Dear Annie: What's with people saying "I apologize" instead of "I'm sorry"? The former is just used to tell somebody that you know you did something wrong. When you tell somebody that you apologize, to me it means nothing. But when you go up to somebody and say you're sorry for what you did, that means it's coming from the heart. If you would please put this in the paper, I would appreciate it very much. — Paulie
Dear Paulie: This is a very interesting observation. You may be onto something. I have noticed that "I apologize" tends to come up more in business settings, perhaps because people think it sounds more professional. But you're right that it just doesn't quite have the ring of remorse that "I'm sorry" does, especially in more personal contexts. I imagine I'll hear from a lot of readers on this subject, as these seemingly small linguistic nuances always evoke big responses. Thanks for writing.
Dear Annie: My husband died suddenly, and we didn't have a will. I had no idea that it would be so important. So many decisions are out of my hands, and everything is taking 10 times longer than it would have if we'd had a will. So on top of my sadness, I have to deal with lawyers and a judge who makes decisions that are meant to help us but end up costing more and more money. If we'd had a will, I would have been able to keep my husband's business going. But that is uncertain now. The judge has appointed an extra attorney, in addition to the one I hired, to make sure that the kids' best interests are protected. I was already doing that, of course.
If we'd had a will, we could have been specific about all of that. But my husband was only in his 40s, so we hadn't gotten around to writing a will. Never thought it would happen to us.
I started to write this letter as a question about whether you could help me move this process faster, but I know that you can't. So perhaps you could publish this letter as a reminder to readers to write their wills. Don't put it off! — Judged in Jarvis
Dear Judged: I am so sorry for your loss. And I'm sorry for what you've been going through with the business. I appreciate your sharing your heartache and hardship so that others might be spared. When it comes to drafting wills, there's no such thing as too early; there's only too late.
Dear Annie: In reply to the couple who moved from their hometown and are now torn between family and friends when returning for visits:
You should not shoulder all the burden for maintaining your friendships. Invite your friends to come visit you so that you can spend "individual" time with them. The highway runs in both directions. — Gloria in Roanoke, Va.
Dear Gloria: "The highway runs in both directions." What a perfect summation! Thank you for it.
"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to [email protected]