Tiny love story: ‘When you hate your husband’

Sometimes, when I hate my husband, I think about our place in Boston and the night a skunk fell through the basement window outside our bedroom. “That’s not a kitten,” John said when I woke him up. Anyway, he came to the rescue, out in the rain and darkness with a beach towel and an iron. I can still see him, wet and shivering, grinning at me as the skunk climbs out and waddles. I think about that man and the beautiful absurdity of that moment, and even as I hate him, I love him. – Cara Byington

I learned that my father was a spy for a complete stranger. “This is the CIA base,” said the guard, handing me a form to sign. At the age of 20, I had long suspected this. However, I’m still angry that my dad didn’t tell me. Choosing to break my family’s secret history, I became gay, which my father denied. I’m done with him. But in his 70s, something changed. He invited me and my wife to visit. He never said, “I accept you,” but I can tell he did. Just like that, I was no longer angry. – Leslie Absher

My best friend, Debbie, was 28 years old and died of cervical cancer. “Impossible,” I thought. I sat by her bedside, clinging to the illusion that she would heal. “Leave it out until you can really be with me,” she yelled. I handled that by traveling 300 miles, from New York to Maine. Months later, I woke up at 3 a.m. after having a dream about Debbie: She smiled and said, “Holly, I understand now and I love you.” My sister called the next day. Debbie died at 3 a.m. – Holly Lau

When my husband and I say, “Good night; I love you” to our three children, both our eldest and youngest will naturally reciprocate. Our middle son won’t. Even though he talked beyond our ears, any questions we asked dragged on and never found a connection, as if he couldn’t hear. When he was four, his tantrums worsened until a doctor gently said, “It’s autism.” We realized that our language needed to change. We started sharing scripts with him for daily conversations, captioning our feelings. Things didn’t go well, but at age 6, our son replied, “Good night; I love you too.” – Julie Zhuo

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