Dear Abby: Woman who fled from love now regrets her hasty retreat

Dear Abby: A few years ago I met a wonderful person. I spent roughly three months with him in a budding relationship. My issue is that one night he said those three little words, and I panicked and disappeared from his life. I know it was a horrible and cowardly thing to do. I just didn’t know how to handle it other than ask him why and saying, “You can’t mean me, right?”

I have felt horrible that I vanished without any explanation and most likely hurt him. I really would like to apologize for my actions and immaturity. He didn’t deserve that type of treatment. I recently found his address and wonder if it would be all right to send an apology, or if it would be best not to open potential wounds. – Disappeared in Illinois

Dear Disappeared: Because you feel an apology and an explanation are in order, I see no harm in offering them. However, before you do, think this through. Is there more to this than a guilty conscience? Because years have passed, you both may be at different places in your lives than you were then.

One or both of you may be married or involved with others. So before you do this, be absolutely sure not only of your motivations, but also of your expectations.

Dear Abby: I have recently had discussions with friends and family about the best way to express concern for someone who is facing major surgery. Some say they’d prefer hearing about others who have undergone similar procedures successfully. (But might that set expectations that can’t be met, since not all procedures and physical circumstances are the same?) Or is it best to keep comments general?

For example: “You will be in my thoughts/prayers/heart,” or “I hope it goes even better than you hope it will.”

What’s the most helpful way to express concern? – Sensitive Subject

Dear Sensitive: Unless the surgery is for something life-threatening – in which case the thoughts, prayers and heart are necessary – keep the message upbeat and positive. Example: “Is there anything I can do for you while you’re recuperating?” And if the answer is no, say, “I’ll give you a call in a couple of days to see how you’re doing, and we’ll visit when you’re up for company.”