When Pasha’s son, Leonid, came to visit from Ukraine, she lamented that he spent so little time with her. Leonid, in his youth, was a professional soccer player, a fact that Pasha is proud of despite the fact that it required him to be away often. One day during Leonid’s visit, wearing a red dress sent to her from family in Italy, she said, “I dressed nicely, yet Leonid doesn’t come.” Leonid instead decided to spend much of his trip visiting his cousin, Alex, Ana’s son.

Both Pasha’s sister, Ana, and her daughter-in-law, Ludmilla lament that same fact. “As you can see she has no one,” they tell me one evening, “She has no one to come visit her and she is very lonely.” Ana is even moved to tears that the family cannot do more for her.

Moldova is the poorest country in Europe and as a result life can be extremely hard. Ludmilla has to travel to Italy every three months to work to pay off the wedding of her eldest child, Ana’s grandchild, Ioana, and the family worries about Pasha’s death. “That would be a tragedy if she died,” she says, “We cannot pay for the funeral and my son, Pavel, will be getting married as well.” Ana cries to me, “Please do something for Pasha, please!” “I will try.” I say, but I little know what to do.

A common theme to the deportee’s story is that the story did not end after Stalin’s death. The larger story is about the social and political repression felt by deportees after they returned to Moldova, as well as the long process of building their lives back up after having everything taken away. The resilience of the deportees who experienced this history shows that through great pain, life does go on.

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