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Outside the Chicago airport, the cold climbs over my coat, stiffening my spine as I hug my husband. We haven’t been separated for over a year. I get on the plane alone because Nick is not vaccinated. At immigration to Harare, I withdraw my wedding ring and tick the box “single”. Love between two men is illegal in Zimbabwe. I adapt to survive. When I emerge, the soft air relaxes my spine as I hug my mother, Bharati. We cry, mourning the solidarity that we have lost this year. I also cry for my husband, who came home alone. A reunion requiring another separation. – Khameer Kidia

During World War II, Lucy was sent out of Germany by her family. Theo was imprisoned in a concentration camp until the end of the war. In 1959, they lived one floor below us in our building in the Bronx. They had a piano but no children. My parents had three daughters but no piano. When Lucy and Theo found out that the nuns at our Catholic school were offering cheap piano lessons, they insisted that we practice in their apartment. Theo would sometimes play show tunes while we were dancing and singing. Such a joyous cacophony that we have created! I still hear our music. – Rosemary Colangelo Stewart

Marjorie, my wife of 41 years, a member of the Santa Fe Community Fire Department, had a severe stroke. On leaving the hospital, I returned home through a raging snowstorm, fearing that I would have an accident and that I would not be able to help. At home, I cried in our bed. Our cat, Bunnie, entered. When I woke up in the morning, I discovered that Bunnie had gathered six of her toys from around the house and placed them by my bed. After Marjorie died, my “feline social worker” looked after me until I was 20 years old. – Bob Mizerak

My childhood memories of Chinese New Year include the sound of my grandmother’s mahjong tiles clicking together. When my grandmother, Yuan, left our hometown in Inner Mongolia to join my parents in the big city of Shanghai, she lost touch with her mahjong friends. My parents aren’t keen on the game, so my cousin and I offered to learn and play with our grandmother. We were naturally gifted, winning round after round. Or so I thought, until I understood the game better: my grandmother had all the tiles, but she let us win. – Ke Ran Huang

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