You might be thinking—Loss? Are you kidding?

And for that you are owed an explanation. 

As well as some hope.

Yes, loss is too much with us—always, of course but especially now.

And yet, in this, our sixth issue, are four very different stories connected by a single theme: Loss. But why? Why not something uplifting, distracting, fun even?

Because like all our stories, these four emerge not from the interests of editors but from the needs of writers,  each of whom had a story she or he needed to tell. And each of whom locates something beyond loss.

These are stories that, like love, possess qualities  that cannot be defined but can certainly be felt.

Brett Bachman came to us with a mystery that he needed to solve—the story of a college classmate, an immigrant from the smallest nation in Africa, The Gambia, who was going to make good on his father’s American Dream. He did for a while, in high style, until his dream and the life he had built upon it, vanished after federal investigators came calling. What went wrong for Amadou Camara? And has he landed on his feet?

Claire Porter had a more personal story she needed to tell, among the most personal stories of all: the loss of a child before he could be born. That loss set Claire off on a journey to unravel a mystery. Actually, two. Of a death, and then of the life that would follow. 

Isabela Dias had heard the story of Steven Tendo and needed to find out what happened when Tendo, a Ugandan pastor, came before an immigration judge in Texas and asked to be granted asylum. Tendo told the judge that he faced imprisonment, torture, and perhaps death if were sent home. Would the judge believe his harrowing story?

And Frank Light had a story he’d needed to tell since 2004, the story of his return to  Afghanistan and the journey he made for an American government that still believed it could build a new nation on the ruins of the old. But could good intentions be enough? 

We hope you find these stories are as moving, compelling, and engaging as we do. And we hope, too, that through these stories you find some comfort at a time when loss feels such an inescapable part of our lives.

What begins with a writer’s need so often can become a balm for a reader. 

Because at the heart of each of these journeys is a search for hope. Some found it in most expected ways.