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by Abigail Van Buren

Diner Resents Getting the Rush When Server Buses the Table

DEAR ABBY: My fiance died three years ago of cancer. He was only 27. His diagnosis was a shock, and he was gone from complications of treatment barely a month later.

Prior to this, while planning our life together, I became close with his family. After his death, I don't know what I'd have done if they hadn't been there for me. Although many people sympathized, my almost-in-laws came closest to understanding my devastation and pain. Simply put, we helped each other through it.

We remain close to this day. I spend time with his mom and sisters, am invited to birthday dinners and holidays, and we get together on his birthday and the anniversary of his passing.

Is this OK? Is it normal? When people hear that we're still so close, I have had reactions from, "That's wonderful!" to "You're holding onto the past." Although there are still some tears, there is now more laughter when we share memories. And I have begun dating again.

I don't feel that by preserving our relationship we are stuck in the past. Do you? -- DOUBTING IN WALNUT CREEK, CALIF.

DEAR DOUBTING: There are degrees of involvement. You came very close to being an official member of that family, but fate thought otherwise. Whether your ties remain as tight when you fall in love again remains to be seen. But for now you are all meeting each other's needs -- and as long as it doesn't hold you back, it's all right with me.