Tiny Love Stories: ‘His Wife Invited Me Over’

At the Hanoi orphanage, 4-month-old Leo would not meet my eye. Good! Leo’s withdrawal suggested he was attached to his current caregivers. If, after being separated from his birth mother, he attached once, he would likely attach again. Our first night, Leo cried inconsolably as I held him. His 12-pound body had already absorbed so much disruption. After hours of pacing, I opened our balcony door. The sun was rising onto our first full day as a family. I looked down at Leo’s face and saw the beginning of a smile. “We’re going to be OK,” I promised. — Anna Monardo

After connecting online, Shawn suggested we meet at a boxing class. Nervously, I told him I walk with braces and crutches, expecting hesitation. “Let’s meet anyway,” he said. When I committed to the New York City triathlon without knowing how to swim, he gave me swim gear for my birthday. Five years after meeting, we married; that same year, his support propelled me to become an Ironman World Champion triathlete. Shawn transported my gear, biked alongside me for safety and drove hours for me to do open-water swims and training. His unwavering belief in me defines our extraordinary journey. — Minda Dentler

In those early months of isolation and despair, when Covid hit and my wife left, I made a set of tiny cards with affirmations, placing them strategically throughout my apartment. Encountering them always felt like a surprise attack. LOVE YOURSELF. They refused to disappear into the décor. YOU ARE LOVEABLE. Grief crashed over me like a wave, but healing was like tide receding, imperceptible, until eventually the fear of drowning passed. YOU ARE ENOUGH. It felt right to release these paper notes-to-self at the beach, depositing them between rocks, in driftwood crevices and in the sand for others to find. — Emet Davis

His wife invited me over. “He’d love to see you,” she said. She greeted me at the door, led me to where he sat in his wheelchair and left, giving us privacy. For five years my college sweetheart and I had danced, made love, spent weekends camping. Twenty years later A.L.S. had stolen his ability to walk. When he talked, I struggled to understand, but I recognized his laugh. By next summer’s visit, he was robbed of his voice. The following summer he was a sweet memory. I’ll always be grateful to his wife for giving us that time together. — Frances Scott

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