I spent an evening with a guy I've been wanting to date for some time. After a few drinks he confided to me that he has a serious heart condition. He said he doesn't expect to live past age 23 and could die any day.
I don't know the details of his condition, but I'm sure he believes what he told me. Because of this, his life has taken a downward spiral. He has been drinking a lot, failed multiple classes last semester, and feels studying is futile if he may live only a year after graduating.
For lack of evidence to the contrary, I accepted his statement as accurate. I don't think he'd make up something like that. What can I say or do to show my support? How can I encourage him not to give up on his dreams and his goals? He's only 19. How can I be strong for him?
Since he told me about his heart, I haven't been able to think about anything else. I don't know how to process this information. How do you comfort someone you care about who's facing mortality at such a young age?
- Brokenhearted Guy in the South
DEAR BROKENHEARTED GUY: If you want to be a friend to this young man, ask how many doctors have told him about his poor prognosis. If the answer is only one, urge him to get a second opinion because there are medical advances in cardiology happening every day, and he may not be nearly as close to the end as he fears.
You say he's still in school. Suggest he talk to someone at the student health center about his depression because it is interfering with his grades. And while you're at it, suggest he stop drinking and neglecting his studies because, in the end, he might live.
Friend can't sit still
& enjoy time together
DEAR ABBY: My best friend of more than 20 years is a busy person. She has a demanding job, a husband, two children, and extended family she cooks for on most holidays. She also cares for an elderly distant relative. She has a heart of gold and is wonderful to me and my family.
When I'm invited to her house for dinner, she refuses to let me help her clear the table. I'm not happy with that, but I accept it. The problem arises when I invite her over for dinner. Because we don't get to visit often, I'll pile the dishes in the kitchen so I can spend time with her and wash them later. But she cannot sit still and just have a conversation with me or anybody. You will find her in the kitchen, scraping plates, soaking pans, and hand-washing the wineglasses.
This has become a point of contention because I like to unwind and clean my kitchen after my guests have left. I have tried working with her, but she prefers to power through the mess by herself, which gives us less time to sit and talk. How can I get through to her?
- Anxious in New York
DEAR ANXIOUS: Assuming you have spoken to your friend more than once about this, I think it's time to accept her the way she is, rather than the way you would like her to be. Some people are unable (notice I didn't say unwilling) to just sit still and have a conversation, and she appears to be one of them. If this is her only flaw, consider yourself blessed to have a sparkling kitchen when she leaves.