Dear Annie: Passage of time doesn’t make pain disappear
Dear Annie: I’m heartbroken over an event that took place 52 years ago.
I dated a girl in high school for several years and was truly in love. After I graduated from high school in 1967, I asked her to marry me. She took my hand and said that she couldn’t because she was pregnant from her former boyfriend. I was shocked, hurt and destroyed from within. Naturally, we broke up, and we both moved on with our lives.
It bothered me more because of the fact that he was an addict and I believe he got her hooked on drugs, and she died at the age of 49.
I worked at the local hospital for many years. One day, upon my return from vacation, I was told that a woman in the ICU had been asking for me. Now, this was 32 years after our breakup. She remembered me and followed my career in medicine to know I worked there. She died a few days before I returned from vacation.
I found her grave today. It was a sad day. Why does this bother me so much? The cemetery had her obituary. In it, I found enough information about her life after me, including information on her two daughters. Should I contact them and get filled in on her life? — Heartbroken
Dear Heartbroken: I am so sorry for your loss. It’s understandable that you are still upset about her death. While time is known to heal wounds, it does not mean we forget about people who were important to us growing up. Just because you both went on to love other people does not mean you didn’t stop caring about each other as friends. The fact that she looked you up all those years later and knew where you worked shows that.
I can imagine being a drug addict and being married to one is a very lonely life. She probably remembered you from before her life was filled with addiction and wanted to say goodbye. Although it is so sad you weren’t able to, you could connect to her through her daughters.
There is nothing wrong with reaching out to them, sharing memories of how great their mother was and learning about her life. The main point to stress is this is not about romantic love but rather how you care deeply about her as a friend. The man she married is probably their father, so I would not tell them your opinion of him.
Dear Annie: I was raised by a very strict mother. I am now a middle-aged man.
Several years ago, out of the blue, my mother asked me if she had been too strict when I was young. I told her I thought she was. Do you think this was her way of apologizing or something else? — Strict Mother’s Son
Dear Strict Mother’s Son: It very well could be an apology. If that is something you are looking for, why not ask her? You are very sparse with your words in discussing this issue. It would be helpful to be aware of this and to try to relax before talking to her. Also make a list of all the things she did right and that you love about her. The more you tell her these things, the more it will facilitate the conversation.
Editor’s note: “Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.