DEAR ABBY: When I married "John," his wife -- I'll call her Donna -- had been dead for seven years. She died at a young age from cancer. Before our marriage, I knew that he had several family pictures hanging on the walls. After our marriage, when I moved into his home, they remained.
I must admit, at first I felt a tiny bit of resentment that she was still "hanging around." However, after carefully thinking it through, I concluded that it was better that the pictures remain where they were. I realized that his grown children would appreciate the fact that I wasn't getting rid of everything of their mother's. I also realized that I would probably feel the same had my mother passed away and my father remarried.
I know John loves me, and we have a wonderful marriage. I also know that I'll never replace Donna. He loved her for many years, and I will always be second-best. John will be buried next to Donna when he dies. His children display many family pictures in their homes, as do his parents. Sometimes I feel a little sad, because when John sees these pictures everywhere, they bring back memories of him and Donna.
I would love it if John's parents would display our wedding picture on their wall, but they don't. Our pictures are in the photograph album, while pictures of John and Donna are on display. My in-laws loved Donna, as did everyone who knew her, but they also love me and we get along great. They are elderly now, and I wouldn't feel right asking them to remove Donna's pictures from their walls.
Although John and I haven't had years and years together and we're beyond having children of our own, I know I have a special place in his heart.
Donna is gone, but her memory is here to stay, as are her pictures. Sometimes when I look at her picture, I feel that she's smiling at me and saying, "Thanks for taking care of John -- he needed you!" Sign me ... SECOND LOVE, PLEASANT PLAIN, OHIO
DEAR SECOND LOVE: You have written a loving, compassionate letter, filled with beautiful sentiments. It's a celebration of the fact that life goes on.
Please try to banish the thought that you are "second-best." Although John had a long and happy marriage with Donna, Donna is gone and now he loves you. In this stage of his life, you are not second-best; you are first.