DEAR CAROLYN: I have a never-married friend of 45 years, "Anne." We live far apart but we get together a couple of times a year. Last year my daughter and her friends invited my husband and me to join them at a resort for a week. We had an excellent time, and my daughter invited us to join them again. Now Anne wants to be included. I love her but she can be difficult — complaining, thin-skinned, finding fault with food, etc. My daughter loves Anne, but I don't want to share this special time with my daughter and her friends, who I know and love so well. How do I get out of inviting Anne without hurting her feelings? I've told her it's not my place to invite her. She wants me to ask my daughter.
ANONYMOUS: "I am sorry to disappoint you, but I won't ask my daughter."
You were right the first time: It's not your place to invite anyone, nor would it be even if Anne were easygoing. How Anne feels about that isn't relevant. Hold your line guilt-free.
Anne's well-being does matter, though, so please consider embracing her some other way. "Never-married" means she's on her own, I'm guessing? So she might feel pandemic-isolated right now. If loneliness is at all motivating her, then maybe extra efforts to be in touch would help meet that need.
DEAR CAROLYN: I am set to be a bridesmaid this month — they have not canceled their wedding yet. Their state has a moderate amount of cases but is soon opening, and I live in one of the "hot spot" states. Their governor has issued guidelines that allow going ahead with their wedding (of 50 people).
I am at a loss of what to do. She is one of my closest friends, but I do not feel it is safe to have a wedding. I have said only that I will have to see where my state's guidelines stand before traveling, so my RSVP is up in the air. But inside I am saying, "What are you thinking having a wedding during this crisis?!"
Am I worrying for nothing? I do not want to miss her big day but also feel I have a responsibility to not risk bringing the virus there — or back home with me, as I do live with two older adults who could be at risk. Any advice?
Ball of Stress
BALL OF STRESS: It will feel terrible to miss the wedding.
If you attend, though, and either take the virus there or home to someone not strong enough to fight it off, then that will be a much heavier weight to carry.
There are risk calculations behind everything we do — even a non-pandemic run to buy milk. We make them both for ourselves and for those whose paths we cross (or don't cross). So there is no such thing, in a sense, as worrying "for nothing." There is only worrying in- or out of proportion to the given circumstances.
I'm so sorry for your friend, trying to celebrate life at a moment when death won't stand for being ignored. But your worry fits the circumstances perfectly: Assessing the risk to yourself and others takes precedence over the friendship. I hope she understands it's not about her.