It was the summer of 1940 in Estonia. There was a young girl, not quite 16, and she had two dreams. One was to become a ballerina and the other was to marry the boy to whom she loved. They had grown up as neighbors in their small village, and she had already loved him for many years. She would often practice ballet in the tiny backyard of her family's house that she shared with her parents and younger brother. Her love would often see her there and watch in silence. Not leering. She knew he was there, and he knew that she was aware of him. No words ever needed to be spoken during these beautiful, unspoken moments shared between just the two of them... and all the while, the rest of the world was screaming. When they were together, it felt so natural. So safe. So loving. They both knew they were meant to be together. It was understood but never spoken.
One morning, in the early summer mist, soldiers approached their village. They could hear the stomping of their feet following along in time with their hearts pounding. The clanking of their arsenal was sharp. Piercing and approaching.
They were coming.
They were coming for the men. And the boys.
New soldiers for the Soviet Army or death, if you were of age... or close enough to it. Her love was 17 and they both knew what was going to happen. The entire village was crying. Hiding was too late of an option and there was no running. Mothers saying horror-filled goodbyes to their husbands and sons, knowing it was likely the last time they would embrace.
Panic had seeped in to the people. There was screaming, struggling, fighting and running. The ballerina was holding tightly to her love, as tightly as she possibly could, gaining strength she never knew she possessed. They were both terrified and she had begun to openly weep as she could see the soldiers had spotted her love. He kissed the side of her tear soaked face. Then one tender kiss on her forehead as he let the soldiers pull him away, although his body was riddled with tension, anger and hesitation.
She took one last lunge towards his body, clawing at the dirt beneath her, screaming, "NO!"
An officer stood over her and slapped her across the face, Hard. Then he dragged her back inside her home. Her love's anger raged at this offense and he attempted to escape. There was a struggle.
And then silence.
Soon after, she knew she could not stay there. She had knowledge of an acquaintance's brother who escaped to Canada and he needed a wife. Thinking that her love was dead, she escaped and was married the next spring. She was a good wife; a grateful wife. An obedient wife, but she never danced again.
They had a daughter some years later.
Decades had come and gone and then she became a grandmother.
How quickly life can melt away.
One day, her husband became ill and passed. She was 76 and had not once been back to Estonia since that summer in 1940. With her child grown and her husband gone, she felt it was time to return.
Of course, the reunions shared many tales of family and loss. So much catching up with old friends and family and yet she never once felt tired or old. How much had changed in 60 years and also things that had stayed the same. Then 'her love' had come up in a conversation.
"Oh yes, he is doing just fine. He is a widower now. Lives just down the street."
Her heart raced as if she were to pass out, "HE IS ALIVE?"
"Of course he is alive, and well. He thought YOU were killed, didn't you know... all those years ago?"
"I thought HE was killed! HE IS ALIVE??" She repeated again through tears of excitement and disbelief.
As quickly as her body would take her, she got up, threw a pale blue shawl around her neck and shuffled out the door. She went to his house, trying to make herself presentable along the way. She took out a pocket mirror, looked at her reflection and saw the ballerina shining back at her. He answered the door and it only took one shared look to see, to know, to feel that they would indeed never be separated again.