Sunday, February 13, 2005

I learned yesterday that my best high school friend is a mother now, and it's hard to describe how happy I am for her.

When my friend was 16, a doctor told her after a quick routine exam that she'd never be able to conceive. She didn't recommend any treatment, nor did she provide an in-depth explanation. The doctor was considered one of the best ones out there, parlty because she claimed to care about her patients and to understand their feelings, rare qualities for a Soviet gynecologist. It happened 14 years ago, but I still remember her last name - Ilyina. And I couldn't forgive her all these years - because it's hard to ignore such a verdict from someone you're supposed to trust, and yet, as a professional, she sure knew about all the miraculous exceptions to the stupid rules and shouldn't have tainted a young girl's life like this.

The mean doctor's judgment was just a tiny part of my friend's trials, though.

Her father went nuts at some point and started hitting on teenage girls, finally marrying one and having three kids with her. Then he went nuts again and started adopting orphaned teenage girls. He ended up in jail, after one of his adopted daughters accused him of molesting her - a charge I personally have all reasons to believe.

My friend's boyfriend was jailed, too, for some kind of scam he got himself into.

My friend's mother and aunt also spent a few years in custody, in horrible conditions, also for alleged financial crimes.

I learned about all this, including the news of her motherhood, from other friends or from newspapers: my friend and I stopped being friends 13 years ago, unexpectedly and without any good reason. We saw each other briefly twice since then, in 1994 and 1995, and the last time I spoke to her on the phone was in fall 1998. I've always missed her and our friendship terribly, but the more I was learning about these heartbreaking events in her life, the more scared I became of facing her: she must be a totally different person from the one I used to know and adore. Maybe not, but I'm still scared.

I could probably write a book about it all - and at the same time I really lack words to describe how happy I am that my friend and her boyfriend have a baby now...

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