The first thing I remember were his bright blue eyes intensified by his sky-blue shirt when he came up to me and said “Privet!” It was November and I had finally decided to check out the Baptist church on Avenue du Maine. The church was a small, one-room sanctuary with wooden pews. When I stood up to introduce myself in my broken French some folks giggled good-naturedly. Later a sister sitting behind me explained that they were tickled by the coincidence that there is another Russian person in the congregation. So I wasn’t surprised when he came up and said Hi! to me in Russian.

In February I was on my flight back to the US, to visit my family for a short break before finishing my year abroad in Paris. I should have been excited to see them, and I was a mere 24 hours ago, but sitting there on that plane all I could think of was his hug goodbye and how I wanted to be back there with him. In San Diego I received a brief cheery email from him that said, “Hey, hope you landed well. See you when you get back. We await your return in Paris. A+”

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It was only years later that I found out that A+, if said in French, actually means “See ya”. But at that time I was thinking, strange fellow he is, why is he writing A+? Is this his way of saying that I am really swell?

I returned to Paris shortly thereafter. Followed the whirlwind of… folly? Madness? Temporary loss of sanity? Momentary lapse of reason? He proposed in March.

We wed in April. There was nobody at our wedding. Just us two. And the green fields of Germany where we fled for a three-day honeymoon.

I was pregnant in May, and in June, the day before I was supposed to move back to the States, I started bleeding. My husband dragged me to the doctor’s, and there at the very first ultrasound I beamed at how amazing the child looked inside. The doctor was not so enthusiastic. The fetus was too small for its age. In fact, it was no longer living. I was miscarrying. Blood tests were taken, still a minute shred of hope remained, (maybe? Maybe…? We can continue tests in the States…) and with no further action I was again on the plane, heading home, alone.

A few days later, writhing in pain on my bed, the natural process was near over. There was nothing anyone could do. Mom came in with a letter, addressed to me and looking very official. It was from the hospital that I had gone to in Paris. Myself curled in a fetal position, I tore it open, not knowing what to expect. Inside were the results of those blood tests, taken in France. In the blood type slot it said: A+

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Two months passed and I was a senior in college. I had changed majors from Biology to a double major in Linguistics and Religious Studies only two years prior, and spent the year in France, not earning many transferable college credits. As a result, I had to cram the upper division classes for BOTH majors into my last year. Fall semester I took 20 credits (with the full-time norm at 16), and then, for winter break, went to visit my husband who was still studying in Paris.

I became pregnant again, and boosted my course load to 22 for winter term. Spring came and I was showing, and still had too many classes left to take. In order to take over 20 credits you had to get written approval from the department head, and so I went, a round-bellied, waddling, desperate student, collecting approvals like charity. I received the OK for 22 credits, then for 24, and 26. I ended up taking 28 credits worth of upper division classes my last term – almost twice full-time.

Between nausea at midterms and munching incessantly at finals, I pushed on through class. In my heyday I was a pretty good student. I was able to earn good grades, but could not hope for a miracle.

Now classes were over. Finals had come and gone. A year and a half had passed since I first saw my husband’s blue eyes.

I was at my computer, trying to find my grades, to see if I had passed, if I was going to graduate. It was May again and I was due in September. Finally I found my name and opened my file. There was not much variety to my grades. They were: A, A, A, A, A…..A+.

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I felt something give within me. It felt good to cry.