LITTLETON, Colo. — It took two days, two planes and two trains, but Olga Funk made it to Kyiv, Ukraine from Littleton, Colorado.
“I call it an adrenaline-pumping trip, for sure," Funk said.
Last month, Funk left Littleton behind to visit her hometown of Kyiv during the middle of a war.
She was determined to see her mother, Vira.
“When I arrived, she was still in the ICU, but things got a little bit better," Funk said.
Funk said her mother was hospitalized after she was hit by a scooter. Doctors were concerned about internal bleeding, so they ran a CAT scan. The test revealed a tumor.
“She does have stage four cancer, so [it's] just a matter of when she’s ready to leave this world," Funk said. "But I appreciate the opportunity to see her."
Funk booked her tickets not knowing if she'd be visiting her mother for the last time.
"Even the fact there's a war going on in Ukraine is not going to stop me from going back to Kyiv," Funk said before the trip. “It’s my personal decision, and I understand there is a danger. It’s a great danger, and I’m taking my chances.”
Funk made it to Kyiv and saw her mother transferred to a hospice-like facility in the city.
“When I saw her, it’s like I reconnected with my childhood," Funk said. "I reconnected with the person who gave me life.”
Life in Ukraine seemed different than the one Funk remembered growing up.
“It’s very devastating, heartbreaking to see that," Funk said.
She saw buildings from her childhood damaged or destroyed. Then, there was the routine sound of sirens in the city.
“Sirens go off, some people go back into the shelters," Funk explained. "Some people just keep walking on the street.”
Funk spent eight days in Ukraine living with uncertainty.
"You don’t know what’s going to happen next," she said. “I think I was more scared because I set my mind at the point where [I] just came to peace with the idea that I can die at pretty much every moment."
Funk made it back safely to Littleton about a week ago. She's not sure when she'll return to Ukraine.
“Hopefully, sooner than later," she said.
Funk isn't ready to say goodbye to her mom.
“I hope I will have another chance, but when I was leaving the hospital, I kind of like said bye to her without saying goodbye," she said.
Until her next trip, Funk will be grateful to be home.
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