DEAR ABBY: I lost a very dear friend. At one point, 12 years ago, "James" was the air I breathed. Things didn't work out for us to be together like we planned. James started dating my best friend at the time, and I began dating a friend of his. Eventually, I married someone else.
I have just learned that James is dead. I haven't fully recovered from the news. I am still close to his family.
My husband has always made comments like, "There's your boyfriend," or, "You still love your boyfriend." And honestly -- yes, I do. Twelve years ago, James was my everything -- my first love, my first sexual experience.
In the interest of my marriage, I stopped communicating with James, and he understood why. We moved half a continent away from my hometown. I have new friends, a new life. But I'm having the worst time accepting that James is gone. I have no one to grieve with. How do I get through this? How do I make my husband a part of my sadness? What hurts most is I never got to say goodbye. Please help me. -- SAD IN NEVADA
DEAR SAD: Please accept my sympathy for your loss. Do not try to make your husband a part of your sadness. He has suffered enough. After feeling like second-best all these years, he may be experiencing a feeling of relief.
You say that James was your first everything. It's interesting how we tend to idealize our "firsts." However, things didn't work out between you for a reason. Try to remember what that reason was.
While James had dwelled in your heart, he has never grown repetitious or boring, lost any hair, or grown thick around the middle. He has never come home late without calling, forgotten to throw dirty laundry in the hamper or argued with you over money. Perfection is a difficult act for anyone to compete with. Your husband must love you very much.
Because you weren't able to say goodbye to James, another way to gain closure would be to write him a letter. Put in it all of the things you would like to have told him if you'd had the chance -- and end it by telling him goodbye. Then send it off to heaven by burning it. That way nothing will have been left unsaid, and your message will be forever private. If that doesn't help you to heal, then please consider grief counseling.