Sitting in beach chairs on summer sand, my mother said, “When I’m gone and pushing up daisies, on days like this, think of me.” “Don’t talk like that!” I said, not wanting to imagine her dead, in a grave, with daisies sprouting from the ground above. Twenty-one years of no longer imagining, I speak to my own children about mortality. Like I did, they resist imagining a world without their mother. Yet I hope they’ll remember my words. Recently, I’ve taken to socially distant walks in the local cemetery. There, I breathe in lilacs and remember days with my mother. — Kathy Curto

Four hours into our sibling Zoom call, alcohol and laughter led to a difficult discussion. My younger brother, Nick, revealed the pain he felt because I hadn’t opposed our extended family’s homophobic comments. Despite my efforts to show my brother solidarity through online activism, I had remained silent when our cousin questioned and judged his sexuality. Nick and I are both adopted from Russia, so we know firsthand that family is not defined by blood but by commitment and love. I was ashamed. But Nick’s message resonates: Performative allyship no more. Pride all day every day. — Anya Rehon


I jumped off my surfboard and felt my ankle snap. Crumpling into the waves, I cried out. Andrew scooped me in his arms and carried me to shore as I tried not to cry. We had just moved to America from Canada and were homesick. The hospital was so expensive; at home, it’s free. Andrew wheeled me through the halls in his wet suit, slipping, looking like Aquaman, refusing to leave my side. The nurses smiled and laughed. I lay back in the bed and knew in my bones that I would spend my life with this man. — Ivy Staker

My grandmother’s sister is small and joyful and eats with her mouth open. We email in Spanish. She tells me the coronavirus was started by the Illuminati. I ask her about Santiago, Chile, in the summer. I rarely speak with my grandmother even though we live only miles away. She’s easy to love, as most grandmothers are, but hard to like. I see the worst of myself in her: a cruelty, an impending bipolar diagnosis. How can I make peace with this? I medicate, accept my grandmother’s limits and email her sister often, expressing my love: “Cariño para ti.” (“Care for you.”) — Ren Weber



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