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Long Day's Gurney Into Night

After eight years of marriage, my wife and I have decided to split up. The deaths of several close relatives changed us both in radically different ways. She grew cautious and careful, and I started living as if there were no tomorrow. A close female friend warned me that I would die a lonely old man with no wife to take me to chemo when I got cancer. I get the impression from a number of people that I should aspire to have a wife and children at my side as I make my final exit. The prospect of dying surrounded by loving family is obviously preferable to dying alone. But, is it really worth it to stay in a relationship with little life left in it simply so you'll have company at the end?--Wife And Death Issues

With the exception of Dick Clark, we're all going to die sometime. The problem is predicting how and when. Even if you die surrounded by family, there's no way to guarantee they'll be loving minions, not just one or two of your kids who've popped by to let you know you failed them as a parent, and to ask for dibs on the couch. And, what if the wife goes first? Then you'll end up being the one giving all the cancer care, and you'll be left hitchhiking to chemo in return.

Even if you don't opt for a "hedge-your-bets-at-the-end" arrangement, don't be too quick to assume you'll have ample room to stretch your legs at chemo. Although some people define family rather narrowly -- people they married, gave birth to, or whose hair they pulled when they were 8 -- maybe family is people in your life who act like family.

People inspire other people to feel this way about them because they know how to live, not because they've made a pact, "You watch my IV bags, and I'll watch yours." Live hard, and you still might luck out and end up with a loved one by your side.

Copyright 2003, Amy Alkon, all rights reserved. Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or e-mail AdviceAmy@aol.com (www.advice goddess.com)

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