By Barbara Bush
September 27, 1999
Web posted at: 12:30 p.m. EDT (1630 GMT)
When I met RAISA GORBACHEV in 1987, the cold war still divided our countries, but it did not prevent us from becoming good friends. It was tough at first. We came from different cultures. Raisa passionately believed in communism and was not afraid to defend it.
But while our husbands were trying to resolve serious differences, Raisa and I discovered we were much alike. We talked about our children, how difficult it could be to live a public life, and of course we talked about our husbands. We both just happened to be crazy about the men we married. We also shared many adventures. I took her with me to Wellesley College, where we both gave commencement speeches. We took a wonderful trip down the Moscow River, and George and I spent a weekend with Mikhail and Raisa at Camp David. Even when the talks between our husbands were tense, the four of us could relax as friends.
In 1991, when the Gorbachevs were virtually held prisoners in their home during a coup attempt, my heart broke for Raisa. I knew she must be scared–for her husband and her country. So George and I both shed a tear when we learned of Raisa’s death. We mourned the loss of a friend; we mourned the passing of a fascinating woman who gave much to this world; mainly we mourned for Mikhail. Theirs was a great love story, and we know he’ll miss her terribly.