DEAR ANNIE: I am a 12-year-old boy with a problem. My dad died when I was a baby, so it's just my mom, my 22-year-old brother "Jason" and me. Mom works two jobs, so I don't see her that much. Basically, Jason has taken care of me.
Jason is my hero. He helps me with my homework, takes me places and protects me. He planned his college classes around my school schedule, so he could drop me off and pick me up every day. He gave up many nights with his friends to stay home with me when Mom had to work an extra shift.
Jason graduated from college in June and was accepted to an overseas program. I told him I would be OK with it. He left a month ago and I really thought I would be fine, but I am not. I miss him so much there are days I actually feel sick.
I said something about it to my best friend at school, and he just laughed at me. Then he told everybody and they started teasing me about it, so I said I was only joking and that I'm glad my brother is gone, which made me feel guilty.
Now I am afraid to say anything about how I feel. If I tell my mom, she will worry. Jason and I email every day and Skype a few times a week, but it's just not the same as having him here. Is there something wrong with me? What can I do to make it stop hurting so much? -- Love My Brother
DEAR BROTHER: There is nothing wrong with you. Jason has been a father substitute and it is perfectly natural for you to miss him terribly when he is so far away. But it's obvious that you want what's best for Jason, and that involves a bit of sacrifice on your end.
Some of your heartache will lessen with time, provided you focus less on Jason's absence and more on what is happening around you. Spend more time with your friends, get involved in school activities, and consider tutoring someone in a subject you are good at.
DEAR ANNIE: I am a widow in my 60s. My husband passed away several years ago.
I often find I have to introduce myself to someone who knew my husband, but not me. If I say, "I was married to John Doe," it sounds as though we were divorced. But it also doesn't sound right to say, "I am John Doe's widow."
Any suggestions? -- Anonymous, Please
DEAR ANONYMOUS: You can, of course, simply introduce yourself as you are and those who knew your husband might ask whether you are related to him. But otherwise try this: "Hello, I'm Mary Doe. I believe you knew my late husband, John."
To write to Annie's Mailbox, send to c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 Third St., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.