A few weeks before Russia invaded Ukraine, Valerie Glodan, wrote in a post on Instagram that she was living with “a new level of happiness” after she gave birth to her first child.
“Our girl is one month old now,” she wrote in the post, showing a photograph taken in late pregnancy. “It has been the best 40 weeks.”
But the chapter ended in tragedy on Saturday, when Ms. Glodan, 27, was killed with her three-month-old daughter, Kira, after a missile hit a residential area on the outskirts of the Black Sea port of Odesa, where they were staying. They had just moved in with Ms. Glodan’s mother, who was also killed in the attack.
The Instagram post and the violent death of a newborn broke through the daily reports of Russian attacks, whose randomness has caught many civilians — unable to flee or refusing to do so — in the middle.
“The war started when this baby was one month old. Can you imagine what is happening?” President Vladimir Zelensky of Ukraine said, in tears, at a news conference a few hours after the attack.
Five others were also killed when two cruise missiles hit the residential neighborhood in the Tairove district in the far western corner of the city and the number is set to rise given the extent of the damage, Ukrainian officials said. Photographs and video appeared to show extensive damage.
“I am filled with emptiness.” said one of her close friends, Oleksandra Iliashenko. She was “a bright light, full of life,” she said and added: “She gave me hope for our future.”
A few weeks before, Ms. Glodan had called Ms. Iliashenko to tell her that she was starting to feel uneasy about the mounting violence. She said she had moved her family from their high-rise apartment, close to Odesa’s airport, to her mother’s home in the Tairove district, which is further from the city center.
The two friends talked and agreed that if the apartment the family abandoned was hit, it would be time to leave Odesa. Instead, the mother’s home was destroyed.
The two women met while studying journalism at the University of Odesa, and since then their lives ran in tandem. After college they started their first jobs at the same time and found husbands who became good friends. They bought neighboring apartments and were always rotating through each other’s front doors, planning parties, exchanging pets, looking after plants and later, children.
“We were planning on raising our families together. She was always telling me that we were in our prime, with such amazing opportunities — she believed we had great lives,” Ms. Iliashenko said, between sobs. She spoke in a phone interview from Warsaw, where she has been staying for the past few weeks.
She described her friend as strong-willed and industrious with a warm sense of humor. She loved her work in public relations, but had a talent for painting and an ear for poetry. “She built everything that she had. I admired her very much,” Ms. Iliashenko said.
In the weeks following the invasion, the two friends told each other they doubted the war would come to Odesa, and they believed the conflict would be over in three weeks, Ms. Iliashenko said. They tried to distract each other by cooking meals together and dreaming up vacations their families could take when the war ended.
Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, reacted with anger on Twitter, saying the only objective of Russian missile strikes in Odesa is terror.
Ms. Glodan’s husband, Uri, who survived the attack, was around the corner at a shop when the missile struck, Ms. Iliashenko said.
Mr. Glodan, a well-known Odesa baker, had spent the lead-up to the Orthodox Easter weekend making cakes for sale, decorated in the blue and yellow of the Ukrainian flag. On Sunday, he posted a series of photos to his Instagram account, commemorating his wife, daughter and mother-in-law. “My dear ones” he wrote under the images. “You are in our hearts!”