DEAR ABBY: Six years ago, my husband and I went to the Netherlands to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary. We had planned and saved for the trip for many years. Another married couple, our best friends, were going with us. My mother had had several operations for cancer, but her doctor said she could live another six months to a year.
You can probably guess what happened. We went off on this trip, and the second week of our holiday I got a call from my brother telling me that Mom was in the hospital, but he didn't think I should cut my trip short and come home. I did not go home, but my mother took a sudden turn for the worse and died the next day. We had taken a weekend side trip and missed the telephone message giving us the news, so I missed my mother's funeral.
A day has not gone by that I haven't wept bitter tears and asked God to forgive me. My mother had sacrificed so much for me, and I wasn't even there to pay my last respects.
Just writing this has helped, but I still feel guilty. Maybe this will help others. Have you any words of comfort for me? -- SORRY AND SAD
DEAR SORRY: This "serenity prayer" has helped many who have tormented themselves with recrimination about something they have or have not done. It's the prayer for Alcoholics Anonymous. I hope you will commit it to memory, and use it often:
God grant me the serenity to accept
the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.