Originally Published: April 25, 2017 6 a.m.
Dear Annie: My question is urgent and can’t wait. I don’t know what to do.
My best friend is suffering from a quick and aggressive form of ovarian cancer. We don’t know how much longer she has and suspect it won’t be long. For more than 25 years, I have talked to her at least four times a week and seen her at least once a week. She has been an active participant in my entire family life and is beloved by my spouse, children and extended family. We are all taking this news extremely hard. The hole in our lives is huge.
About 10 years ago, there was a rumor that she and my husband had a thing. It was small-town jealousy of the fact that the four of us had happy lives. If we had lived anywhere else, it would not have been an issue to have opposite-sex friendships. Small towns where people don’t move away focus on anything that seems interesting.
We thought it was all fine, but it now seems her husband never was OK with it. He quit coming around, and we never addressed it. We thought that the reason he declined our invitations was that he was busy working. Now we know he is still uncomfortable with us. She probably didn’t tell us because she was embarrassed.
If there were time to be mad, I would be so mad. We would have made it right if we had known he was harboring this type of resentment. We could have made sure everyone was OK. Now she is probably dying, and we aren’t there with her.
There was a time when we would have been the people he would have called for any kind of help. We moved the furniture, chopped the trees, patched the driveway, etc. We were the best friends when he needed us to be and out of sight and out of mind the rest of the time, I guess.
How do we fix this before it is too late? He is controlling of time and visitors and not receptive right now. We don’t want to go behind his back and want to make this right. This is so heartbreaking to all. The few family members who have been able to see her say she is depressed and so sad about the loss of control of her life and feels trapped and dependent.
I miss my best friend and don’t know how to make this better for everyone. What do you suggest to heal this rift I didn’t realize was this deep? Don’t want my heart to die, too. — Love My Friend
Dear Love: If ever there was a time to heal this rift, it’s now. Call her husband. Empathize with the complicated emotions he’s no doubt feeling. He may have seized onto this issue as something external on which he could project all his anger over his wife’s illness. Whatever his reasons, remind him that a grudge hurts the person holding it. And if he’s so attached to the pain that he doesn’t want to let go, that’s his own prerogative. He can stay angry. But he can’t force his wife to be part of that anger. Implore him, for her sake, to allow you to visit. If he feels uncomfortable, he can leave the house for a few hours while you’re there. Ultimately, if you want to see your best friend and she wants to see you, go see her — with or without his permission.
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