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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I was married to my soul mate for more than 31 years. He passed away three years ago. I stayed by his side 24 hours a day for 21 months while he fought for his life against a malignant brain tumor. We had a great marriage, and I'm thankful I was able to be there for him. I'll never get over missing or loving him.

I'm 54 and healthy, and decided not to wear black and mourn for the rest of my life. Three months ago, I married a man with whom I had become good friends at church during the last year and a half. We actually dated for only a month, but we knew each other well enough to know that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together.

The problem is my two adult children. They have become greedy and demanding. They're afraid I'm going to leave all of "Dad's" retirement to my new husband. They refer to my house as "Dad's" house. I have explained to them that it is mine. I gave them what he specified in his will, and then some. My daughter even demanded to see my will -- which I told her she could see after I die.

My daughter has asked me not to call her house anymore. Was it wrong of me to go on with my life? -– NO NAME OR TOWN, PLEASE

DEAR NO NAME: Not at all. While your daughter may justify her behavior as trying to "protect" her mother, in reality the name for what she's doing is emotional blackmail. Keep your distance and concentrate on being the happy newlywed you deserve to be. How sad for your children that because of their attitude they have driven a wedge between themselves and the only parent they have left.

DEAR ABBY: I just read a column of yours containing a letter from a girl who had been raped. She was upset about not being a virgin at her wedding.

I was sexually abused as a child, and this is what I was told in my counseling group: "If I hit you on the head with a rolling pin, would you consider that your first experience with cooking?" Abby, that girl is still a virgin. She has not had sex or made love; she was attacked, and the weapon was a penis. Technical terms do not apply to this situation.

Knowing that you are still a virgin can be very important in the healing process. I am mostly recovered; however, some wounds never fully heal. -– "J" IN WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y.

DEAR "J": Never say "never." I hope you continue to progress. Your counselor is a wise person. It's troubling that when people hear about a sexual assault, one of the first reactions is to ask what the victim might have done to have brought it on. The truth is, a victim of rape and the victim of a mugger or robber have two things in common. They were both in the wrong place at the wrong time –- and vulnerable.

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600