Tiny Love Stories: ‘Why Aren’t You Married?’

My first friends were my cousins and siblings. After eating early family dinners, we spent many Sunday evenings sprawled across our grandparents’ bed. We lay sated, entranced by the television, our limbs crossing limbs, our heads lying on each other’s thighs and stomachs, like we were playing a great game of Twister. We were not prepared to be separated by life, loss and time. Despite our journeys away from each other, our bond could only be stretched, never truly broken. During the pandemic, we connected online. Now, in middle age, we came back together for a joyful Sunday brunch. — Tonya Coats

“Why aren’t you married?” my partner and I are frequently asked. After all, we’ve been a couple for 25 years, shared a mortgage, and his grandchildren see me as a second granddad. Does it take a marriage license to lend a relationship integrity? We like the Joni Mitchell line, “We don’t need no piece of paper from the City Hall keeping us tied and true.” Yet, at the first hint of the Supreme Court overturning the right to same-sex marriage, we’ll sprint to City Hall. The only thing worse than being told we should marry is being told we can’t. — Jim Brosseau

“Where’s your mother?” my 4-year-old granddaughter asked, after I explained I was her “mommy’s mom.” Her question knocked me sideways. “She died,” I said. “When I was younger than Luke is now,” I added, gesturing toward her blonde 18-month-old brother. “I have a picture,” I said, fishing for my phone. “What was her name?” Brooke asked. “Hannah,” I said. Brooke’s face broke into a beaming grin. “I love that name!” she said. “Two of my friends are named Hannah.” And with that, the remaining sadness I felt about my mother’s suicide lifted. I felt sure of my mother’s love. — Doreen Stern

My boyfriend, Chris, spent his childhood summers visiting his grandmother in Kadaň, a small Czech town. When his grandma died, he lost touch with his friends there. I encouraged him to reconnect, but he worried they’d changed. We recently visited Kadaň. Anytime we passed someone, I jokingly asked, “Is that anyone?” Each time, it wasn’t. But then, a man dressed just like my boyfriend walked by. “This has to be someone,” I said. My boyfriend stared in disbelief. It was Paja, his closest friend. Over dinner, Paja said that he had named his son “Kryštof,” in tribute to Chris. — Stephanie Parascandolo

If you are having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for a list of additional resources.

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