DEAR ABBY: My recent eighth-grade graduation should have been a happy night for me, but I spent most of it in the bathroom with my best friend, "Sandy." She was crying her eyes out because her father was there. She hadn't seen him for more than two years. Sandy's mother had an affair with him 14 years ago, and he decided to stay with his wife, leaving Sandy and her mother alone. Her father pays child support, but his absence has left an emotional gap you could drive a truck through.
Sandy's mother is a wonderful person, but you can't talk to her about important things. And Sandy isn't open about her feelings to many people. They build up inside her and she just explodes. Seeing her father on graduation night was the straw that broke the camel's back. He seemed uncomfortable. He barely spoke to Sandy and didn't give her a hug or anything. I try to console my friend the best I can, but I'm not sure what to say. Abby, if she starts to feel bad again, what can I say to help her heal her pain? -- CONCERNED FRIEND IN WISCONSIN
DEAR CONCERNED FRIEND: Continue to be the caring and supportive friend you have been. However, rather than trying to heal her hurt, tell your mother what you have observed and ask her to speak to Sandy's mother. Sandy will need counseling and a safe place to express her feelings of hurt and abandonment. If she sees someone now, it could save her years of unhappiness and therapy later. Her feelings are valid and must be addressed.