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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: "Brian" and I fell in love at first sight as teen-agers. We married very young, but he was the most wonderful, caring, loving man I'd ever known. He treated me like a queen.

We moved far away from our hometown, and I was homesick. I didn't give married life a chance. I acted like a baby instead of the married woman I was and returned to my parents. Brian begged me to stay, but I refused to listen. I planned on going back to Brian and our life together "sometime." Besides, I was having fun being single and partying -- so when Brian flew home to talk to me, I brushed him off. Two months after that he moved in with a woman and filed for divorce. When I received the papers, I realized I'd made a mistake. I wrote Brian a letter apologizing and begging for another chance. He never wrote back. That was 20 years ago.

I have been married to "Charlie" for 15 years. We had some good times together, but about three years ago we started drifting apart. Neither of us cared enough to do anything about it -- and it's to the point where we don't even sleep in the same room anymore. It's only a matter of time until we divorce. I'd be gone already, but I need to pay off some bills before I go.

On a recent trip to my hometown, I ran into Brian while I was shopping with my mother. I was stunned at the strength of the feelings running through me. My heart stopped and I was completely in love again. I could barely speak. My mother did all the talking.

I feel like a love-struck teen-ager. Brian is on my mind 24 hours a day. We never had a "last talk"; we never said goodbye.

I recently ran into Brian again. (Yes, it was a planned "accident.") He was very nice. He's not married, but he's living with someone. I wrote him a long letter, apologizing for everything I did and thanking him for all he did for me. In it, I said if there's ever a time he'd be willing to talk to me, I'd like to. I didn't tell him I love him or want him back in my life, but the point comes across. I want him to know that if there ever could be a chance, I want it.

Should I give him the letter? Please help me. Tell me right from wrong. I have no one to talk to and nowhere to turn. -- IN LOVE WITH BRIAN

DEAR IN LOVE: You are putting the cart before the horse. You owe it to yourself, your husband and to Brian to sort out your present marital and financial situation before telling this man that you are "available." Bear in mind that even if you give the letter to Brian, there is no guarantee he will respond to it in the way you hope.

DEAR ABBY: The letter from the lady who asked her ex-daughter-in-law to hand down the family sterling to her granddaughter set me to giggling in memory of my own very wonderful mother-in-law. She had promised to crochet a bedspread for her son and me.

She was married to a man with "itchy feet," so they moved about three times a year, which left her with very little time to work on the spread, but she finally finished it!

Twenty-one years later, her son and I divorced. I stewed a long time about that bedspread. Obviously, I was no longer in the running -- so I wrote her a letter and suggested that she give it to one of my kids or one of her other grandchildren.

I was not prepared for her response: "Not to worry. I unraveled it." -- MS. MONTY MILLER, BUCKLEY, WASH.

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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