As a Ukrainian journalist working as a consultant for Fox News, she told me that she was so busy and tired covering the Russian invasion that she could barely open her eyes in the morning.
She sent me a selfie that showed her wearing a helmet and bulletproof vest and updated me on her whereabouts. When we last talked, Sasha had just managed to leave the city of Irpin, which had been devastated by Russian attacks. She told me she was lucky to get out of the city safe and sound.
Despite the danger she faced, she cracked a few jokes and sent me memes because “you can’t get through it without humor,” as she once said.
Nine days later, on March 14, Sasha, along with Irish news cameraman Pierre Zakrzewski, were killed when their vehicle came under fire in a suburb of Kyiv. Fox News Correspondent Benjamin Hall was also injured in the attack.
When I first learned about her death, I couldn’t pull my strength together. In the initial hours, disbelief overwhelmed me.
I wanted to pick up the phone and call her.
My mind told me a story I wanted to hear: I would dial her up, and she’d laugh into the speaker and tell me everyone made a mistake. We would arrange to have coffee, and she’d tell me about another escape, another brush with Russian shelling in her quest to do what journalists do — bring the story to the world.
But then the reality came flooding back, and I knew silence is all I’d get on the other end.
Then came the questions. People kept calling, asking if I knew Sasha, and I realized I did not have a single bad word to say about her. She was bright, beautiful, smart, funny Sasha, who made movies and loved poetry and film. She was always hunting down the facts, boldly joining the Fox News crew to report from the front lines.
It was always nice to spend time with her — to do business or to have a glass of wine. To just be around her. She was only 24.
Before this, I never understood how people write memorials to their loved ones, but now it feels somehow like the only way to make it through.
It feels vital to capture the memories I have of Sasha: the woman whom I worked on music projects with, drank wine with in our favorite bars; the friend who inevitably became what all Ukrainian journalists must now become — a war reporter. And because of the war, this light is now gone.
As surreal as it is to think about, writing about my friend’s death is just the latest writing I’m doing on this war. Much of my professional life as a journalist has…