With this difficult year coming to a close, we’ve been thinking of all the ways we’ve experienced love and the ways it has sustained us. So, here are 12 reader comments on love…

On quiet gestures:

“In our blissful early weeks, my boyfriend slept over. Before dawn, the trash truck rolled up under the window, blaring and clanging. He laid his hands gently over my ears so the noise wouldn’t wake me. It did! But I pretended to be asleep and gave him my whole heart at that moment.” – S.

“As a teenager, I was most definitely NOT a morning person, so my mom used to wake me up every day with a hot chocolate. I would drink it and then drag myself out of bed. She still does this when I go visit and I’m 33 (actually now its a mocha!). Moms are the best.” – K.

On sibling bonds:

“My brother is eight years older than I am, and when he was a teenager, he didn’t really play with me. But when he went out with his friends, he would always bring me back a treat – a chocolate bar, a can of Mountain Dew, Skittles, etc. We’re proper friends now that we’re older but it’s those tiny treats that made me a treater, too!” – AI

“My sister and I are very different – she’s a gregarious New Yorker, never seen without full makeup, and a writer of novel-length erotic Hannibal fan fiction. While I’m so different from her (think if your dad’s trusty L.L. Bean vest from 1993 were a human woman), her light makes me – and everyone – brighter. Kind, sparkling, inclusive oddballs make the entire world better! – Jenny

On strangers connecting:

“I’ve been allowing myself some spare minutes to watch YouTube videos of what I like to call ‘people doing human things’ — strangers standing close together listening to a street musician, etc. It helps me focus on the good. For your enjoyment, Sweet Caroline in a Boston subway.” — Monica

“Last summer, I was sitting on a bench outside of a Target totally sobbing. My godmother had just gone into hospice and I knew that we didn’t have long. A woman got out of her parked car with a tissue and asked if I needed anything. I just shook my head as the tears poured out. She told me she was going to go back to her car and wait until I left, in case I changed my mind. I cried for another 15 minutes and she stayed right there until I left and then drove away.” — Deanne

“Last year we were visiting D.C., when a stranger came up to my six-year-old son, put his hands on his shoulders and said, ‘I just want you to know that I think you look really cool and I like the way you look!’ Mama bear immediately roared to attention, when my husband whispered in my ear that my son had been in the bathroom saying ‘Dad, I really don’t like the way I look. Why do I look so weird?’ Stranger swept in to boost some spirits and it was such a sweet moment.” — C.

“When I was going through a divorce, I had a weekly therapy appointment on Monday afternoons. Afterward I couldn’t go home, because my soon-to-be ex-husband would be there with our kids. So, I started going to a local ramen restaurant. One day, the sweet woman at the counter said, ‘We always see you on Mondays. What’s the rest of your Monday routine?’ I answered honestly that I was coming from therapy and appreciated how comforting the soup was. Every Monday after that, the employees would bring me an extra treat with my ramen – a cup of green tea, a steamed bun, a perfectly ripe sliced tomato, something special. They never mentioned why and we never talked about my Monday routine again, but it always made me feel loved, tingly and warm in a very cold, hard time.” — Heather

On loving your body:

“My four-year-old is always smooshing into my body and saying things like ‘I like how soft you are, Mama’ and ‘your boobs are like pillows’ and ‘you jiggle when we dance’ (meant as a compliment)! My instinct is to recoil from the statements but I try to remember that my body holds 57 pounds of kids in its arms every day and it works with cancer patients and it writes letters to friends. It’s easier to love my body when I think about the safety and love and fun my daughters feel when they are wrapped in it.” — Savannah

On love at the end:

“Ashley’s last paragraph — about how ‘real love makes room for you to love yourself the way you are and the way you want to be’ — is so beautiful and true. I experienced that when my mother was dying. I could see her in all her vulnerability and it was okay for her and for me. It made me understand that at the end, there is only love.” — Agnès

On just the right words:

“My five-year-old son has autism. It’s been a big struggle to get him to understand the back and forth of conversations. I was tucking him into bed one night, and I said ‘I love you, buddy,’ like I do every night. He turned to me, brought his hand delicately up to his chest, looked me in the eye, and said, ‘THANK you!’ in this genuinely shocked and delighted tone of voice. It was the best and truest response I could’ve hoped for. That’s still how he answers and it’s fantastic.” – Olivia

“While dancing at a wedding together to a fun, fast song, I whispered ‘Does my breath smell’ to my husband and he answered enthusiastically, ‘Yes!’ I was mortified and asked him ‘What!?’ He confusedly replied, ‘Didn’t you ask if we are best friends?’ We still laugh about that conversation and the memory is just the sweetest. He’s definitely my best, best friend.” – Jackie

What about you? What expressions of love have you experienced lately?

P.S. More great reader comments, including reader comments on kindness.

(Photo by David Gonzalez, 1979.)