Before you go

(Courtesy of Cathy Burrell)

To my Ukrainian Aunty Mary, who wants to scratch Putin’s eyes out

‘You taught me that I could think what I liked, speak up when I wanted to and have the courage to change my mind,” writes Cathy Burrell to her aunt

Delaney and his mother. (Courtesy of Zachary Delaney)

To my mother: ‘It’s still strange that home, for both of us, is now a different place’

Zachary Delaney considers his mom after moving across the country to build a life for himself

Palm trees on beach seen from water, San Blas Islands, Panama

To my brother-in-law: ‘I’ve loved and loathed you, but I couldn’t imagine losing you’

‘A rush of feelings overwhelmed me when I heard your plane had crashed,’ writes Charlotte Beck

(Courtesy of Charmaine Traynor-Ruitenberg/ Mark Kelly)

To my birth mother: ‘I’m not searching for who I want to be anymore—I’m discovering who I am’

‘Thank you for your love and bravery,’ Charmaine Traynor-Ruitenberg writes to the woman who gave her up for adoption

(Photograph by Carmen Cheung)

An ode to my work-from-home dining table

Pandemic life happened here: work calls by day, home-cooked meals by night, a baby’s first delightful laugh. And now it’s hard to imagine having to leave.

Julius Morry (left) with his son, Jeff, in his longtime basement workshop (Photograph by Skye Spence)

To my dad, an art restorer: ‘You have operated a one-man hospital mending shattered souls’

Julius Morry, writes his son Jeffrey, taught him that the only meaning of possessions is the one we ascribe to them

Sharma with his mother (Photograph by Brendan George Ko)

A physician to his mom: ‘The stress of life under the virus fell disproportionately onto you’

I used to take your hands for granted, Arjun V.K. Sharma writes, but they guided me through the pandemic

Wendy Donawa (Photograph by Taylor Roades)

35 years later, a student writes: ‘It’s because of you that I became a teacher’

‘You grew to represent a bright, reassuring light,’ Claudette Bouman writes of Wendy Donawa, her English teacher at Barbados Community College

Kelsey Adams (left) and her grandmother Grace Adams (Photograph by Jalani Morgan)

Dear Grandma: ‘When I think of true selflessness, I imagine you’

The compassion you’ve shown as a frontline worker during the pandemic, writes Kelsey Adams to her grandmother, is what society needs to rebuild

Lola and Arvin (Courtesy of Arvin Joaquin)

Dear Lola Conchita, ‘yours is the kind of love that’s secure and selfless’

Separated by an ocean, Arvin Joaquin found comfort in his grandmother’s letters. Now, he’s sending her one of his own.

A woman to her sister with cancer: ‘For now, I thank God you are here today’

Your public persona was ‘Madame Ambassador,’ writes Verla Chatsis to her sister. ‘To us, you are Deb, the little sister I still long to protect.’