In a life well and luckily-lived, you get to meet a lot of people who mean incredible things to you. But even in those lives, there are a few who stand out, about whom you consider it a great and good fortune to have intersected with them. There are so many roads and paths, dim alleys and twisted warrens, that every life finds itself plunging down, so when you actually come across someone who changes your life, it’s astonishing.
One of those rare people in my life is Nadja Halilbegovich, and meeting her was lucky in more ways than usual: Nadja is a child of war, trapped in Sarajevo during the monstrous siege, escaping in a fraught journey that ended in America, educated at Butler (go Bulldogs!) and who now spends her life talking to people about the experience of children bombarded by war, whose lives are ripped from them, sometimes physically, but always emotionally, by horrors they can’t comprehend for reasons that never make any sense. Her book, My Childhood Under Fire, is a searing diary of pain, fear, and hope, written as a child who has seen more than most of us ever will.
Nadja’s message of peace, forgiveness, and most importantly, of the strength to live a life full of joy and laughter and chocolate, even while still bearing the scars of war, and the trauma of remembrance, have inspired people around the globe. I don’t know many people with the spirit and the courage and the sly sense of humor and curiosity and intelligence and kindness and intensity of feeling as Nadja, and am honored to call her my friend.
Anyway, she’s blogging now. The message and the lessons she has are sadly always relevant, in all corners of the globe. You should read it.