When you are healthy and happy, secure and well-fed, you believe you can withstand any hardship. Sacrifice, discomfort, deprivation are all abstract, as they were for me until the end of my life. Before then, I never understood what it meant to have nothing. I never understood starvation or thirst. I never understood the true meaning of “the will to live” until I lost mine.
The deprivation began slowly. Shortages of this or that. We made do, hopeful that things would soon go back to the way they were. But they did not improve. Rather, they got worse. The things we took for granted were no longer available. We had to find other ways to survive. There was no place else to go and no way to get there, and even if there were, we wouldn’t have had the strength. All of us, men, women, and children were starving. We fell sick easily and succumbed to things that would not have killed us if we’d been strong to begin with. Slowly, we dwindled in number. Those who were left were skin and bone. Hollow ghosts of what we once were. Eventually, it became apparent that few, if any of us, would survive. Deliverance, salvation, was never going to come.
There was no honor, no satisfaction being the last to die. I’d been welcoming the end for a long time. I simply did not have the energy to stay alive.
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