Ask Amy: Fifty years later, a broken heart is healed

Dear Amy: Fifty years ago, my heart was broken — absolutely shattered, actually — when my first real love essentially ghosted me after an intense two years (including living together) that had all the hallmarks of Happily-Ever-After.

When a year later I was still broken and mourning to a degree I felt was unhealthy, I gathered my wits, sold my possessions, and left town by joining the Air Force.

And from that one choice my life changed, gradually, but all for the better.

Today, I’m retired after a complex and gratifying life that’s included world travel, several additional years of higher education, a satisfying teaching career, and last but not least, 34 years with the right person, the love of my life and truly the best, most supportive, complimentary partner I could have asked for.

My question: I know how to contact Mr. Long-ago and keep finding myself wanting to reach out one time (NOT take up extended contact) to thank him for setting all that in motion and say that I hope his life has been equally fulfilling.

Is this an imprudent idea that should be squelched, or would it be nice, acceptable closure to a 50-year-old heartbreak?

— Questioning Closure

Dear Questioning: Would contacting Mr. Long Ago wrap things up nicely for you, or might this contact open the lid to a box that contains 50 years of questions and emotions? Might it trigger some latent longing for Mr. Long Ago?

I don’t know.

I do know that the life you are describing: Complicated, expansive, and graced by a very long-lasting love with the right person — is the essence of Happy-Ever-After. Good for you!

I think it’s an important and very human impulse to try to pull the skeins of your life together, as long as you prepare yourself for the variables. Mr. Long Ago might continue to ghost you. He might question your motives and resent the encroachment. His memory of these long-ago events might be radically different from yours.

Or (as happened to me in a similar situation), a sincere apology might be offered and accepted, and you part company with a deep appreciation for your own emotional history.

I wonder what your partner thinks you should do? I suggest that you share this dilemma, solicit your partner’s reaction and counsel, and — if you decide to go ahead with it — keep your message brief, simple, and sincere.

Dear Amy: People have been asking you how long is too long to wait to send a letter of condolence.

I lost my 25-year-old daughter almost 30 years ago.

This past April I received a five-page anonymous letter from a guy who went to school with her.

From his memories he obviously had a crush on her.

I cried the entire time I was reading the letter not because it made me sad but because even after all this time she is not forgotten and someone still thinks about her.

I have kept the letter and pull it out from time to time and re-read it.

Thank you to the person who sent the letter. So if you have a letter to send, no matter how long it’s been, do it!

— Grateful Mom

Dear Mom: This is a beautiful testimony to the power of a letter to unleash memories and lift up a life.

This inspires me to suggest a great project for the new year — to write a letter telling the story of a person from your past who is gone but will never be forgotten, and send that letter to their next of kin.

Dear Amy: I read the question from the bride calling herself “Silence is Golden” in total disbelief.

This woman wanted to insist that all of her wedding guests had to wear the color yellow to the wedding. More outrageously, she also wanted to have a “silent reception.”

Who has ever heard of such a thing?!

While I appreciated your answer to her, when I say “total disbelief,” I mean it.

That question was obviously a spoof. I know it was entertaining and all, but I don’t like reading fake questions, even if the answer is a good one.

— Faked Out

Dear Faked Out: I understand the assumption that an outrageous question would be a spoof, because I make that assumption, too.

And while I have definitely been spoofed over the years, in this case I communicated with the writer several times via email, asked follow-up questions, and concluded to the best of my knowledge that — sadly — this question was genuine.

(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

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