Tiny Love Stories: ‘My Body Told a Different Story’

‘The Daughter She Needed’

The day my 80-year-old mother announced she was moving to my town for the rest of her life, I was so shaken, I couldn’t remember how to set the table. Three thousand miles separated us for a reason. She had betrayed and refused to support me at the worst moment of my life. Two decades later, she and her dementia arrived, challenging me to cross a chasm of ambivalence and distrust so I could become the daughter she needed. Her decline pushed every button I had, but before she died, my rusty, wounded heart cracked open. — Laura Davis

After many embattled years, we finally got here.

Don’t Touch the Art

I was staring at a sculpture that looked like chaos dressed in hot pink when I felt the tickle of his beard against my cheek. The words “You’re a masterpiece” were a warm whisper against my ear. The docent told us not to touch the art, but his arms wrapped around my body tight, like canvas stretched across a frame. We stood there, suspended in time and space, as if his love for me were also worthy of display. — Najla Brown

Looking at a Jessi Reaves sculpture at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston.

Anatomy and Us

I swallowed my feelings as my gloved fingers accidentally brushed against my lab partner’s. “Here’s the appendix,” he said. “Here’s the pancreas,” I replied. His warm, intelligent eyes peeked over his mask. I almost drowned in them. He had a long-term girlfriend, so I didn’t mention that I studied him more than my textbooks that first year of medical school, or that I sometimes caught him watching me too. He admitted feelings for me. I told him to go fix his relationship. He listened. They broke up anyway. Now, 20 years later, we don’t wear gloves when our fingers brush. — Anita Vijayakumar

Together at my sister’s pre-wedding dinner.

What I Can Still See

I didn’t think I was grieving when my ex-husband died this summer, but my body told a different story. I slept poorly, overate and mistakenly drove toward our long-ago home, not my present one. Friends wrote sympathy notes, saying they hoped I would “treasure the good times.” It surprised me that I could. In the old photos our adult children asked for, I can see the pleasure we were having. I can see that my ex and I were nuts about each other. This may be another gift of aging: Without dismissing the awful times, it’s still possible to hold the joys. — Wendy Lichtman

On our wedding day in San Francisco in 1977.  

Sheltering in Their Place

In June 2020, hours after moving into an apartment, my daughter and I stood in the street holding our dogs, hypnotized by billowing smoke. We lost everything. Later, a friend asked how I was doing. “Living it up at the Hampton Inn,” I said, flatly. No questions asked, he and his partner opened their home. My daughter read to their children, our dogs claimed the couch and I sautéed my way through trauma, cooking gratitude into memorable meals. When we left, they gave me a key. I cried for the first time, realizing that the people we call family are home. — LaVonne Roberts

Back row, from left to right: me, Mahlon and Grahame. Front row, from left to right: my daughter, Alessandra, and their daughters, Tallulah and Harlow.

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