When I lifted the baby girl to my chest, it was love, overwhelming and instant. Then came the Spider-Man light-up shoes. The short haircut. The six-pack of superhero undies from the boys section. The tantrums over having to wear a top at the pool. The revelation that a different life was possible. The trying of new names. The telling of family, friends, school. And now our love is different, new. The love of mother and her 8-year-old son. The loving of someone for who they truly are, not whom you had imagined them to be. — Kate Streip


During my first shelter-in-place “date,” I saw myself watching him looking at me on the video call. Despite my best efforts, I was consumed by my mannerisms. Do I always tilt my head like that? Does this look like a neutral smile and not a grimace? The experience was alienating and unsettling. It increased my anxiety and crippled our conversation. Still, we decided to meet for an in-person picnic, where I could only see his face, not mine. We’ve been dating since. — Kate Sautter

I met Ashley while moving a sofa out of a walk-up in Minneapolis. Six months later, we went to a political fund-raiser. The organizer asked us how we knew each other. I said we were friends. She said, “We’re dating.” Later, I said, “Are we dating?” We had been spending all of our free time together, but I didn’t know. Ashley said, “Yes, you’re my girlfriend and I’m your girlfriend. I was in love with you the moment I met you.” We’re celebrating our anniversary this month. However, if you ask Ashley, she would say our celebration is long overdue. — Clare Baumgart

My grandmother’s purse sat open and unattended on a park bench in the 1950s Bronx. Alarmed, my young mother said, “Mom, your purse is open!” “It’s OK, honey,” my grandmother said. “If someone takes it, they need it more than I do.” In that moment, my mother’s young world took on a new hue. They were a poor Jewish family of five living in a small two-bedroom apartment. They barely got by. Yet, my grandmother left her heart and purse open to those who needed it most. — Deborah L. Staunton