Dear Amy: My dear sister took her own life nine years ago at age 45, having suffered from mental illness for most of her adult life.
When she was 20, my sister married a man who had little compassion and his own drug problems. They had two children during all this chaos and then divorced. The kids were estranged for a time from their mom, partly due to her ex-husband's constant smears, but the last few years of her life she had a pretty good relationship with her children, and I was happy for that.
At the time of my sister's death, the kids were both young adults.
Soon after her death, I received a notebook of various items belonging to my sister.
Among them are notes she kept, per advice from her divorce lawyer, concerning her ex-husband. There are notes taken that are not complimentary about her ex, and what she went through before, during and after the divorce.
There are also personal recommendations that were given to my sister that say lovely things about her, as well as cards and pictures. (Despite her problems she was a sweet child, woman and mother.)
I wish to send this whole notebook to her adult daughter (she's 31).
Should I edit this notebook, taking out things that are not complimentary of this adult child's father, with whom she has a relationship? Or should I send everything, because it is her mother's history?
It feels wrong to "pick and choose" just to keep the unpleasant side of things hidden. What do you say?
— Missing My Sis
Dear Missing: Records gathered and kept during a relationship's lowest point (divorce) represent a perspective designed to present one person's most negative behavior. Because your sister is gone and can't edit or revise this portion of her personal papers, you have to ask yourself, "What purpose will sharing this serve?"
In this case, I think you should edit the notebook, pass the material about your sister along to her daughter, and let her know that you have redacted portions having to do with their divorce. If she wishes to see them, share them with her.
Dear Amy: I am leaving in a few short weeks to study abroad for a semester in England. I've been waiting for this for years, and I'm ecstatic.
For the past 10 months I've been dating a great guy who is supportive about my going abroad. He says that although it will be different, he is not worried.
I wasn't worried either, until one of my professors told me that two-thirds of all relationships fail when one partner goes abroad.
Amy, I don't want this to fail. I want to be in the third of relationships that survive.
Any advice for keeping the relationship strong while separated by thousands of miles?
His visiting is not an option, but I know technology will be a godsend.
— Long Distance Love
Dear Long Distance: A separation of limited duration is easily survivable. You and your guy should have a standing Skype date a couple of times a week, and you can easily email updates and photos back and forth (international texting and calling is expensive). Writing and sending letters is also a great way to share your own experience.
Technology collapses distances. My caution for you is to not shackle yourself to your relationship (and technology) so much that you would waste this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to actually be in a foreign country.
Dear Amy: I sympathize with the man ("Snored Out") who wrote about his snoring girlfriend.
My partner is a tremendous snorer. At first, I tried earplugs, but eliminating the sound caused me to realize he is also a restless sleeper.
Finally we realized the most considerate, loving choice was to sleep in separate beds at night (even if we start out in the same bed, one or the other leaves to seek sleep).
It works for us, and we still find ways to be intimate throughout the day — fully rested and happy with each other.
Dear Rested: A "snoring room" makes perfect sense to me.