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Abby

DEAR ABBY: Ten years ago, I had an affair with a married man that resulted in a pregnancy and then a miscarriage. I was also married at the time. Pathology testing revealed that the child had a rare genetic disorder inherited on the paternal side. My husband's genetic test indicated that he was not a carrier. The revelation led to my admission of the affair and our divorce.

I didn't tell the other man. His wife was unable to have children, so I didn't think it would impact him. I recently found out he is divorced and remarried to a younger woman. I have no idea whether they plan to have children, but I'm torn about telling him he is a carrier for that life-threatening disorder.

Selfishly, I do not want to reopen this shameful period of my life, so my instinct is to leave it alone, but I feel morally obligated to let him know. Should I contact him and tell him he was the father of the child and that he is a carrier of this genetic abnormality? -- TORN IN MISSISSIPPI

DEAR TORN: The kind thing to do would be to contact your former lover privately. Explain that you do not mean to intrude, but he needs to know something important. Then inform him that it could save him and his wife a world of heartache if they have genetic testing done before planning to have a child, and why. You would be doing them both an enormous favor if you disclose it.

DEAR ABBY: Decades ago, while I was a college student, a friend took the time and interest to help me through a severe bout of depression. She likely saved my life. She had no special training, just a kind heart and a willing ear. At the time, I didn't realize the profound impact she had made. Our lives diverged, and I never heard from her again.

Recently, I finally decided to reach out and thank her, but unfortunately, an online search revealed her 10-year-old obituary. From the notes in the guest book, I discovered she had suffered many personal hardships throughout her adult life, which contributed to her early death.

Because I was not able to help her as she helped me, I want to pass along two important lessons I learned: (1) Thank people and tell them you care before it is too late, and (2) be willing to lend a hand and an ear to someone in need, because you may be that one person who affects their life. She had a saying I would like to share, which has guided my life: "Just open your 'I' and LIVE becomes LOVE." -- WITH LOVE IN MINNESOTA

DEAR WITH LOVE: I'm sorry for the loss of your caring and compassionate friend. I'm glad you took the time to write and share what a meaningful role she had in your life. That she made herself available to listen when you needed it is something more people should do because we live in a stressful society in which many individuals feel lost and alone. And I love her "motto"!

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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