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DEAR ABBY: This is in response to "John in Santa Monica," who agreed to host his 17-year-old cousin for a week. I am not very close with one of my sisters. However, one day last year, her 14-year-old daughter, Lee, called to ask if she could spend the spring break with me.

I had separated from my husband recently and was on an extremely modest budget. I didn't have a lot of money to spend, but we didn't need it. The week that Lee spent with me turned out to be one of the best weeks of my life. Lee had so much fun that she returned for a week last summer.

In late October, Lee was killed in a house fire. I can't express how fortunate I feel to have spent those two weeks with her.

Please let John know that he should embrace the opportunity he has been given; he may never have it again. -- DAWN IN BLACKSHEAR, GA.

DEAR DAWN: Please accept my sympathy for the loss of your niece. You have written a powerful letter, and I'm sure that other readers besides John will appreciate the message you've conveyed so well.

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