DEAR ABBY: I recently lost my wife to a long illness. When she could no longer work, I tried to give her the best quality of life I could. It took a toll. I worked long hours to give her everything she needed. The medical bills were astronomical. All she ever wanted was me.
I was always the macho type, and "I love you" was always hard for me to say. (I'm a real tough guy.) Well, this tough guy would give anything for one more chance to say it.
She died so suddenly, it was like it wasn't real. For the first couple of weeks I threw myself into work and thought I could handle it. When the death certificate arrived in the mail, that's when I fell apart.
I feel guilty because I was gone so much. I miss her terribly. Sometimes the loneliness is so bad it feels like someone is standing on my chest.
Abby, I would like to remind all the other macho guys out there that TIME is something you only get so much of. It is precious, but unfortunately, limited. I realized, too late, that it's not enough that my wife "knew" I loved her. I should have told her more often. I know now that "I wish I would have," "I know I should have," and "If I had just one more chance" are the worst things in the world to hear yourself say when it is already too late.
PLEASE tell your spouse you love her or him. You never know if the last time you say it might be the last time you get the chance. -– TOO LATE IN TENNESSEE
DEAR TOO LATE: Please accept my deepest sympathy for the death of your wife. Your letter makes clear the depth of the loss you are feeling. Although true lovers never get enough of each other, I am sure she understood the strain you were under and that you loved her.
Readers, this gentleman's letter carries with it an important message. "I love you" is the sweetest music a person can hear. Bouquets of flowers smell the sweetest when they are in the hands of the recipient, not stacked by her (or his) casket. And praise is most appreciated when it can be heard by the person who has earned it, not when it's recited in a eulogy after he or she has passed. So speak up now, before it truly is too late.
DEAR ABBY: I am the oldest of three sisters. The youngest has always been the overachiever. She graduated from high school and college early, was the first to be married, and she's having the first baby in the family.
I have demonstrated my pride in my sister by attending all her celebrations. I have sent gifts, helped to organize not only parties, but also her wedding and baby showers.
I recently announced to my mother and middle sister that I am planning to be married, assuming we would all share the excitement we did for my sister. Not only did they show a complete lack of interest in my milestone, they immediately changed the subject to my sister's baby shower. I cannot help but feel hurt by this. Is the first milestone in a family more celebrated than the others that follow? -– COMING IN SECOND IN ATLANTA
DEAR SECOND: I don't blame you for feeling slighted. It appears your sister is the "golden child" in your family. Because your mother and sibling appear hypnotized by the glare of her spotlight, you may have to find your validation outside your immediate family -– from friends and your fiance's family. I recommend you start now.
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