This love was discussed not only in Ukraine, but all over the world. Their wedding photos, which were taken at the now-defunct Azovstal plant, were seen almost everywhere on the planet. Valeriya Karpylenko, a writer and soldier in the “AZOV” regiment, married border guard Andriy Subotin on May 5, the anniversary of the formation of the “AZOV” regiment. Andriy died three days later. His Valery has been held captive in russia for the ninth month.
Lyudmila Subotina, Andriy’s mother, told us about her children’s marriage, which became a symbol of eternal love, their paths that crossed at one point, and Valery’s infinitely deep and beautiful poetry.
“He traveled to Mariupol with only one bag and a backpack”.
“Today, I treasure every memory. There are many of them, and they will live on in my heart forever. These are such unique sensations, such moments that I keep experiencing. They are both happy and sad, and they can be unbelievably painful at times. But I was a content mother. Andriy was born in the Far East to a military family. He frequently had to switch kindergartens and schools. It is a difficult life for a child, but because he grew up with a calm personality, we had no problems, and he quickly adapted to a new place.
Many of his childhood belongings were kept by me. Many of them are toys and books. Despite the fact that we moved frequently, we always carried everything with us. Andriy enjoyed reading. Fairy tales were first, followed by adventure literature and fantasy.
From a young age, the son was tough. It was snow up to my knees as I walked through the field with my father. The son is carrying his rucksack, and the husband remarks that he appears tired. But every time he asked for help, Andrii refused. To give the child a break, the man had to make up entire stories. For example, he placed it on his shoulders and instructed you to look into the distance and determine what is there.
And he spent a lot of time talking to grown men, his father’s friends. Valery Oleksandrovich frequently took him on hunting and fishing trips. As a result, he grasped the complexities of these activities at a young age. It was fascinating to hear how he told all of this to his peers.
He aspired to be a soldier like his father. If he had grown up in a family of doctors, he might have considered a career as a doctor, and that is how he learned about military affairs. When the son finished high school, he had vision problems, so instead of going to the military academy, he began studying law. The humanities were an obvious choice for him. He was a big fan of jurisprudence. Perhaps because he enjoyed assisting others. He was proud even when he had little knowledge but a case that he could solve. Later, he graduated from the military department while also working. Then he married, and now we have a beautiful granddaughter from his first marriage to console us. A very astute young lady. I rarely address her by name because she has been our Darling since birth. She enjoys it. I can’t imagine not having my granddaughter. We recently did needlework with her, and she says, “Grandma, they say I look like my dad, and I’m very proud of it.
Andrii eventually returned to his childhood ambition of becoming a soldier. He was given several options. And, having already made a decision, he informed us that he was relocating to Mariupol. I went there with only a backpack and a bag. He worked as a lawyer on the side. There, in the border detachment, he met Lyerochka, and a new chapter in their shared life began…”
“I’d like for you to get to know Lera through her poetry”.
“When they met, they were both happy. We were incredibly happy for the kids. They never bothered them with unnecessary questions because they saw everything in that light. But the God gave them a short time together. Everyone who has a love story understands the sincerity and beauty of emotions. The war only added tangible and indelible moments to their lives. You know, I’d like to tell you about Lerochka not so much as a personal impression, but so you can feel her through the eyepiece of creativity. She created herself because she is such a multifaceted person. She graduated from university with honors, worked there, and became a candidate of sciences. And, in fact, she could choose between becoming a teacher and a scientist.
In 2014, our children were fully immersed in the war. Andriy – when his father was injured, contused; Lerochka – when she lost her childhood home. At the time, she felt as if the enemy had stolen her childhood”.
“I actually remember Lerochka having health issues while serving in the State Border Service. She was then advised to resign. I visited her in the hospital, and we were just walking among the trees; it was a lovely autumn day. She was talking to her brother at the time. I listened and was pleasantly surprised by how powerful our youth are. “Brother, I was advised to resign from the service, but the war is not over yet,” she explained. “That’s correct, you need a reboot,” he said. Don’t worry, you’ll rest and we’ll contact you again; you’ll still be in formation.” She also wrote a poem about this period in her life, when she was on the front lines and suffered many losses among her friends and comrades.
When I read her poems, I understand how difficult life was, but I also understand the strength of her friends, and how they all stayed strong in tough circumstances.
There is a lot of poetry that expresses their life with Andriy. According to their friends, Valeria changed when the lovers began living together: she became a fragile flower whose petals were protected from the wind by Andrii, she began to pay more attention to creativity, and she began playing the bandura. And they took a lot of vacations. She adores nature, and her favorite pastime is walking through the Donbass grasses and rocks.
She produces a lot of creative output. The collection they released with Andrii in 2020 did not include all of their poetry. I reissued the collection “Flowers and Weapons” in December. I only added a new cover with Lyra’s Azovstal photo and one poem in which her soul screams about those terrible times to this collection. Her friends and I spent an evening reading and discussing Lera’s poems. There was a very friendly atmosphere. I reasoned that she would definitely feel this warmth, and that while we wait for her, it might make it a little easier for her to survive the horrors that she is currently subjected to in captivity. Lera is now in one of the russian camps, and I know from her brothers and sisters that it is very difficult for her, but she is holding on bravely.
She is listed as a prisoner of war, and negotiations for her exchange are ongoing. Unfortunately, the enemy does not always keep agreements, so many people are still held captive in deplorable conditions today. We don’t know when Valeriya will return to Ukraine because we know the type of enemy we’re up against. As a result, we pray and patiently await her arrival.
I often think about our future meeting and look forward to it. Every time, I see him. However, I have no idea how our meeting will go because what happens in the soul cannot be expressed in words.
When Lerochka returns, I’d like to organize another poetry evening. She has some unusual poems that she reads very well. I’m not sure if anyone can match her reading ability. She has poems written while at Azovstal. I really want her to spread this poetry because their lives and love are extraordinary.
And they are always happy and smiling in the photos. I believe they were enjoying each other’s gaze and perhaps their last moments together as they stared into the eyes of death. I believe they felt all of the pain and horror that was present. That’s why they decided to marry, as Andriy insisted. They had the option to marry even before that. However, the decision was made in May. Andriy wants to marry on May 5, the anniversary of the formation of the “Azov” regiment, as Lera said. He ran to her for a few minutes late at night. Orest photographed them and filmed a video in which they discussed their rings, which he made out of foil, and they never saw each other again. He fled and was killed by a sniper’s bullet on May 7 at 1:45 a.m.
Even in the face of terrible shelling, Andriy and Lyera maintained their humanity. She provided assistance to women and children. Andriy assisted in transporting the injured to Azovstal’s hospital. And, despite not having studied military science, the son proved to be a determined and courageous officer during the war. He received the Order of the III Degree “For Courage”… Posthumously…
To be honest, I hoped that when the rest of the world saw such a huge threat and saw our soldiers fighting like lions until their last breath, they would immediately step in to help prevent the war from dragging on. The situation is difficult. But, looking at our defenders, who fought so valiantly and with such dedication, I am confident that victory is unavoidable. And our soldiers deserve to be greeted and waited on. And the entire world should honour them for their bravery. Because they win not only for their country, but also for the entire world. I always speak up for our children and prisoners on any and all platforms. I have to remind you of this because we must fight, because they have fulfilled their duty to us and the state as a whole as defenders”.
What do I want right now? Wait for our children…
“I haven’t seen my kids in over a year. We hadn’t seen each other in a long time. Every day, they talked.
I don’t have the feeling of losing my son; instead, I have hellish pain, longing, and the overwhelming desire to hug and kiss him. I can even smell him. Perhaps I’m mistaken, but I don’t want to believe he won’t be with me today or tomorrow.
If I say that 2022 was terrifying for me, I will be lying. I remember February and March. But when we learned that our son had died on May 7, time stood still…
When I was out of town in May, the birds in our garden were singing a lot. Maybe they sang that way every year, or maybe it’s just my impression. I was about to leave when this bird song broke my heart. I couldn’t figure out summer or autumn, and now it’s winter. Andryusha always called, though only a few times because his position had been completely destroyed in March. He then texted us short messages from his brother’s phone. My son always told me not to cry because he needed to protect us and his daughter. “You believe – everything will be Ukraine!” he always said. I remember his words and I can’t always hold back tears. But I apologize to him and tell him that I am extremely intolerable.
What do I want right now? Wait for your kids. That I would be able to hug, and that I would be able to bring flowers to my son’s grave, because he always gave them to me. Even when bombs were being dropped on Azovstal. Then, on May 8, she and Lera ordered flowers for Mother’s Day. I received them after my son passed away. The courier delivered. I felt as if I couldn’t breathe any longer. I kept the most expensive flowers I’d ever seen. I’m dying to visit Mariupol. I need to find my son because his body has yet to be returned to us. As a result, we treasure hope, and we truly hope that our Andryusha will find peace at home, and that we will be able to bury him with honors, as he deserves. Meanwhile, we pray that the Lord will rest his soul in a bright and blooming place without sadness.
Every day, we hope. Just hope. It is difficult, but there is no other way”.