By Orla Guerin
BBC News, Ukraine

Image caption,

Myhailo and Maryna with their grandson, who survived the attack

"He was everything I could ever dream of, an example of what a man should be," says Maryna. "He was the centre of our family, our fortress and our heart. He made my most secret dreams come true."

Maryna's husband of 34 years, Myhailo, was killed by Russian forces on 6 March, in the commuter town of Irpin, on the outskirts of Kyiv.

This is the story of one shell that hit one flat and destroyed one family, but almost three weeks into Russia's invasion there are countless other families like this across Ukraine. Maryna wants to tell her story for the sake of Myhailo, 54, and their son Serhiy, aged 32, who was also killed in the attack.

Warning: Some readers may find details in this story distressing.

Image caption,

Serhiy died in his mother arms

We speak via video call, as Maryna is now sheltering with distant relatives in western Ukraine, along with her daughter Yanna and her grandson. The three-year-old is named Myhailo, after the grandfather he adored.

Maryna appears on my screen looking drawn and wearing black. And her words pour out, in a torrent of pain, grief and anger.

"When a person is killed somewhere, "she tells me, "the police look for the killer. There is a court case. The person is punished. Now it's not just one person being killed, it's many. The nation is being killed. I want the world to see who is doing this so that Putin and his regime bear the blame for the killing of my beloved ones."

Image caption,

This is the second time Russia's shadow has enveloped Maryna and her family

When the Russians began targeting Irpin, Maryna, her husband and son left their flat and moved to her daughter's home nearby. On the day of the attack, repeated shelling drove them down to the underground car park.

In the evening it was quieter, so they went up to the apartment on the 15th floor to collect some food and give her grandson a bath.

"We did everything quickly, "she said, "then we heard a thunderclap. Myhailo and Serhiy pushed us away - me, my daughter and my grandson. We managed to get out, but they didn't. I felt whistling in my ears, and something hot on my skin. I didn't know what had happened, but I knew I was alive."

A shell had hit the bedroom of the flat, and blown it away, from corner to corner.

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Outside in the corridor she started calling for her family and found her daughter and grandson, by touch. They were scared but unharmed - saved by a mattress which fell on top of them. "I started calling my husband and son," she says. "I was calling 'Serhiy, Misha'. My son replied. I followed his voice and found the flat. My husband was at the front step. If he had made it just a few more inches, out of the flat, that would have saved his life. The entire concrete wall fell on him."

Serhiy was alive, just. "My son was screaming 'Mum don't come here. Run! Run away from here and take Yanna and the baby with you." I realised he could not move. I said: 'Darling please wait, I will come back for you.'"

Maryna, Yanna and little Myhailo felt their way downstairs through the smoke and dust - step by terrified step. Down in the car park she begged neighbours to help. "The men went first, "she said, "in the blink of an eye. They came down and said someone was alive but there was nothing they could do. I asked for sheets and bandages and said I would go there myself," Maryna recounts.

Media caption,

Firefighters attend an apartment block in Obolon district after an air strike

"A woman doctor came with me. We found my son, still fully conscious. His stomach was ripped open, and his legs were broken. He said 'Mum, I can't stand it. Kill me now. My son died in my arms, not asking for anything, just cursing Putin."

Serhiy's plans died with him - his hopes of settling down and having a family. "I will never be able to see my son's children," says Maryna. "Putin did not just kill my son and my husband. He killed my family."

The bereft wife and mother has her own name for the Russian leader's "special military operation" as he calls it. She says it is a "special shelling operation". One house shelled might be a fluke, she argues, but not hundreds of houses all over Ukraine. She says the Russians targeted houses deliberately in Irpin.

"The tanks moved from one place to another, to get the best view," she tells me.

Image source, Getty Images

Image caption,

Most of Irpin's population has left

The 53-year-old angrily rejects Vladimir Putin's claim that his mission is to protect Russian speakers. "He didn't need to rescue me," she says. "I have never been oppressed. I have been speaking Russian all my life. I could travel. I could speak the language I wanted. I have started speaking Ukrainian as a form of protest (as have many others). Putin has taught me to love my homeland even more."

This is the second time Russia's long shadow has enveloped Maryna and her family. In 2014 she and Myhailo had just settled into their "dream home" in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, when Kremlin-backed rebels went to war with the Ukrainian government. They had to flee and settled in Irpin where history - or Russia's version of it - repeated itself.

In a bitter irony, many who fled the East started new lives in Irpin and neighbouring Bucha - both of which have suffered relentless Russian bombardment.

Maryna says each day is harder now, as her loss seeps through to the bone. "You wake in the morning and the person you are closest to is not there, the one who always said, 'good morning' and made you a cup of coffee. There's no-one who can come and hug you if you aren't in a good mood."

Image caption,

Maryna says her grandson is now afraid of loud noises, and asks if it is "the bad guys shooting"

Myhailo was a mechanical engineer and adored his family. "He was a father unlike many, perhaps because he spent all his time with his children," Maryna says. "When the grandson was born, he was the same with him. He taught him so many things".

She says she and Myhailo were "big dreamers", always planning for the future. Now in place of dreams, there is gnawing worry for the family she has left.

"My grandson doesn't know his grandfather and uncle have passed away," she says. "He is afraid of noise. When he hears a sound, he asks if it's the bad guys shooting. I need to save my daughter and grandson and get them away from the war."

For a short time it seemed they had outrun the threat by getting to the city of Lviv, close to the Polish border. But early on Sunday morning it too was attacked, with a cruise missile strike killing 35 people at a military training base.

In Ukraine it is now safe to assume that nowhere is safe.

Having been robbed of her husband and son, Maryna is begging Western nations to impose a no-fly zone. "I am asking you to shield the sky over Ukraine," she says. "Don't let them shoot at us. Ukraine is protecting all of Europe, and we will not manage this alone."

Image caption,

three-year-old Myhailo is named after his grandfather, who was a devoted family man

Ten days on, Irpin remains under fire, and most of the town's 60,000 residents have fled. Myhailo and Serhiy still lie unburied in the ruins of the flat - a torment for Maryna.

"My husband and son are still in that room," she says. "I could not bury them by myself. There is no funeral service, no doctors, and no morgue. I hope there is a way to bury them, with their names on the graves. I want there to be a cross, and I want to go to visit."

One shell, one flat and one family hold up a mirror to the brutality of Russia's invasion, and the agony of Ukraine.