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Tiny Love Stories: ‘When I Hate My Husband’

Sometimes, when I hate my husband, I think about our place in Boston and the night a skunk fell into the basement window well outside of our bedroom. “That’s not a kitten,” John said when I woke him. He went to the rescue anyway, out into the rain and the darkness with a beach towel and an ironing board. I can still see him, soaked and shivering, grinning at me as the skunk climbed out and waddled away. I think about that man and the gorgeous absurdity of that moment, and even when I hate him, I love him. — Cara Byington

I learned that my father was a spy from a total stranger. “This is a C.I.A. base,” the guard said, handing me a form to sign. At 20, I had long suspected this. Still, I was angry that my dad hadn’t told me himself. Choosing to break my family’s history of secrecy, I came out as gay, which my father rejected. I was done with him. But in his 70s, something shifted. He invited me and my wife for a visit. He never said, “I accept you,” but I could tell he did. Just like that, I wasn’t angry anymore. — Leslie Absher


My best friend, Debbie, was 28 and dying of cervical cancer. “It can’t be,” I thought. I sat by her hospital bed, clinging to the delusion that she would heal. “Get the hell out until you can really be with me,” she yelled. I handled that by moving 300 miles away, from New York to Maine. Months later, I startled awake at 3 a.m. after dreaming of Debbie: She smiled and said, “Holly, I understand now and I love you.” My sister called the next day. Debbie had died at 3 a.m. — Holly Lau

When my husband and I would say, “Good night; I love you” to our three children, our eldest and youngest would respond naturally. Our middle son would not. Though he talked our ears off, any questions we posed lingered and never found connection, as if he couldn’t hear. When he was 4, his tantrums worsened until a doctor softly said, “It’s autism.” We realized that it was our language that needed to change. We began sharing scripts with him for daily conversations, captions to our emotions. It hasn’t been smooth, but at 6, our son replies, “Good night; I love you too.” — Julie Zhuo

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