DEAR ABBY: When I was in the eighth grade I didn't "like boys." Building forts was much more interesting. But when my first love walked into our classroom, I knew I loved him the second I saw him.
We liked each other all during high school, although my parents told me I was too young to like boys. When he gave me gifts, I had to give them back. When he offered me his class ring I wasn't allowed to take it. It silently broke my heart. In all those years, I didn't ever tell him I loved him -- or how much.
He was the valedictorian of our class, and after high school he went on to Stanford University. I went to nurse's training. His life prospered; mine disintegrated.
At age 30, I married a man to please my father. That marriage ended in divorce eight years and two children later. After being a single parent for seven years, I longed for a husband and family. I married a man who had my first love's name. This marriage ended a year later after a lot of trauma to me and my children.
Two years ago, I realized that my true love was "missing in action" in my heart and that I hadn't been able to go on with my life. I located him through the Stanford Alumni register and after 30 years, talked with him -- for 42 minutes. He's happily married with four children.
After that phone call, I grieved for two days and then reconciled my love for him in my heart.
Abby, no other true love has come into my life. Perhaps one never will. Please encourage parents to take their children seriously. The heart is never too young to love deeply and eternally.
Thank you. I cannot sign this letter since I don't wish to expose my parents to the heartache they caused me so young in life, and the profound impact that forcing me to deny my love has had on me throughout the years. -- FINALLY RECONCILED, RICHLAND, WASH.
DEAR RECONCILED: Yours is a dramatic story. It's gratifying to know that you have finally found peace and resolved your first love.
When parents tell children that they are "too young" to be seriously in love, what they usually mean is that the children are too young to shoulder the responsibilities that accompany their turbulent emotions. I hope that the next time you find love, it brings you every happiness.