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Dear Abby: In response to "Illinois Reader," whose husband has an incurable illness and wants people to refrain from asking about him when she's out in public, as she'd like a break from her heavy responsibilities:

My daughter was also diagnosed with a rare, incurable disease, and it's hard for me to understand "Illinois Reader" not wanting her friends to ask about her husband.At the time of my daughter's diagnosis, she was expected to live only a few weeks. Well, that was nearly a year ago, and she is doing much, much better. However, many of our so-called "friends" did not visit and have also stopped asking about her. Although my daughter hasn't stopped living, caring or loving, it seems that our friends have!

Right now, we need all the love, support and prayers we can get. So I say: "Please ask me how my daughter is doing. It lets me know that you care and still think about us. It is not an invasion of privacy, nor is it an intrusion into our lives."

I'm sorry that "Illinois Reader" feels so burdened that she needs a break from it all. However, it is even more unfortunate that many people will not ask other caregivers about their loved ones. You may print my name.

- Jacqui Taptto, Lawton, Okla.

Dear Jacqui: It's possible your friends do not mean to be selfish or inconsiderate. Many people don't know what to say when someone they know is experiencing a crisis. They feel awkward and react by avoiding the subject. As illustrated by you and "Illinois Reader," each caregiver has different needs, and no one is a mind reader. It is up to you (and all caregivers) to offer guidance by expressing your needs to friends and relatives. Your honesty will be appreciated, and you will appreciate the results.

Dear Abby: I am a professional counselor, and I counsel many teenage girls. Often they tell me things like, "I went out with this guy and I got pregnant" - as if "going out" somehow caused the pregnancy.

I've come to realize over the years that many girls have never been told how to diplomatically say "no" to sex. It appears they frequently say "yes" just so they won't seem rude.

You would be doing your readers a great service if you asked young girls to write and answer the question, "How did you `just say no'?"

- Concerned Counselor,

Pasadena, Calif.

Dear Concerned Counselor: You have made an excellent suggestion. While teenaged girls may have the most difficulty with this issue, they are not alone. People of all ages (and both sexes) also struggle with it. Readers, what works for you? How do you "just say no" to a sexual encounter you do not wish to have, or do not feel ready for?

Dear Abby: This is in response to the letter from "New Jersey Reader" who attended a wedding where the bride's grandmother pushed the younger women out of the way so she could catch the bouquet.

At my wedding seven years ago, my grandmother also made sure she caught the bouquet. But unlike "New Jersey Reader," I was delighted - and proud! (My grandparents' marriage lasted more than 40 years before Grandpa passed away.) Everyone had a great time at our reception, and the "bouquet incident" (as it has become known) made the event even more memorable.

My grandmother still has the bouquet, and I know that it's very special to her. She always had a beautiful flower garden, and she was the one who supplied most of the flowers for our wedding.

I don't remember who caught the garter, but I'll always remember who caught the bouquet!

- Debra Stalnaker,

Helena, Mont.

Dear Debra: Your grandmother sounds like a special lady. Thanks for sharing a lovely memory.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

1996 Universal Press Syndicate



All of the Dear Abby columns since 1988 are available online. Search for "DEAR ABBY" in the Lifestyle section and the Deseret News archives.