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Tiny Love Stories: ‘The Most Beautiful Man I Had Ever Seen’

In some pre-fall cleaning, I waded through more than 2,500 family photos. Only one made me cry. It wasn’t the image of me in my parochial school jumper but my mother’s note on the back of that picture: “Oct. 1964. Lorraine first grade. My first day of work.” She became a single mother when I was 2. After years out of the work force, she returned as a telephone company operator. Many of the employees were younger. My mother must have been scared. But she did it for us, and in 1984, she retired as an executive at the same company. — Lorraine Duffy Merkl

The picture my mother took on her first day back to work.

My lover’s personality was bright and airy. He often spoke in superlatives: It was the tastiest meal he had eaten, the brightest sea he had seen. He made me believe in a world of pleasurable extremes. Enchanted, I dropped my cynicism and leapt. I told him that he was the most loving person I knew, the most beautiful man I had ever seen. He was silent in response. I knew he loved me and I loved him, but the lightness of his existence became unbearably heavy. — Melanie Wong

When my second baby was born, I learned that he would not walk or talk. Back then, his 2-year-old sister wanted me to spin around the room for fun. I did, hiding my tears. All I could think was, “My son won’t be able to spin.” Over time, he missed every milestone except smiling. Years later, I tuck my hands under my son’s arms to lift him. We play music and spin while a disco ball lights the room. He squeals while his legs flail, his smile so contagious it ends up on my face too. — Jaclyn Greenberg


In college, I would cuddle my dog and wonder if the overwhelming affection I felt for him was what people experienced when they were in love. Confused about my sexuality and frustrated that I couldn’t seem to love a man the way I thought I should, I resigned myself to a life without human connection. Now, at 27, celebrating my one-year anniversary with a woman who makes me swoon, I feel a softness toward my younger self. I wish I could tell her there was never anything wrong with her heart. — Lucy Murnane

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