The following is a letter I received from Liza, a mutual friend of Tatyana’s, my Kazakhstani friend from Almaty. I first met Tanya in the summer of 1993. She was one of my bridesmaids (wearing green) in both my weddings in Minneapolis and Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. I used the same bridesmaids’ dresses for my students to wear in the second wedding. I returned to Central Asia ten years later after Tatyana had died about May of 1997. Before her death, my husband and I had made a long distance call to Kazakhstan to contact her by phone in about March of 1997 but she could not talk by that time due to her thyroid problems.
My regret is that when I returned to Almaty in 2007, that I did not have the heart to look up her parents to see if they were still alive. We often live with such remorse and regret. My sadness was renewed when I recently re-read this letter from Tatyana’s friend Liza, informing us of her passing. If ever I return to Kazakhstan, I would like to meet this person named Liza, she wrote very eloquently about our elegant friend Tatyana Kazanina.
Nov. 5th, 1997
I am writing on behalf of Tanya Kazanina’s parents Ludmila Arvidovna and Michail Ivanovich. With the deepest sorrow we inform you of Tanya’s death on May 6, 1997. November 6th is a traditional memory day, half a year since Tanya died. We all and Tanya herself believed that she would recover, unfortunately that was a terminal disease. Tanya was extremely strong in spirit till the very last minute and fought the disease as much as she only could.
She was a wonderful person and beautiful in her perception of the world till the very end. Even though her sufferings and physical pain were unbearable, she never complained and remained clear in her mind and memory, open-hearted and open-minded as she had always been. She died peacefully in the presence of her parents at home. Since her death, there came a whole flow of sorrowful events, Tanya’s parents didn’t feel well, her father had an infarction and was treated in hospital. Now he is feeling better.
Tanya’s mother and I sorted out Tanya’s correspondence and found your address in Virginia. We do not know if you still live there, but we hope this letter will get to you somehow. Tanya held you in high esteem, she just loved you. She kept the warmest memories of you and other friends in the U.S. Even now, half a year since her death, it is difficult to believe that she has gone.
She loved life so much and had an enormous potential to go further ahead. We spent as much time together as it was only possible during her last months of life. She was wonderful; with all the pain she was living with, all endless sleepless nights and loneliness – in a sense that in her mind she was already somewhere on the other side, whereto we could not get. She enjoyed the life, preserved her sense of humor, her striving to know more, to develop herself, her sense of dignity. Even then she was a wonderful companion, we had great talks together when she could physically talk. Later on, we could talk only with our eyes.
Her parents were the most caring and supportive parents in the world, they did everything they could to help and encourage her. Tanya hoped to come back to the U.S., where she had had, perhaps, the most wonderful time in her life. She loved you all and appreciated you all very much and we would like you to know this.
Warmest regards to you and all Tanya’s friends in the U.S. whom we cannot reach.
Liza, her friend