DEAR ABBY: My beloved husband of 32 years, "Loren," passed away last year after a long illness. I took an extensive leave from work to be at his side.
Several weeks ago, after I returned from work, my doorbell rang. On my doorstep was a tall, well-mannered, 19-year-old young woman asking for a "few minutes of my time." (My children are ages 29 and 27.)
This young woman claims she is my husband's daughter, the product of an affair between him and her mother, whom he met at a local sporting event. Loren was very active in sports. He was a former physical education teacher and coach. She produced a photo of herself with Loren and her mother, taken on her fifth birthday -- and another with Loren and her mother, who was visibly pregnant.
I felt as though I'd been kicked in the stomach. She told me Loren had stayed in touch, paid child support in cash, and bought her gifts and clothing. His name, however, is not on her birth certificate. She has asked me for some "keepsakes" from Loren, and said he had promised to help her financially with college tuition.
Please tell me what to do. I haven't told anyone about this, not even my children. I'm too ashamed and shocked. -- HEARTSICK IN N.Y.
DEAR HEARTSICK: The first thing you should do is call your lawyer. For her to have hit you with this news the way she did was brutal. I wouldn't blame you if you made no further communication with her except through your lawyer, and let him (or her) be your guide.