Dear Virginia,

My husband is a wonderful man. He has a very good job in a small environmental group, he is a Buddhist, he believes passionately in the survival of the human race and campaigns endlessly about it. I feel privileged to be with him sometimes, and feel just by being married to him that I am making my own contribution to help get us out of this global mess we've got ourselves into. But next month, after a lot of medical problems, it seems I have to have a hysterectomy. We have two wonderful children - one a vicar, one who works for a charity - but they are both abroad, and the operation coincides with a week's convention in the States on inner enlightenment that my husband is chairing. He has told me he will ring every day,but I feel pitifully worried about the operation and wish he could cancel his week. Part of me says I will be all right and I know I will cope - I have masses of friends who promise they will visit day and night, and the hospital is marvellous and this is an important time for my husband - but I wish I could stop feeling so childish. Anyway, I would feel terribly guilty if I begged him to stay. What should I do?

Yours sincerely, Lucinda

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