Tiny Love Stories: ‘Our Best Selves, Even If It’s Too Late’

By | January 7, 2020

Dominic moves with ease around the kitchen. There is no hesitation, no lingering. Recipes and measurements are nonexistent, but his food is always delicious. When Dominic cooks, the counters are spotless and the dishes clean. “Wash while you’re cooking,” he says. His hands are mysteriously baby-skin soft in spite of all the scrubbing. Dominic hasn’t told me that he loves me, unprompted, in days. But then he’ll look at me as I eat his food, our children sitting beside us. “Te quiero tanto” (“I love you very much”) is what I taste. — Susana Odriozola

“Your sister is in the hospital,” my mother said over the phone. “You need to come home.” I had no idea that Jenny, a 44-year-old suburban mother, would be dead from prescription opioids just six days later. Although blindsided by her fatal addiction, I was grateful for those final days in the hospital: feeding my sister, shuffling her to the bathroom, singing show tunes (her eyes always closed) and telling her I loved her. That’s what we do in the end: the messy, tender, heartbreaking things. We are our best selves, even if it’s too late. — Kelly O’Connor

I never see my old friends anymore. Neither does my wife. The extended punk-rock “family” of our youth is long gone. We’ve all drifted apart physically and emotionally. Our jobs changed. Our responsibilities changed. We changed. Making friends over 40 is hard. There isn’t much to bond over. The new connections we do form are tenuous, easily disrupted by the slightest inconvenience. Are relationships transactional? Do we simply have little left to offer? My wife and I feel alone, but at least are alone together. We cling to each other more tightly each year, hoping the other is enough. — Daniel Lee Perea

I’m 12 years old and sleep on a 6-foot bed. My bed is perfectly comfortable, but I have trouble sleeping. Nothing changes my terror of the night and its darkness — the darkness that crawls into dreams, turning them into nightmares. A few months ago, I asked my 8-year-old brother to sleep with me. Who knew this scrawny little kid could make such a change in my life? He helps me feel safe, helps me feel strong. He helps me sleep through those otherwise sleepless nights. — Vivaan Parikh

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