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Tiny Love Stories: ‘A Child I’ll Never Meet’

Walking home, I stopped before a poet for hire and told him I’d had eggs retrieved from my ovaries to create a child I’ll never meet. I expected him to be shocked, but he’d just learned that his mother has other children, so he understood, in a way. He sees strangers with her dimples on the train and wonders. To the child I imagine: I have tried to do something useful, but I’ve also tried to create strangers whose faces I might recognize on the train. I kept the poem in case one of them is ever you. — Kathryn Phelan

Minh says I’m hard to buy gifts for. Yet every day I anticipate him coming home with little offerings: cookies wrapped in napkins sneaked out of faculty workshops, a bottle of sanitizer, a ChapStick from a job fair. When Minh gives larger gifts, he often confuses the holidays. Among Christmas presents? A “Most Wonderful Mom” button. For my birthday? Books and a pumpkin-shaped eraser. Next year is our 25th anniversary. I will pretend to sneer as I unwrap each gift. Then laugh. It’s not easy to please a woman already content, a woman who has the best life can give. — Nhi Huynh

A two-flat house, my grandparents’ little “slice of paradise” in bustling Chicago, raised generations of our family. But when my grandma turned 94, it became too much for her to live there alone. I was distraught when she died three weeks after we moved her out of her beloved home. Near the six-year anniversary of her passing, my mother and I drove by the house to see it. Surprisingly, there was a “for rent” sign in the lawn. Now I wake up there every morning, look at my grandmother’s photo on the wall and tell her, “We made it home.” — Kathryn Jaslikowski

Jim was a striking combination of three friends I had crushes on, all of whom were straight. Luckily, Jim was gay and we shared a mutual friend who introduced us 42 years ago. It took Jim a while to realize that I meant to love him. I persevered until he reciprocated my feelings. We partnered and married. When Jim became ill, I took care of him for six years as his eyes shone but his body became a shadow. Now I’m on my own again, looking not for a duplicate of Jim but a complement. It’s tough at 77! Persevere. — Gil Narro Garcia

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