DEAR ABBY: I have been married for 18 years. Two years ago, I met "Rita." She was "the girl of my dreams," and we moved in together. Our relationship was "unstoppable." My wife and I began divorce proceedings.
Three weeks ago, my doctor told me there was a good chance I had cancer. I needed more tests. I panicked and ran back to my wife and children. I wanted them to hear it from me. I told them I "might" get very sick from the disease and the treatment. I ended up going on a one-week vacation with my family. Rita said she understood I needed to be with them.
On the first day of vacation, I realized how much I missed Rita and decided to call her. There was no answer. When I called her the next day at her job, she said, "I have moved on," and hung up. I was shocked because she had always told me we were "soul mates and our love would never die." Now she won't give me the time of day and has threatened to notify the police if I keep calling.
Abby, the irony is -- I don't have cancer. It's four small cysts. At my suggestion, my wife agreed to e-mail Rita to tell her that I am not sick after all, and that she and I are not sleeping together. So far there has been no response from Rita.
Now I don't know what to do. I think Rita broke up with me not knowing all the facts. What do you think? -- HEALTHY AND UNHAPPY IN ONTARIO, CANADA
DEAR HEALTHY AND UNHAPPY: The "girl of your dreams" turned out to be a nightmare, and you have failed to recognize a blessing in disguise. Rita wasn't planning to be with you for the long haul. Instead of "for better or for worse, in sickness and in health," she planned on only "for better and in health." Thank heavens you found out before you invested anymore precious time in her.
DEAR ABBY: We are fast approaching the first anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001. For those who experienced the death of a loved one, the anniversary of that unforgettable day will rekindle feelings of profound loss and pain.
AARP has a 28-year history of bereavement support, and since Sept. 11 has developed new grief and loss programs and resources that are available to anyone, not just AARP members.
AARP's Web site, www.griefandloss.org, offers extensive information, resources and support, including chat rooms and discussion boards, consumer tips, online journaling and information on support groups and their locations. AARP also provides a wide range of publications in English and Spanish designed to reach all bereaved adults.
Abby, we are also offering your readers a free brochure titled, "Understanding the Grief Process." This brochure provides an overview of grief and loss, its unique impact, and resources to assist individuals and their families in the grief process. Readers can order their free copy (Order No. D16832) by calling our toll-free number: (800) 424-3410.
Together, we can help bereaved adults begin rebuilding their lives. -- SUSAN KOVAC ECKRICH, DIRECTOR, AARP GRIEF AND LOSS PROGRAMS
DEAR SUSAN: Thank you for your timely letter. Although your programs are intended for friends and families of people who died as a result of last year's terrorist attacks, I am sure they will also be helpful to many others who are struggling with the emotions that accompany the loss of a loved one.
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 $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby -- Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)
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