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No parent wants to make that choice

September 4th, 2004 · 1 Comment

This morning I read Hostage crisis continues for anguished Russian town and I ached for mother Zalina Dzandarova:

BESLAN, Russia — Zalina Dzandarova cradles her son Alan as he sleeps with his small face buried against her stomach. He is the child that Dzandarova was able to save, the child she chose to save, really.

It is the other one, little Alana, her 6-year-old daughter, whose image torments her: Alana clutching her hand, Alana crying and calling after her. Alana’s sobs disappearing into the distance as Dzandarova walked out of Middle School No. 1 here yesterday clutching Alan in her arms.

Guerrillas armed with automatic rifles and explosive belts who are holding hundreds of hostages at the small provincial school in southern Russia allowed 26 women and children to leave. About a dozen mothers, like Dzandarova, were allowed to take only one child and forced to leave another behind.

“I didn’t want to make this choice,” a stunned-looking Dzandarova, 27, said in the reception room of her father-in-law’s comfortable house a few miles away from the school. “People say they are happy that my son and I are saved. But how can I be happy if my daughter’s still inside there?”

This article was written before the awful end to the hostage crisis later today.

All day I found myself thinking about this Russian mother and her dilemma. No parent wants to make that choice. The article describes how her 6-year-old was crying and calling for her as she left. Dzandarova had thought she could try to sneak both children out of the school, but guards saw through her plans and only allowed her to take one.

In my rational mind I can see how the escape of two is better than the possibility of all three dying. The violent end to the situation today only emphasized the wisdom of choosing to leave. At least Dzandarova knew one of her children was safe.

But I have daughters the same ages as Dzandarova’s children. And as I read the article, all I could imagine was how my 6-year-old would cry if I left her behind. She is at a stage where she is sensitive to my absence. If I go somewhere, she wants to know when I will be back. Putting down the paper, I could hear in my mind my daughter screaming for me. I don’t know what I would do if I had been in that Russian mother’s situation. I hope I never have to know. God have mercy on us all.

Through the day I found myself cherishing my children more. I kissed them frequently on the forehead and hugged them in my arms. I let them play music loud on their stereo and make a mess with playdough.

As we left gymnastics class this afternoon, I walked slightly ahead of my 4-year-old, who became upset, crying that I was leaving her behind.

“I would never leave you,” I comforted her. I didn’t have to wonder where I found those words or why they slipped from my mouth in a vow.

God have mercy. I pray tonight for those mothers and fathers, for the children, for the families, for the Russian people, for all who are suffering.

Tags: news

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 The Binary Circumstance // Sep 10, 2004 at 12:21 am

    Sophie’s Choice in the Russian School Terrorist Attack

    Julie Leung writes of her reaction to the Russian mother who had to make a real-life Sophie’s Choice during the recent terrorist attack on a Russian school: All day I found myself thinking about this Russian mother and her dilemma.