Tiny Love Stories: ‘I See the Worst of Myself in Her’

Black Lives Matter

Sitting in beach chairs on summer sand, my mother said, “When I’m gone and pushing up daisies, on days like this, think of me.” “Don’t talk like that!” I said, not wanting to imagine her dead, in a grave, with daisies sprouting from the ground above. Twenty-one years of no longer imagining, I speak to my own children about mortality. Like I did, they resist imagining a world without their mother. Yet I hope they’ll remember my words. Recently, I’ve taken to socially distant walks in the local cemetery. There, I breathe in lilacs and remember days with my mother. — Kathy Curto

ImageLilacs in my local cemetary.

Four hours into our sibling Zoom call, alcohol and laughter led to a difficult discussion. My younger brother, Nick, revealed the pain he felt because I hadn’t opposed our extended family’s homophobic comments. Despite my efforts to show my brother solidarity through online activism, I had remained silent when our cousin questioned and judged his sexuality. Nick and I are both adopted from Russia, so we know firsthand that family is not defined by blood but by commitment and love. I was ashamed. But Nick’s message resonates: Performative allyship no more. Pride all day every day. — Anya Rehon

I jumped off my surfboard and felt my ankle snap. Crumpling into the waves, I cried out. Andrew scooped me in his arms and carried me to shore as I tried not to cry. We had just moved to America from Canada and were homesick. The hospital was so expensive; at home, it’s free. Andrew wheeled me through the halls in his wet suit, slipping, looking like Aquaman, refusing to leave my side. The nurses smiled and laughed. I lay back in the bed and knew in my bones that I would spend my life with this man. — Ivy Staker

My grandmother’s sister is small and joyful and eats with her mouth open. We email in Spanish. She tells me the coronavirus was started by the Illuminati. I ask her about Santiago, Chile, in the summer. I rarely speak with my grandmother even though we live only miles away. She’s easy to love, as most grandmothers are, but hard to like. I see the worst of myself in her: a cruelty, an impending bipolar diagnosis. How can I make peace with this? I medicate, accept my grandmother’s limits and email her sister often, expressing my love: “Cariño para ti.” (“Care for you.”) — Ren Weber

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