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Prompt:

Write a six-word story about what you think the future holds for you, and then expand on it in a post.

Six Word Story:

Moving forward; going into the past.

Post:

A couple of weeks ago, I happened to notice there were four messages in my “Other” inbox in Facebook.  (Why does that stupid “Other” inbox even exist?!)  I click it open.  Spam, spam, spam, and spam . . . wait, no.

There’s one message from a girl whose name is Ukrainian (written in Cyrillic, so I can’t read it).  The English is sightly broken and not the greatest, but I can understand her.  She says, “You definitely don’t know me, but I’m making research on my grandgrandpa’s cousin, Sylvester Shabelsky, and you have same last name as him.  Any information you can give is help.  Thank you.”

I almost dismiss it as spam.  I ask my Dad; I ask my brother.  They both think it’s a scam.  But my gut tells me it’s not.  I send her a message back.  She replies.  She’s a real live person.  A few more messages back and forth, and we finally confirm that, yes, we are indeed related.

A whole new world opens up for me.  I have family in Ukraine.  Not even that distant.  I have a real live connection to culture, history, and place.  Something I’ve never had before.  My culture was lost to the Canadian melting pot.  Language and customs purposely not passed down to the next generation.  My history was cutoff when an ocean was crossed, and letters back home stopped being sent shortly thereafter.  I have a place, a village in southwest Ukraine, with a name I can’t pronounce.

Today, I went to the Saskatchewan Archives Board and requested to see my Great Gido’s Homestead file.  The archivist brought me the file, opened it up for me to look at, and I promptly burst into tears.  She must have thought I was unstable.  In that moment, I was a bit.  It was one of those moments that quickly expands like a balloon and the air is thick and you recognize for an instant that everything is always happening in the here and now.  Here, I’m looking at the same document that my Great Gido signed over a hundred years ago.  Now, I turn the crumpled pages, the same pages he touched.  Through action, we exist on the same plane, in the same time and space.  I owe everything to this man, this 18 year old who decided to set out on his own across an ocean and build a new life.

Then I realize my nose is snotty, and there’s no Kleenex to be had, and I’m afraid I’m going to get tears or snot on the file, and all the other MEN in the room are looking at me, and probably thinking, “Gah.  Women.”  So I pull myself together and look through the files.  I order colour copies.  I go home.

But I go home with a strange new feeling of peace.  Maybe even confidence?  A feeling that comes from knowing who I am, knowing whose shoulders I stand on.  I’m excited to find out even more.

In my head, I’m already planning a trip to Ukraine.  Hoping the ceasefire will hold and that the country will find peace.  Hoping I’ll be able to find my “home” someday.  Hoping to heal a connection to the past.  How else do you know where you’re going if you don’t know where you came from?

Moving forward; going into the past.

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