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Imagine all that business of dating, all over again. Dear Bel I’m 61 and have a good life, with a great circle of friends who I go walking and dancing with most weeks. I thought I was doing really well by not getting upset, but for the past two weeks I’ve gradually fallen apart.The endless wait for ‘true love’ — like hunting for a unicorn across all the forests of the world and then wondering on your deathbed why you weren’t content with the real, flesh-and-blood creature who showed such devotion. Now that she’s finally gone, I just can’t stop crying.

But how long will it be before I can put my arms around her again? In my walking group, I’m the fifth parent whose child has emigrated. I’ve surfed the net for a support group, but found nothing.Imagine what would happen if this lovely lady were to meet another man next week, experience a coup de foudre and call time on your two-year relationship. I am so proud of them and they are a great comfort to me.I want you to think carefully how you would feel and value what you have accordingly. As I write, my elder daughter has just arrived in New Zealand — she’s gone there to live with her future husband.Fortunately I know it won’t happen — or perhaps it is tempting fate to say that.Sad and traumatic family experiences (in your case, the loss of your husband; in mine, the end of my first marriage) can strengthen close bonds and we should celebrate that. For a start, you say your daughters are your life and yet you have created a fulfilling life of your own; one which many people would envy.Actually, I chose your letter because it raises a truly important issue, which causes untold misery — and always has. What a pesky and pernicious thing it is — this hankering after the earth moving and the waves crashing on the shore and the bones igniting and breath stopping . You have painted a picture of such a good relationship that every lonely reader your age who longs for companionship will want to smack you for being so obtuse. Then —believe it or not — in the same postbag I found that a lady called Sylvia, writing with her own problem, had copied out for me that very poem!


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