At 5, I believed that my father could perform magic. In Manila’s moist heat, he drove in stop-and-go traffic with five screaming children and a broken AC. If we were very quiet, he said, he would use his powers to make the billboard flip screens. We quieted and he chanted an incantation, waved his hand, then flicked his fingers in perfect sync with the billboard change. Goosebumps peppered my arms. No one talked until I begged him to do it again. He died when I was 10. To this day, magic is intertwined with my memories of him.— Rowena Leong Singer

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Carlos rubs my feet and kisses my toes when we lie under the sun near the Hudson River. I like to watch him. It soothes me to know someone so gentle moves through this world and has chosen to move through it with me. When he laughs his eyes crinkle, and he covers his mouth because he thinks his teeth are a mess. I think his teeth are beautiful. When it’s cloudy, he tells me not to worry, his dance will wish away the rain. What he doesn’t know is that it matters little — Carlos is the sun. — Madhuri Pavamani


From a refugee camp in Uganda, my mother, Safiya, calls to ask how I am doing in Canada. She has been listening to the BBC and heard that the cost of living is climbing in North America. “Please do not send me money until things get better for you,” she says. I am overcome with emotion, realizing that my aging mother, who fled civil war in Somalia, is more worried about me despite her vulnerabilities. As I navigate the pandemic, I am comforted by her love, which means so much more than the monthly 150 dollars I send her. — Muno Osman


The polar vortex of 2019 arrived in Montana, bringing snow, snow, snow and paralyzing cold. A single mother and cattle rancher, I drove my boys 50 miles to school, returned to feed my 200 cattle midday, then retrieved the boys through blinding whiteouts and ice, ice, ice. No help available, I pushed through alone. My truck tire chains disappeared in snow, frigid cattle cried, the neighbor’s newborn calves unable to survive. On Saturday, my 18-year-old son, Riley, saw my exhaustion. “I’ll help you plow.” Four hours later at -10 degrees, he stepped off the tractor. The road was open.— Jenny Kahrl