Did this happen to you You go about your day and take care of your business. Then suddenly you discover a caring interaction that lifts your spirits, like a couple hugging or a stranger lapping someone else's hand.
Today the world could use a pick-me-up. Before Valentine's Day, we asked readers to let us know if they unexpectedly experienced an act of love or kindness. More than 100 readers wrote love stories from years ago or just recently. Here are a few selected ones that have been edited and compressed for the sake of clarity.
I went for walks in my local park more often. My heart was moved by two friends who meet every morning. You're male and probably in your 80s. You arrive separately, each with coffee and a dunkin donut bag. They sit on adjacent benches, six feet apart. One only starts his coffee when the other is there. You're not particularly chatty with others in the park – I've tried. Your focus is on each other.
– Grace E. Curley, Boston
My 90 pound Bernese Mountain dog, Lilly, has a neurological problem that is causing her to fall. This causes their great distress. My golden retriever Katie came over to Lilly after her fall this morning and licked her lips. Then she took a nap and snuggled up against her canine sister.
– Penny Nemzer, Greenwich, Conn.
After months at home, my 2 year old son wasn't excited about being with strangers. That changed when he started daycare. One of the first friends he made was Dennis, a construction worker who works near his school. Dennis often high-five and a punch before my son lists all of the new words he's learned. He looks forward to this interaction every day and Dennis never disappoints: He is always there with a big, welcoming smile.
– Smita Jayaram, Jersey City, N.J.
When the morning bell rings, one of my 3rd grade students walks into the school lobby and holds his younger brother's hand. My student would carefully help his brother take off his mittens and open his jacket. Then he kissed the top of his head tenderly before they parted for their own classrooms. Such a loving and responsible gesture.
– Sheila Bean, Calgary, Alberta
When I was riding the bus years ago, I noticed a young man suddenly stiffen and slide sideways from his seat, having a seizure. The passengers fell silent. We were worried, nervous. The driver sparkled for help and stopped. Then a woman sat on the floor next to the young man. She hummed softly and caressed his hands. We all got off the bus, but the woman and the boy stayed together. Their humming turned to a low song as they waited for his convulsions to stop.
– Tracy Huddleson, Garden Valley, California.
I have a balance problem after surgery on a brain aneurysm affected my ability to do certain things, such as bending and looking sideways. One day while walking around town with a stick, I found that my shoelace was open. I just kept walking. Suddenly a young woman stopped. “Hey,” she said, “your shoelace is open. Here, let me do it in case you trip. “She tied the shoelace, smiled and walked on.
– Carol Lange, Oxford, England
I was 6 years old and spent the night with my grandparents. While I was sitting on the porch, a couple passed by. The man reached down and plucked my grandmother's tulip from the garden and gave it to his lover. I was outraged and ran into the house yelling that someone had "stolen" one of my grandmother's flowers. She calmed me down, held my hand and said, "This is what flowers are for."
– Clare Poth, buffalo
I went to the post office. An elderly, masked couple walked slowly across the street. During the pandemic, people are walking fast, avoiding contact and trying to get things done quickly. The couple stopped for a moment. They kissed through their masks and walked on. It gave me some hope that love and human connection will prevail in these times too.
– Susi Reichenbach, Brussels
We were on the beach at Martha's Vineyard. The sun was bright coral and hung over the horizon. Just as we were about to start, there was a commotion a few meters in front of us. A young man had just proposed to his partner, and everyone around her just turned to see how they were taking the first step into their new life.
– Harriet Bernstein, West Tisbury, Fair.
When I was little, my parents and I often flew to Seattle to visit friends. Once at the airport I saw what I suspected as a husband and wife, hugged, kissed and tearfully said goodbye. That surprised me. My parents had just divorced and had never been overly loving. I think about this couple a lot.
– Margaret Anne Doran, Charlottesville, VA.
I was standing in a crowded subway and faced a woman who was sitting. I've had a terrible week. I was exhausted and overwhelmed by emotions. I suddenly started crying. It almost never occurred to me that anyone could see me. But the seated woman did so and gave me a handkerchief without saying anything other than giving me a comforting and knowing look.
– Nicole Shaub, Boerum Hill, Brooklyn
My mom traveled to work a lot when I was in high school. She could be gone for weeks. During one of their trips, I went to my parents' room. My father smelled one of her scarves. Blushing, he put it down and said, "I just missed your mother."
– Sarah Hughes, Rockville, Md.
As I drove, something in front of me stopped everyone. There was restlessness and frustrated honking. But as the cars pulled into the next lane in front of me, I saw a woman in a car stop repeatedly, get out, grab a lunch with brown bags, and distribute it to the many homeless people on the roadside. She offered them entertainment, care, and warmth, and didn't seem to care about the stunned drivers behind her.
– Sam Alviani, Denver
A few years ago I was driving in the East Village when a biker was stopped by a car. The biker was injured and bleeding and the car drove away. In a matter of seconds, dozens of New Yorkers jumped into action. Several people ran down the street to take down the license plate number. A ring of people surrounded the biker to provide first aid and ripped off sweatshirts to stop the bleeding. In less than two minutes, ambulances and police cars had arrived at the scene. There wasn't a second of chaos. It was a wonderful ballet of competence and self-confidence. New Yorkers take care of each other.
– Elizabeth Brus, Cobble Hill, Brooklyn
We're back to school and rehearsing. My students scrupulously follow the guidelines and sing outside in masks, 10 feet apart. It's January in New England, 34 degrees and overcast with an icy breeze.
Two senior high school students, now young men, members of the choir I lead, inseparable for ages and never silent in rehearsal until Zoom muted them, chatting and laughing and unconsciously dancing between the lines of "Bridge Over Troubled Water." .
They look like there is nowhere in the world that they would rather be.
– Scott Halligan, Longmeadow, Mass.
When I went to the drugstore, a high school boy came out with a bouquet of yellow daffodils. Someone shouted from across the street, "Want to be lucky?" He replied: "No, I think I'm in love!" This probably happened 40 years ago, and I am still thinking about it.
– Sallie Wolf, Oak Park, Ill.