin their own migration and start life over. And here I sit, in a land of abundance in comparative safety and peace, wondering why they have their life and I have this one. I do have a certain understanding of soul journeys and of the concept that my soul chose my experiences and their souls chose theirs. But I haven’t been able to allay the guilt yet. Are my donations enough? Is my support on social media even being seen? Are my prayers being heard? Will it ever be enough?