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Wedding Woes

Why not just tell Betty you were thinking of her and wanted to reach out?

Dear Prudence,
Twenty years ago, I worked at a university admissions office. My co-worker “Betty” and I spent a lot of time together—we ate meals together, went shopping together, visited each other’s homes, and shared confidences. After I left that job and moved away, our contact gradually tapered off; we last spoke about five years ago. Last week I received an alumni publication and noticed that Betty was receiving an award. The accompanying photos gave me a shock. She was shockingly thin, wore a hat or a scarf on her head in every photo, and generally looked as if she was suffering from a serious condition, although her health was not mentioned in the article. I want to call her to express my concern and have what might be a final conversation. I don’t know how to begin. I’m pretty sure I shouldn’t start with, “Gee, Betty, you look awful. What’s up?”

Ten years ago a childhood friend died of a brain tumor while I lived across the country and I didn’t find out until she was in hospice and unable to speak. She died a few days later and I still regret that I never could tell her what she meant to me. How do I approach this conversation with Betty? I should add that I only have her work number and usually get her voicemail.
—What to Say

Re: Why not just tell Betty you were thinking of her and wanted to reach out?

  • "Betty, congratulations on the award I'm so happy for you! I've missed being in touch, let's catch up for coffee sometime soon". 

    Do not reference her physical appearance at all (or, you know like ever. To anyone.)

    Exactly!  What is wrong with just reaching out?  I'd assume (hope) the LW would want to do that anyway after seeing that Betty is getting an award.

    The LW also needs to keep in mind that she is now in the category of "long lost acquaintance".  Betty probably wouldn't bring her illness up, even if she has one that is common knowledge to everyone.

    Wedding Countdown Ticker
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