(NEW YORK) — Anastasiia Novitska was supposed to be wearing a lace wedding dress last week, surrounded by family and friends, while she exchanged vows with her future husband. She was instead forced to cancel the wedding and leave her fiancé behind as Russia invaded Ukraine.
“Basically, my life was destroyed just in one single night,” Novitska told ABC News Live in an interview on Friday. “We were getting everything ready for the wedding, we already started decorating the hall, all of the guests were booked, some of them were already in the city waiting for the wedding day and when I woke up early in the morning, I realized unfortunately, it’s no longer going to happen.”
The Russian invasion was a shock to Novitska, just like most of Ukrainians. She described the second day of the invasion, when her neighborhood was beginning to come under attack.
“I thought that everything would be safe in my city. But then on the second day of the war, on the 25th of February, while I was asleep I heard that bombs were attacking the airport next to me,” she recalled. “The attack was so hard that all of us were awake just in two seconds, we went into the underground, but thank God everyone was safe.”
She then made the tough but necessary decision to leave her home and entire life behind to find safety in Poland. Her fiancé stayed behind to fight in the war.
The United Nations says over one million people have fled from Ukraine since the fighting began. More than half of those refugees have fled to Poland, the U.N. says.
“I had to leave everything I had in my country, I had to leave my fiancé, I had to leave my relatives, my friends,” Novitska said. “When I walked into my room to say bye to my dress, which was hanging next to the wardrobe, I started crying because God knows when I will wear it again and if I will see those people who I left in my house.”
Novitska said she’s still in contact with her fiancé, and that he has called and texted her every day since they’ve been separated.
“At the moment he’s helping the volunteers to gather the clothes, food, water, and all needed stuff for our soldiers,” she said.
“He’s going to build the barracks to save the city in case tanks and soldiers come in. Hopefully, he will be safe, and I will see him again and he will stay alive,” Novitska added, while holding back tears.
While speaking with ABC News Live, a loud alarm that sounded like a siren began to go off on her phone. It was an alert from her hometown.
“They are having air bombs attacking,” she explained. “This was an alarm to go to the underground. There is a possibility bombs will come into our city. To be safe, it rings on my phone and radio to force all the people currently outside on in the house or in the flats to go immediately underground.”
Although she’s safe in Poland now, that’s one way she’s able to keep track of what’s happening back home.
Novitska said she hopes one day soon she will be reunited with her loved ones and be able to have the wedding she was forced to say goodbye to last week.
“I’m still hoping the next day that I will hear the magic words that the war has finished and that I can return back and start planning my completely new life,” said Novitska. “I know that everyone is praying for this, but we’re just hoping for better.”
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