Tiny Love Stories: ‘He Said We Were Missing “The Magic”’

Since childhood, I yearned for love. Once, I came within weeks of marriage before it abruptly fell apart. He said we were missing “the magic,” and, admittedly, he was right. A few men came and went. I’m now 59 with Stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. I still don’t have a partner, but I’ve fallen desperately in love with life. Exquisite beauty emerges everywhere: my cat on my lap, a cashier extending an unexpected smile, sunlight skipping across a lake. I use each day to soak up the world’s splendor. “Not yet,” I whisper to the heavens. “I love it here.” — Clare Cory

I knew Pete loved me, but I wasn’t sure he’d fallen for my 5-year-old until he hoisted her onto his shoulders after a day riding roller coasters. Over too many beers on our first date, I’d told him everything: how I was still slogging through a divorce, living in a house that wouldn’t sell. How my daughter had medical issues I had yet to unravel. Everything felt so complicated, and I expected him to run. But as he beamed holding my daughter that day, Smurf-blue ice cream trickling down his forehead, I could see he was all in on messy. — Shelley Mann Hite

After I came out to my father at 18, little more was said about it. But 30 years later — loopy from hospice medications one afternoon — he told me that his closest friend had been a gay engineering colleague. He said the man was brilliant, funny and died of AIDS in the early ’90s. The way he beamed with joy remembering his friend helped me understand that his silence had never been disapproval; it was an acceptance of facts. That afternoon he was, as he had always been, a father who fully embraced his son with love. — John Garrison

My dad’s Hinge profile showed his pandemic scruff, cheeky smirk and favorite frayed T-shirt. He claimed his strength was listening but added the caveat that he “may not agree with you.” He called it “rugged charm”; I disagreed. After several matchless months, he let me give his dating profile a millennial makeover. We swapped out his old photo for one of him clean-shaven with a bright smile in the outdoors. We revamped his prompts to highlight his superhero dad qualities and love of movies. My dad’s Hinge profile no longer seemed unhinged. Two months later, he had a girlfriend. — Fiona Chin

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