DEAR ABBY: I am a junior in high school and will graduate next year. I attend a private school where I have made many good friends — teachers included — and have created many happy memories.

I have just been hit with the realization that my time in high school is running out. Once I leave for college, I may never see or talk to my friends here again. I can’t process the thought of having such great friends and mentors and losing them. I’m afraid for the future and how I will miss everything I’ve experienced at my school.

Do you have any suggestions on how to deal with all this? I can barely sleep because I feel like it’s only going to get worse. — LEAVING IT ALL BEHIND IN LOUISIANA

DEAR LEAVING IT ALL BEHIND: You have the rest of your junior year and senior year of high school to enjoy. Please don’t cloud them by worrying that you will lose touch with your friends and mentors. Once you graduate, you will have the Internet and social networking sites to keep you in touch, and you can see each other during vacations.

You have great adventures ahead of you — and so do they. True friendships don’t have to end because of distance. While some of them may, others last a lifetime. And those are the ones that count.

DEAR ABBY: I have no contact with my mother for many reasons. It was difficult to sever the relationship, but after my son was born — for his safety and well-being — I felt I had no choice.

My mother has seen my son once, when he was 6 months old. She had just been released from jail and arrived at my home stoned and out of it. I made sure she found a safe way home and haven’t spoken to her since.

My son will be 3 soon. Yesterday we were talking about families and he asked, “You don’t have a mommy?” I replied, “Yes, I do. Her name is Cindy.” Thankfully, he left it at that. But it started me thinking about what I should say when he asks me questions about his grandmother. I had planned on talking to him when he was older because addictions can run in families, and I want him to be aware of it when making choices in his teen and later years. What do you tell a 3-year-old who wonders who his grandma is? — OUT OF ANSWERS IN WISCONSIN

DEAR OUT OF ANSWERS: You have already started the dialogue. When your son wants to know why Grandma Cindy doesn’t visit, that will be the time you tell him she can’t be around because she’s sick and isn’t able to be. As your son grows older, continue to answer his questions honestly and in an age-appropriate way.

DEAR ABBY: When we are in a restaurant eating a meal and someone we know comes by our table, he or she always reaches out to shake hands with me to be friendly. I am from the country and sometimes I pick up chicken strips, French fries, fish or hush puppies to eat them — naturally my fingers get grease on them. Also, I don’t know whether that person has washed his or her hands or not. So, what’s a polite way to refuse to shake with someone? I don’t want to be rude. I try not to bother people when they’re eating because I believe that is a private time. — ARKANSAS DINER

DEAR DINER: All you have to say is, “I’d love to shake hands, but mine are greasy.” That’s not rude; it’s considerate — and the person will probably thank you.

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

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