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by Abigail Van Buren

Man Carrying Torch Fears He Is Playing With Fire

DEAR ABBY: A woman I have known for some time recently moved back to town and we have run into each other on several occasions. We're both in our mid-20s and neither of us is involved with anyone right now.

A few years ago I began to develop feelings for her that I never had the courage to express. I don't remember when they started, but since her return I realize I still have them, and now when I am around her I can think of little else. I don't know if she thinks of me as any more than a friend.

I've been infatuated before, but I don't think what I've been feeling for these last few years is infatuation. I believe it is love. I want to tell her how I feel, but I fear damaging our friendship.

If I tell her and she does not share my feelings, I don't know how I will get past the awkwardness of seeing her in social situations in the future. Our social circle is tight, and chance meetings would be unavoidable if I want to keep my friends.

What do you think, Abby? Should I take a chance and tell her how I feel? I have everything to gain, but it looks like so much to lose. -- LOVESICK AND LOSING IT

DEAR LOVESICK: There is something that's in between ignoring your feelings and confessing all. It's called a date. Ask the young woman to have dinner with you. Take her to a restaurant where the noise level is low and you can talk. During dinner you'll have an opportunity to steer the conversation in a personal direction. Be attentive to her responses, and you'll come away with a good sense of where your relationship may or may not go. Good luck!

DEAR ABBY: After reading the letter in your column signed "Sad Widow in Illinois," I had to respond.

My father died in 1965. My mother was devastated by his unexpected death and was inconsolable. The following May was their anniversary, and I wondered what I should do. Sending Mother a card might cause more sadness, but I just couldn't ignore that very special day.

A friend told me that when her mother's first anniversary had come up after her father's death, she and her siblings did not do anything by way of remembering it. Later, her mother made the remark, "You would think it never happened." And my friend said to me, "Send your mother a card."

So I did as "Sad Widow" suggested. I bought a "thinking of you" card and wrote a letter to my mother, expressing understanding that this was not a happy anniversary, but their marriage was still something to be celebrated.

My mother was deeply appreciative. She called it her "empty anniversary," and thanked me for remembering. My mother died nine days later.

Abby, please remind your readers to remember the surviving spouse on his or her wedding anniversary. It is still a meaningful occasion. -- GRATEFUL JEANNE

DEAR JEANNE: Thank you for your compassionate insight. I wholeheartedly agree with you.

DEAR ABBY: I hope it's not too late for me to respond to your question, "What is a great lover?"

Abby, there's no such thing as "a" great lover. They only come in pairs. -- JOHN WEHRLE, CHARLESTON, W.VA.

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