At twelve years old, Nikolina Kulidzan was no stranger to the romantic confusion all of us feel when we’re coming into our teen years. But her story of missed love (gorgeously animated by The Moth Collective of the U.K.) is worlds different from what most of us have probably experienced.
In her entry to The New York Times’ ongoing series Modern Love, she retells how she survived the bombing of her home and, decades later as an adult, reconnected with her childhood crush, Marko.
Nikolina had fallen in love with a mischievous, rebellious wild heart at her school, and she was overcome with the thrill of being let into his exciting world of mischievous wonder. But one day, she continues, her school let out early. She had been eagerly anticipating a date with Marko that evening when he may finally kiss her, but that afternoon, her childhood home in the idyllic town of Mostar was destroyed. She didn’t see him again for nearly two decades.
16 years after Nikolina fled her hometown, in her new home in San Jose, California, she opened up an email.
It was from Marko.
They wrote back and forth feverishly until Nikolina was able to return, and when finally reunited back in Mostar, they had dinner, recounted their times together, and kissed. Nikolina’s story isn’t just a story of love lost and regained. It’s a story of fear and the triumph of hope. It’s a story we’ve all lived out in one way or another, and have gotten sick over. But what Nikolina reminds us of, though, is that we’re capable of making it through horrible trials, even the horrors of war or decades of waiting. There is hope waiting on the other side!
Watch the full animated retelling of this love story below.