A year ago today, my cousin, Yaroslava Tarasovna Mel’nik, was killed in a car crash outside of Kiev.
I called her parents yesterday. My fingers remember the number in that peculiar way that memory often associates itself with physical stimuli. I caught myself expecting her to pick up the phone.
I remembered a summer day in center of Kiev, swallows in the air over the theater, the sun burning in the windows, and she and I were on a bench, drinking beer. I drank Chernigivske and she drank the Russian beer familiar to any study abroad student – Baltika. I don’t remember what we were talking about, but I remember being very happy and very sad at the same time. Even while it was happening, the evening already held a quality of a memory, as if she was leaving my life already, turning around for a backward glance, eyes squinting slyly, as if she had a secret she could only reveal when my own time came.