Tiny Love Stories: ‘What Will You Miss if You Leave Him?’


I woke to Nkozi’s arm around my waist. “I had another money dream,” she said, her brow furrowing. We were barely scraping by that year. Nkozi had a lot of money dreams. “Wanna borrow my dream?” I asked. She answered in a formless hum. I pressed my lips to her temple and told her about quahogging on the beach where I grew up: digging in the sand for the quahogs, scrubbing their shells until they looked like bone, enjoying fritters and chowder. I whispered until her brow was smooth and her head was heavy in the crook of my arm. — Serena Libardi

After witnessing my parents’ divorce, I swore my life would be different. When I got divorced in my late 30s, I saw a psychologist to deal with the guilt of leaving my workaholic attorney husband and potentially hurting our children. “What will you miss if you leave him?” she said. “Sitting at a dinner table, having meals together,” I said. “But, how can you miss what you’ve never had?” I felt a gut punch; we’d rarely shared family meals. “Is that what you missed as a child?” “Yes,” I replied, finally letting myself mourn my past and present. — Kerrie Houston Reightley


Sometimes the mind slips into dark places. On one such day, I was in the kitchen when my mind busied itself thinking about all I hadn’t achieved. Juggling a career and motherhood, I wished I had more time for both. Believing myself to be alone, I muttered, “What am I good at?” Behind me, quite unexpectedly and matter-of-factly, without a moment’s hesitation, my 6-year-old piped up in his precocious way. “But Mom, without you there would be no laughter.” Nate is almost 33 now, living on the opposite coast. Thankfully, laughter still lights our way on dark days. — Nancy Rae

In the early 1970s, as a college freshman in Iowa, I met a guy who was only interested in me as a friend. We played pinball (he liked the way I leaned into the flippers) and watched movies. David wasn’t much of a cook (he used a shoe box as a dish drainer) so I was surprised when he invited me for dinner on Valentine’s Day, presenting me with grilled chicken livers (my unconventional favorite) cut into the shape of hearts. Our own hearts are now filled with scars, stents and pacemakers, but also 48 years of love. — Bonnie Miller Rubin



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