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Tiny Love Stories: ‘This Man Who Shattered My Life’

A Note From a Stranger

I sat crying in a Nashville emergency room, more than 9,000 miles from my Australian home. I was having a bad reaction to a medication. A gray-haired woman across the room looked at me with kind eyes. As the nurse escorted her to another room, she handed me a note that said, “You are not alone.” Later, she returned, and asked if I was all right. I learned she was dying of lung cancer. How unexpected and moving — that toward the end of her life, she was thinking of me, a stranger in a waiting room. — Kate Cowling

My passport and mask.

Our Long-Distance Trick

After a month of texting from opposite coasts, we mailed each other dirty T-shirts because I wanted to know what Sami smelled like. “Enjoy the pheromones,” she wrote. Her shirt smelled sweet and familiar. I slept with it by my pillow until it lost her scent. When we finally met in person, kissing for the first time on my bed, I felt like Sami had been there for weeks. Now, two years later, Sami has a drawer in my dresser. When she’s not here and I miss her, I pull out one of her T-shirts and take it to bed. — Ella Hormel

In San Francisco shortly after we met in person. Sami is on the left.

We Had to Leave the Bank

We were college students, working next to each other as bank tellers. Eileen thought I was an obnoxious loudmouth. I thought she was stuck up, never responding to my jokes. One day, I overheard her talking to another co-worker about picking up school supplies for the upcoming semester. I invited myself along. Outside of the bank, we were able to see each other in a new light. Eileen was reserved, not rude. I wasn’t always a flippant buffoon. We laughed and bonded over our Dominican heritage. Eighteen years later, we now visit the bank together, along with three beautiful girls. — Henry Suarez

A recent family photo.

Reflecting at Our Daughter’s Wedding

I saw my ex-husband recently at our daughter’s wedding. Our children watched us closely, waiting to see how our greeting would unfold. He leaned in for a hug; I hugged him back. My children told me they were worried. They mostly remembered animosity between us. I smiled inwardly. No, no. Not anymore. If anything, I am grateful to this man who shattered my life, freeing me to experience another. Had our marriage not ended, I would never have met the love of my life, and become the person I am today. — Leslie Cohen

My forever partner and me at my daughter’s wedding.

See more Tiny Love Stories at nytimes.com/modernlove. Submit yours at nytimes.com/tinylovestories.

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