Tiny Love Stories: ‘Were They Just Using Me?’


My girlfriends made a habit of crushing on my big brother John. Exactly why, I had no clue. He was bespectacled, skinny, an honor roll guy — no jacked heartthrob. Karen T., Betsy B., had they ever really been my friends, or were they just using me to get within flirting range of my brother? John didn’t mind the attention, but feeling like a steppingstone shook my 15-year-old confidence. Would anyone ever like me for me? My brother’s best friend Sam had the answer. Forty-seven years, six children, two grandchildren later, I’m inclined to believe him. — Laura Hurwitz

Summer 2017, we meet at my grandmother’s house in Goa, brown limbs exposed and mango juice dripping down our elbows. I have never seen anyone more beautiful. I tell her, “I will stay with you here forever.” “I know,” she replies, unaware of how strongly I feel. Six years later, I go to her wedding with a bouquet of cheap flowers and a greeting card. “Congratulations,” I say, but we know I actually mean “goodbye.” She gives me her mango stained smile. “Thank you for coming!” she says. “Are you thinking of getting married?” “Yes,” I say. “Yes,” I lie. — Maya Ribeiro

“Why aren’t there more pictures with Mom in them?” I asked my sister as we prepared a slide show for our mother’s funeral. We found plenty of photos of ourselves, including yearly poses under the silver Christmas tree and in the front yard with our yellow Easter dresses and white shoes. We studied our smiling faces at the Jersey Shore with our grandparents and at campsites with Dad. But where was Mom? And whose finger was that sometimes covering the camera lens? Ah! It was Mom. Of course. Mom was always behind the camera, dutifully capturing our memories. Thank you, Mom. — Lori Tripp Peckham

Frank was older than me: 75 to my 54. How to name our relationship, once we coupled? My friend? Too casual. My boyfriend? Ridiculous for someone pushing 80. My partner? Too businesslike in my mind. Frank called me his roommate, or “roomie.” Years passed. His health diminished, requiring frequent medical appointments. Citing privacy, nurses asked me: Was I family? A caregiver? Anticipating his decline, our bond deepened. We needed different names: husband and wife. Now I’m his widow, a name I wear with sadness but gratitude for our life together. Love has many names. Frank had become my everything. — Laurel Hunt


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