Anton Kuzik had been alone on the Canadian prairies for almost a year and somehow had survived the hardships that life had presented him. Nearly every day some sort of nasty obstacle faced him. Everything from sickness to famine reared its ugly head. But for Anton like so many other Ukrainian men on the prairies in the late 1800s and early 1900s the worst thing about the immigrant experience was that of being alone and isolated. There was nothing a man could do if he was alone with the constant thoughts of suicide having to be fought off. Keeping one's sanity and mental condition became the biggest concern facing a man in isolation.
When Anton arrived a year ago in October of 1894 he quickly moved to claim his stake and pay his ten dollars for 160 acres of land. But winter came quick and Anton had to work feverishly to carve a dug out in the side of a hill. And it was in this dugout where Anton would live for the winter. He would come out during the day to see the sunlight, if there was any, and get some fresh air. But the winter was extremely cold and he could not stay outside for long without freezing.
It was in the dugout of the hill where Anton tried to retain his sanity and he did this by thinking about life, the past, present and the future. He thought about his past life in the Ukraine and the miserable poverty and wretchedness he had grown up with, with famine a constant threat and disease all around him. His trip to Canada on the boat seemed to take forever and at times he felt like turning back, but there was nothing to go back to.
And now that he had arrived in Canada he had been hustled and lied to continuously. He now dwelled in a hole dug out in the side of a hill. Here he sat thinking about what the next day held, not knowing what he was going to do. All he could attempt to do was try to keep his mind occupied with positive thoughts but there was nothing really to be positive about. Or was their? Anton stood up in the dugout and hit his head on the roof. He began to pace the floor needing to walk hunched over to avoid hitting his head.
His mind raced as he paced the floor faster and faster. It was only the middle of December. He wondered how he was going to make it through until the April thaw. He picked up his rifle and put it in his mouth, and then put his finger on the trigger but changed his mind as he knew he would go straight to hell for taking his own life. The only option was he would have to suffer through the winter.
There Anton sat in the dark of his dugout. At one time he had counted off the days, then it became hours, then minutes and now seconds which made time move even slower. He then thought about the meaning of life and why he was here and what was his purpose. Was it to be miserable and struggle to survive? There had to be more to life than this. Anton then lay down and put his head on his bundled up jacket. He was tired of thinking about the same thing. As he fell asleep the last thought he had was that he hoped he would die in his sleep. This way God could not accuse him of suicide and would accept him into the kingdom of heaven.