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DEAR ABBY: This is the 37th anniversary of when I met and fell in love with a beautiful young woman in Iowa. We were together less than a year before she decided to pursue her dreams in California. When she left, it broke my heart for years. To this day I still feel the loss.

In the years that followed, our paths crossed a few more times. Because I was recently married then, I told my old friend and lover I needed to close the book on our relationship. Saying it ripped my heart out because I knew it would cause me to lose her forever, but we both respected it. After a divorce many years later, I started looking for her, to no avail.

An urgency has overcome me now because I have been diagnosed with cancer and I'm not sure what my future holds. I don't want to rekindle something I can't finish, but I would like to say goodbye one last time before I'm laid to my eternal rest. Should I continue searching for her or should I stop, hoping she hears my prayers after all these years and knowing I tried to do the right thing by her when I smiled and waved as she drove away so long ago? -- UNSURE OF MY FUTURE

DEAR UNSURE: Please accept my sympathy for your diagnosis. I'm sure most women would be touched to hear they were the love of someone's life, even if that love was unrequited.

Remember, that decision was made many years ago. What if you find her and she's married with children? Would it make you feel better or worse? These days, many cancers are treatable/curable. If you should find her and you are not terminal, will it give you closure or more heartache? Only you can answer that.


DEAR ABBY: My ex-wife and I have a 5-year-old son, "Ricky." Each year it's becoming more of a disagreement how to handle details for his birthday party. She believes that, in addition to inviting his closest friends, we need to invite every child in his school's class.

Ricky is in kindergarten and there are 18 children in his class. She says we can't risk hurting any potential uninvited classmates (and thereby their parents). My thinking is it's our son's special day and he should have only the people there he wants most.

There's also the party's expense. I don't believe we need to foot the bill for extra kids and supplies. Personally, I also don't want our son to be spoiled by receiving so many additional birthday presents.

Where do you sit on this issue? And if you agree with my wife, how old will our son be when this is no longer in effect? -- KEEPING THE PEACE IN FLORIDA

DEAR KEEPING THE PEACE: I do not agree with your wife. If your son would be inviting all but a few of his classmates, then I can see that there might be hurt feelings. But if the number of guests is limited to say, six, I don't think that would be the case. Fear of offending the parents of the uninvited two-thirds of his class should not enter into the decision. This would also ensure that your son is not snowed under by an avalanche of gifts.

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