Little love stories: “So fragile, I had to look away”

When I expressed my sadness about the sending of American troops to Poland in anticipation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, I was greeted with a remark that I often hear as a wife army: “This is the life you signed up for.” I fell in love with Marco in high school — before he enlisted, not knowing that half of our marriage would consist of FaceTime birthdays, our family moving every few years, and deployments given with notice. ‘one week. For me, it is the possibility of stability and family reunification, post-military, which I constantly renew. — Lea Jones

When I was born, my sister Zelda was a 6-year-old girl with pigtails. She claimed me as her own. As soon as I was able to walk around our farm in the South African province of Limpopo, I became his perpetual shadow. When Zelda left for boarding school, I was deprived. Although we remained emotionally close, the tidal waves of the following years took us to opposite hemispheres. After college, I moved to America. Sensing something was wrong, Zelda decided to visit me. She discovered me in a lamentable state, in the grip of depression. At 36, my sister took me as her own and brought me home. — Rachel Neel

The hardest part of dating remotely is the silence after our calls. Had that soft hum of empty space always been there? Moments earlier, the interaction of our voices was all I could hear. Sitting alone in my room, acclimatizing to the silence, I feel my phone vibrate. “I miss you,” Sophie said. Turns out she also heard the silence. Hours pass before we hang up and hear it again. This time the silence is a little easier to bear. — Hannah Gardner

Ambivalent and heartbroken, I broke up with Jeff, my first love, when he was entering medical school. We had known each other since we were 13 and 14 years old. After the separation, we stayed in touch. When my father died, Jeff arrived. When my mother needed a cardiologist, he treated her. Finally, something scary happened during my own test. “Bring me the echo,” he said, referring to an echocardiogram. I sat next to him, watching a video of my beating heart. He looked so fragile that I had to look away. “Normal aging,” he assured me. My heart, like our friendship, would live. — Kathy casriel

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