Tiny Love Stories: ‘My First Spring Without Her’

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I started cleaning our apartment so I could take photos to remember it by. My husband was retiring, and we were moving from New York — leaving the place where two lonesome apartments combined into this one; where two single people combined as a pair; where I, at 63, had lived longest. What I really wanted was to remember our home in all its chaotic glory: open sardine tins, piles of papers and books. So I stopped tidying. You’d think this mess was caused by moving, but really it was created because we were living. — Jill Lipton

Unlike the other trees Nanima planted at our home in Pakistan, I dislike this mango tree. Mango trees mean mango bugs. Three years ago, one of the mango tree’s branches touched my bedroom balcony, allowing bugs to infest my space. “Those bugs, they petrify me!” I said. (Although an adult, I was a baby in front of Nanima.) The next morning, she cut her beloved tree’s branch. Only a grandmother can love like that. This is my first spring without her. The tree will blossom, the bugs will come, but I won’t have Nanima to hear and appease my fears. — Rasti Iqbal Jamil

After four years of texting, we were finally going to meet. My father had died. On my way to my family in Venezuela, I stopped in Colombia, where my online lover lived. He had me at my most vulnerable. For three days, we loved intensely, making promises about marriage, dreaming of canary-yellow diamond rings. I left for work. Our dreams sustained me. Then we broke, and I broke too. My only satisfaction is the Pablo Neruda poem I left in his room. It reads: “Cuantas veces, amor, te soñé sin verte?” How many times, love, did I dream of you without seeing you? — Sebastian Cabrices

In 2017, my friend since 1979 had spinal surgery. I stole time from my vigil to purchase a hospital coffee. Distracted, I left my purse behind, and it was stolen. Security insisted my wallet — with driver’s license, personal information and family pictures — would turn up. It did not. Weeks later, an envelope arrived at my former office at the University of Wyoming. Return address? None. Just: “Found Scattered on Street.” Contents: faculty ID, library card, a nearly empty gum packet, one stranger’s kindness and the warmth I feel for someone I have never met. — Pamela Galbreath

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