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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I have a terrible problem on my hands and desperately need your advice.

Several years ago, after enduring a nightmare marriage for 27 years, I left my husband "Joe," with the loving support of a dear friend I'll call "Sally." I found a kindred spirit in this funny, gentle, intelligent woman -- and without her I don't know how I could have survived that terrible time in my life. We were virtually inseparable. I had my own room in her home, and she had her own room in mine. We took trips together, spent weekends and holidays together, took care of each other and each other's kids. We did everything together, and I must admit I've never been happier. We were always there for each other.

But after three years of trying to make it without a husband, I caved in and remarried Joe. He promised to change, and he's been quite tolerable. The problem I'm faced with is that I no longer have a place in my life for Sally. I just don't have any time for her. She does not fit in with my "married crowd." She's a single mom, and even though I love her dearly, she's quite eccentric and my husband does not approve of her.

I know how to break up with a man. My question is, how do I "break up" with a girlfriend without hurting her? I really thought that she would understand, but she apparently doesn't. She is terribly upset with how things have turned out, but there's nothing I can do about it. -- CAUGHT BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE

DEAR CAUGHT: Your letter gives credence to the adage, "No good deed goes unpunished." There's no way to break up with Sally without hurting her.

It's not surprising that your husband disapproves of Sally. She was your lifeline during the separation, and she symbolizes your independence. Where was your "married crowd" when you needed support after your "nightmare marriage" and no longer fit in with them?

If you really wanted to, you could maintain the friendship despite the altered circumstances. However, since you don't -- show her this column and, I assure you, she will understand.

DEAR ABBY: Just a few words to let you know what happened after you printed my letter about the donation of frequent-flier miles to the Make-A-Wish Foundation:

The overwhelming number of phone calls the Make-A-Wish Foundation received at their national office prompted them to set up a special phone line to facilitate the high volume of inquiries they received after the column ran. Northwest Airlines WorldPerks members donated more than 800,000 miles in the two days following the date my letter appeared. And in addition, the foundation's Delta Airlines account was credited with more than 5 million miles during the month of July!

So, Abby, I'm pleased to report that hundreds of children will benefit. Bless you and your many readers who made this possible. -- SID FISHER, PALM SPRINGS, CALIF.

DEAR SID: That's terrific news, and I know my readers will be as pleased as I to read it. To all my readers who donated airline mileage so generously, thank you on behalf of the children who will benefit for making this possible.

DEAR READERS: Have a happy, healthy and prosperous 1999. And remember, if you're driving, don't drink; and if you're drinking, don't drive.

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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