DEAR HARRIETTE: I had a girlfriend for four years during college; we broke up about two years ago, and it ended badly. We are no longer on speaking terms. That being said, I will always care for her, and I like to hear that she is doing well.
Last week, one of our mutual friends informed me that my ex is sick. There is something wrong with her lungs, and she has been having trouble breathing on her own for the past month or so. When I first heard this, my heart hurt and my immediate reaction was to call her. I got no response, and then I wondered if it is my place to reach out. Under these circumstances, what is the right thing to do? -- Caring Ex-Boyfriend, Cincinnati
DEAR CARING EX-BOYFRIEND: I am sorry to hear about your ex-girlfriend’s health challenge. It was kind of you to reach out to her during this time of need. It is also important that you not have any expectations about how she might respond. Given that she is ill, she may not be able to reach back to you even if she wants to. It could also be true that she does not want to reopen that door in her life.
Send her a get-well card and keep her in your prayers. You should not continue to contact her, though. Give her space. If you feel comfortable staying in touch with the mutual friend you saw, check in periodically to see how your ex is doing and if you could be of help. Don’t be pushy, though.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been invited to a wedding this summer in Rhode Island as my fiance’s plus-one. The wedding is an orthodox Jewish wedding, and this will be the first religious wedding I have attended. I am unfamiliar with Jewish wedding traditions, and I'm struggling with what to wear. I have done some research online about appropriate attire, but I am a little confused because some sites say I need to cover my shoulders and knees, but others say they just need to be covered for the service, and I can be showier at the reception. I don’t want to offend anyone with my dress. What type of outfit do you recommend I wear to this orthodox Jewish summer wedding? -- Orthodox Wedding Attire, Denver
DEAR ORTHODOX WEDDING ATTIRE: For traditional weddings in general, you should have your shoulders and knees covered. Indeed, many women wear sheer hosiery so that their legs are not bare. In terms of attire for the reception, it’s best if you wear the same outfit. Your goal should be to dress modestly. If you wear a dress that is sleeveless, keep your shrug or shawl on until you get a cue from other women at the reception that you are free to remove it. Sometimes women can bare their shoulders while dancing. Don’t be the first to try that out, though. Observe others and follow their lead. You may feel more comfortable staying modest throughout the event.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)