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||| "I BEGIN TO BELIEVE"|||
RELATIONS WITH GOD


Olga Tagiltseva:
I used to say, God sees, God will help. I don’t anymore. He doesn’t exist, and I don’t believe in anything. As long as I’m taking care of myself, I’ll be fine. Everybody tells me it was God’s will; He needs angels. I disagree. I don’t believe, but, all of a sudden, I see some kind of a halo on Masha’s pictures. I have a little locket, and Sasha and I inserted Masha’s picture. It used to be clean. On the second day, we saw some kind of a halo around her head, like a little angel’s. I was startled. When I see it, I begin to believe in certain things.
Larisa Gutman:
Everybody’s got God in his soul. I wouldn’t say I’m some kind of a conventional believer. I just know one shouldn’t do bad things to others. Who knows what to believe? Shortly before Ilya’s death we saw a film about a boy who dies, and his soul tries to help his girlfriend . . . We saw this film just a day before his death and talked about it. About the soul — whether it is possible for a person to leave this world physically but for his soul to stay here. Ilya asked me why I was so interested in this. Some say God takes the best. Perhaps he needs these pure angelic souls. But that’s not fair. That’s not how it should be. It should be punishment for something, and I don’t think our children deserved it. Maybe they’re all in Heaven and are feeling fine — I don’t know.
Rita Abramova:
I don’t know if I believe in God. On the one hand, maybe I do — I survived. On the other hand, why did twenty-one people die? They were kids just like me, not one bit worse. Every child is a world. Each had a dream: to grow up, to go to college, to get married, to have children — and now none of this will ever happen. How are they any worse than I am? I suppose faith helps those who believe in God. Maybe the religious people believe that nothing bad will happen to them; they see things differently, period. The religious people who came to see us said, God giveth and God taketh away. Maybe for them the death of those close to them is less painful. I can’t have this attitude. It’s a human being — how can you give him or take him away? I just don’t know. I think when a person dies, his body disintegrates biologically, and nothing remains of it, and the soul is just a word in one’s mind. On the other hand, maybe really . . . Sometimes I look at a butterfly or a pretty bird and think, There’s Simona’s soul . . .
Raisa Nepomnyaschaya:
I’m not religious, but in my heart I believe. If God exists, I keep asking Him that my daughter be an angel in Heaven and that she be better off there than she was on earth. And if I ever hurt her, I ask her forgiveness and that she guard us, her whole family. I don’t understand why He takes away the best? But lately I have been noting a halo, a lit nimbus around her head and her hair on the picture on her gravestone. I wouldn’t believe it, but I saw it with my own eyes. I think God would like to show us that they’re saints. I believe it, and it keeps me alive. I believe that one day my soul will meet hers. And I pray every day that she should be fine where she is. When Irina was twelve, she wrote in her diary, “I believe in God very much. I love Him very much. And He always helps me.” If she believed, so do I.
Irina Sklyanik:
I have very mixed feelings towards God. Before this happened, I was a believer, but in my own way — in my heart. When this happened, I kept asking the religious people the same question: Why? Why did it happen to us — to her? She didn’t do anything bad in her life. She was innocent. If God exists, why did He take her? They told me that God takes the best. They even told me a parable: When you’re walking across the field, what kind of a flower do you pick? The prettiest, of course! And so does God — He takes the best. But that didn’t make me feel better. But now I think that my Yulia is fine, because she is in Heaven. She had always been lucky, and she was lucky in death . . . maybe it’s blasphemy, but we were lucky. Seventeen children died on the spot, some were torn apart, and their parents had to ID them in the morgue. While we managed to find her in the hospital, and she was whole, and we had a chance to say good-bye to her, to caress her, to speak to her, though she couldn’t hear us. But I believed that she had heard me. Not for nothing do they say that when a soul ascends, it observes us and hears everything. And so Yulia said farewell to everybody, saw us all, all of her friends, all who were with her in her last hours at the hospital. She must have left for the next world with a smile. And I believe that her soul is alive and sees us and is always with us.
Sveta Sklyanik:
When this happened, I got a prayer book and didn’t let it go until my sister’s death. I kept reading it and kissing it; I believed God would help her and leave her alive. Afterwards . . . I scooped up all the prayer books and threw them away. Now I believe in God — there’s someone up there to help us. If you don’t believe, then there’s no soul and no Heaven. And I believe that her soul is in Heaven, and it makes me feel better. Over there, she’s better off than we are here, without her.
Polina Valis:
Everybody believes in God. But if people loved and respected one another, we would not need God. We would just leave Him alone. We depend on Him because people hate one another. After the attack, I prayed for Emma to stay alive and gave thanks for my survival. But I can’t understand why He allows the suffering of the innocent. Many believers came to see me in the hospital and said that I was a “righteous” person because I remained alive, while I said it was unfair towards those who had died. I still can’t understand — how could God allow this to happen?
Anya Sinichkina:
It’s not easy to live without faith, but I manage. Someone may be helped by faith, but no one got me into it in my childhood. My parents loved me very much, but all my life I have been doing only things that I felt like doing. If I had been forced to believe in something, and I didn’t want to, nothing would have worked out. I read holy books since childhood, and I liked them. But I stopped reading them the moment my dad died. Just cut myself off. Yet after a lot of my friends died in Russia, and after this incident — I want to believe in Him. If there’s Heaven or Hell . . . I want to believe because I think that Ilya and Roman must be in Heaven, along with the other dead children — except for the terrorist, of course. I believe that God takes away those people who have already done all the good they could on earth. We would like them to be with us, but there’s nothing left for them to do here, just waste time, and so He takes them. I know that Ilya, Roman, Yevgenia — they all have lived the kind of life in their sixteen or nineteen years that others might not manage in sixty. They were very dynamic people, they found time for everything: fun, work, helping others . . . It was hard keeping up with them. The reason we are still alive may be that we are not finished yet with things to do. We still have things to do on earth, and that’s why we’re here. I don’t know: maybe it’s better Over There. I think maybe Hell is here and Heaven is there. I think the souls of the dead, even this Arab’s, are somewhere here, on earth. I heard that version and I believe it. Ilya’s mother told me that a part of the soul ascends, and a part is distributed among those whom this person loved . . . So I think maybe I have a particle of Ilya’s soul, too.
Nadezhda Derenshteyn:
I believe that He helps. He didn’t take me, after all. I believe in God. I know that He looks and judges. Believing is good within reason: you go, say a prayer, light a candle — that’s enough. Not like those Orthodox who only pray and do nothing else.
Bronislava Osadchaya:
Irina was a believer. Just before all of this happened she confessed to me, blushing, that she prays every night before going to sleep: for everybody’s health and well-being, for Mama, for Aunt, for Uncle, for Andrei. I feel differently. We are materialists, that’s how we were brought up. I can’t say I believe in God. I hope He exists, and there should be some sort of supreme justice — that it’s all not in vain. Now I have my hopes in Him, perhaps because it suits me to hope I’ll meet her in the next world. If He doesn’t exist, then I can’t even hope for it. This is really not belief. It’s hope. It keeps me alive. If I die of sadness, it’s not suicide. I want to believe and I hope for it.
Ivan Lupalo:
I don’t believe now as much. I used to come to work and start my day with saying Our Father prayer, praying for my children and family. The night it happened, while Lyubov peered into the TV screen looking for Aleksei, I was kneeling in the other room and praying to God: if You want to take someone from my family, then take me, but keep Alesha safe and sound. Now — it may be a sin, but I started having doubts. Why did He take Alesha? Why did He punish us — we did only good unto others and never sinned.
Lyubov Lupalo:
How can I believe? We prayed every day . . . He didn’t help.
Lyubov Nemirovskaya:
At school and college I was an atheist — that’s what we were taught. Here in Israel, something changed in me. Ever since I started believing, I feel relief. Such grief makes you believe that the person you feel close to is doing well after death, in Heaven. God takes good people before their time, and it’s not up to us.
Marina Berezovskaya:
I really want to believe that her soul went to Heaven, otherwise I’ll have to think that she is no longer, that she is just in her grave in Givat Brenner. But I can’t bring myself to believe in God. Her best friend drowned a year ago, and Liana survived. Then she believed that God had saved her, that nothing bad would happen to her in Holy Land, that everything would go well. She believed what I couldn’t. But I would like to.
Mark Rudin:
I think God exists, and Simona’s soul has moved to a higher plane. She sees us from there, and whenever we feel well, so does she. That’s the only thought I live with. In my heart, I believe in God. I believe and I feel I will see Simona yet.
Irina Rudina:
I don’t believe we descended from an amoeba either. I believe that when someone dies, their soul remains alive. Which means that some day we will all meet in Heaven.
Victor Medvedenko:
I don’t believe in any God specifically. But atheism is a belief, too. I read a lot about life after death. I want to believe it exists. But, once again, the believers are blessed. I’d like to believe, but I can’t force myself to.
Yevgenia Djanashvili:
I used to believe. Now, I don’t know. What have I done wrong that God did not keep my son alive? Now I no longer know if God exists. I have lost my son, and I’ll never see him again. For a mother, it is important to have a son at her side, rather than a soul somewhere. We need to have our children at our side in order to rejoice in their life and their children. But in one moment, everything got broken. Even if you think there’s his soul some place, it doesn’t make things easier. Not at all.
Faina Nalimova:
Before this happened, I believed and I did everything properly. Now I don’t believe any more. So young they were to be taken away from me! I don’t believe in anything anymore. When the religious ones come by, I run away.
Alla Nalimova:
I’m not religious, but I think God exists. True, belief helps in life. But not always. While I was looking for the girls, I prayed so hard for them to be alive . . . But the soul remains, and I think they’re always with us. I felt them flying around, both the first week and the first month. I think they’re much better off in Heaven than here. Some say that they were so beautiful and perfect in life that God didn’t want to wait and took them away. Because He needs angels. But we can’t come to terms with it. And we don’t want to.
Igor Shaportov:
You can’t live without God. Whom do you rely on? Yourself? Without God, there’s an emptiness. God punishes those He loves. Children suffer, but nonhumans who force others to go out and kill go on living. They’ll answer for their deeds. I believe in the afterlife. What is body? You come from the earth, you go back into the earth. Soul, that’s different.
Irina Blum:
At the moment it happened, I said there was no God. How could He allow this? So many people in the world who want to die, who got nothing, neither home nor family, and God spares them. I think it’s all in your hands.
Faina Dorfman:
When Yevgenia was in the hospital, I prayed all the time. I begged God that at least she doesn’t get worse. But after she died, I said, I don’t play these games anymore. Everybody’s got a God in his heart, everybody believes in something. Maybe I was punished for my sins — but why my child?
Natalia Panchenko-Sannikova:
I had always believed in God, up to the moment I lost my son. And then I kept asking myself, What kind of God is He? Where is He? Can He be just if He took away my son? He was a wonderful boy. He truly was of God. That must be it: God gave and God took away. I don’t know how else I can put it. I was confused a little. I thought, I had a hard life, and such a nice son would be my reward. Now it seems like there’s no reward. I believe in migration of souls — in reincarnation. I believe his soul would be in someone. Be it my future baby or a stray kitten we pick up — I don’t know. But I believe in it. The killed children have to be in Heaven. Why does He allow the innocent to suffer? There are two explanations. One is, the good and the kind are needed there, too. And the second one, If He allows it, that must be necessary.
Maksim Malchenko:
I believe in God, but in my own way. I believe He exists, but that’s it. It is not up to us to judge who is right and who isn’t. Maybe He decides that a certain person would be better off there than here. No one knows that. I have always believed that soul remains after death. But after the attack, I believe in it even more. A girl I was in the rehab with told me she remembered sitting above herself, watching herself, and begging herself to wake up! It was exactly at the moment of the explosion. I don’t know what it was. Maybe a hallucination. I heard that after the clinical death people have said they had seen a white corridor and long-dead relatives . . .
Nadezhda (Maksim’s mother):
Our family is not religious. But in a difficult moment, you must turn to God involuntarily. When Maksim got into trouble, the only thing that was in my head was, God — if you exist, take my life, but leave my child’s life alone. I just had this one thought going in circles, like a broken record. And now every time Maksim leaves the house, I keep thinking, Lord, just make everything normal, so that he makes it there and makes it back — Lord, help us!
Victor Komozdrazhnikov:
Maybe I used to believe in God, but not after what happened. The only thing that keeps me going is the belief that they’re with us, they never left, and everything will be fine. It’s not just me — my friends who were also wounded at the disco, whose friends and relatives died — they believe it, too. I spoke to some of them. When I’m at home, I know Diaz is somewhere around. I feel his soul next to me.
Tatyana Kremen, Diaz Nurmanov’s mother:
There must be a God. But where is He when such terrible things happen? Why doesn’t He watch over our children? Why does He allow this to happen?
Raisa Belalova:
I believe in God. He was with me at the time of explosion. He helped me. I came out of it all right. Compared to others, I was lucky.
Sasha Belalov:
I thanked Him for letting me stay alive.
Katya Pelina:
When I came to in Critical and opened my eyes, I saw a girl in front of me, hooked to every piece of machinery you can imagine, and her mother in a wheelchair, holding her hand and crying silently, because she had no more tears. And on the other side of the bed, there was a woman reading Torah. It was so painful. I started to pray for this girl, too. But she died anyway.