I’m about to break a promise…sort of, which I made to my wife a few months ago. She asked me to refrain from writing about her, and us, for internet publication. But I knew what she meant by that. She didn’t want our personal conflicts out “there”, which hardly exist, anyway. And what little of that there is will remain private. But while she’s in Germany visiting family, I’m going to do something I think would please her.

I am going to tell you why I love my wife…so completely, I would shatter if she died.

I know. I shouldn’t be thinking about death, that she will someday leave me. Or that I will leave her. But I am. I’ve reached the age where loved ones are dying around me. And I’m watching the people left behind, of which I am one. And we older ones, who are feeling the loss, are now hearing the proverbial ticking clock.

As I said, my wife is in Germany. She’s visiting her family. She makes the trip twice a year, three weeks each time. And while she’s away, I revert to the way I was before we met – a man living alone with time to think and no distractions. And I keep the house the way I want it. Just like I want it. No arguments about what goes where or how hot and cold the rooms should be. And yet, with all this freedom, I’m missing all the things that bug me about the kindest, most generous and compassionate friend I’ve ever had. And will ever have – my wife.

So I miss the dish rags she keeps in the sink, which I’m sure are bacteria hotels waiting to infect me. I miss her shoes scattered near the bed which I collect before our house keeper comes to clean. I miss the way she interrupts me after she’s asked me how my day has been, because a thought burst into her mind which she can’t wait to share. I miss the times she tells me my hair is too long and that I’d look younger if it were cut back to an inch. I miss her concern about her weight, and now mine. I miss her shopping for me, even though I constantly tell her, “Please! I don’t need anything.” And she counters with, “Your shirts looks shabby.”

I miss her spontaneous decisions to “tidy” my office and desk drawers, which drives me into rage when I can’t find my things and I consider divorce. I miss her war with cell phones and how she tortures them by dropping those devices into toilet bowls when she bends to flush, or inadvertently puts them through our washer’s spin cycle inside the pockets of her jeans.

I miss hunting for our cordless phones which she leaves hidden in the house under towels or pillows or yesterday’s mail.

But I also miss the good stuff: my clean underwear and socks finding their way back to my drawers because she put them there, her show-and-tell stories where she gets so excited she can’t finish a sentence, her frustration over the state of our country and her fear that we’ll lose more of it’s freedom. And I miss her beading hobby and the necklace gifts she makes for friends, and her infinite desire turn me “preppy” and wear bland, V-neck sweaters and beige chinos, and oxford shoes.

I miss her inability to read my sarcasm as humor, even after thirty-six years. I miss her nightly reminders to lock up the house and turn on the alarm. “It’s the husband’s job,” she tells me, as well as taking out the garbage, watering the lawn, grilling outside and writing her business letters.

I miss the way she acts like my nurse when my body’s in pain, because she IS a nurse, registered in three countries. I miss her constant counseling, “Stop writing about sex. People will think you’re repressed.”

I miss her gentle reminders to reduce judgments and to accept people the way they are. I miss her weekly shopping sprees, and my question that follows them, “Do we really need that?” And I miss her answer. “It’s not for us. These are presents.”

I miss her panicked call to me when she can’t get her Mac Book to log on to The Huff Post. I miss serving her breakfast in bed each morning before work, even though I HATE sleeping on toast crumbs!

I miss when she hogs the mattress space on the elfin antique bed we’ve been sharing since 1975. And I miss her smile when I come home from work. And the hug. And the kiss.

I miss shuffling her cards for solitaire because she never learned how, nor does she want to, because my mixing she says, improves her score.

I miss holding her hand in bed while watching a DVD film. And I miss the way she always falls asleep at the third act climax.

But most of all, I miss HER.

Right now, she’s away. And yes, in a week she’s coming home. But there will be a time when she won’t, when she can’t, when her body finally betrays her, as mine will too. That day one of us will have to leave first. And thinking about that makes me sad.

My wife has been sick with one malady or another all through her life. She was a war baby in Europe, and grew up hungry while playing in the bombed out wreckage of apartments and churches. Her father was a Lutheran minister who was imprisoned by the Nazis for speaking out against Germany’s inhumanity against the Jews, against the world. After months in jail he was sent to the front and served as a non-combat communications officer. At the end of the war, when Germany surrendered, he had to trek back to Berlin from Italy, on foot, alone. Germany’s capital had been fire bombed and it took him weeks to find his wife and two daughters. Following the war the family struggled to survive on Care packages from the US. Maybe some were sent from my parents. Or yours.

Twenty-five years later my wife came to America, and again we united. I say again, because from the moment we met, we knew we had been friends before. So it seemed only appropriate that with the passing of three weeks, we decided to wed.

Now, many years later, my wife lives her days dealing with medical conditions. Not every waking moment, but enough so that we can’t forget she needs continued treatment and doctor’s supervision. Sometimes that gets depressing. And when it does, she predicts she will leave first. Perhaps sooner than later. And she reminds me that I must prepare for that, and live each day to its fullest while we still have each other.

But I can’t prepare for that. Life without her would not be life at all. I will crumble.

So we have shared another vow, and just recently. Whoever leaves first will wait for the other. And then somewhere, someplace else, our breakfasts in bed will continue.

THAT is one promise, I will never break.



  1. Jerry's Cousin says:

    Irv, this is a lovely story. I’m sure your wife will be pleased with it. It is sincere and from the heart. Maybe, I like the story because it reminds me so much of my situation, here at my home. I am happy with my status in life today. As you mentioned, I’m at that age were many family and friends are leaving us. That is the cycle of life and I try to accept that. At times it is difficult. My family members are dwindling, along with friends and that makes them more precious. I always try to remember to let them know as I leave them, that I love them.
    There was the situation with my “Cousin Jerry” that was difficult on many people. Yet, I loved that guy in a special way, even though he pushed people away with his mannerisms. May he rest in peace.

    1. Irving H. Podolsky says:

      Dear JC,

      Within my belief system, your cousin IS at peace. I choose to have faith that there is a “Going Home” for all of us. If it’s true, we’ll all be happily rewarded. If there is no place to go, well…we won’t be around to be disappointed. In the meantime, it’s comforting to think about a transition rather than an end.


  2. Gregor Wossilus says:

    Dear Irv,
    I will comment not with a comment but with a small letter myself … because frankly THIS IS THE BEST AND MOST MOVING STUFF I have read on your blog so far. I am in tears, so mind possible spelling mistakes.

    I miss my friend. He lives in California, he is my uncle, my mother’s sister’s husband … but for me he in the last 20 years he was always more to me than a family member. He was a friend. And later even a mentor.

    We both share the same stupid nasty humor, we both did play in rock bands as teens and young adults dreaming of hitting it big in the music world … or maybe deep down just hoping for people to love us and score some girls on the way ;-). But most of all he always really got me. Understood me … and NEVER questioned me or doubted me. Something I unfortunately did not find in my own family growing up to the extend that I needed it. It is something, I still fight about in my life.

    Well, those shortcomings aside my family made it possible for me as a teenager (!) to visit my friend in California (I grew up in Berlin, Germany and still live in Germany) a couple of times. They even sent me to a music school in L.A., giving me a chance to completely live in L.A. for 4 months. Always I stayed at my friend’s place. He took me to sites film fans worldwide dream of – he works in the movie-business in Hollywood.

    I miss his warm kind way of understanding and talking to me. I miss his smile and cheer when we both went to Magic Mountain and he though being in his fifties seemed to be 17 like me back then. I miss to see him practicing the drums on his rubber drum pad which he bend around his leg. I miss him screaming in joy when we took his brand-new car out for the first spin right after the purchase. I miss this feeling of invincibility and unlimited potential in me which he and his wife gave me every second I was together with them staying in their house. And I miss the deep talks we had about our deep feelings, our fears when we both faced job transitions and uncertain futures and our brainstorming to find solutions, exchanging of ideas and experiences.

    This sounds like my friend passed away. He did not. So why not call him via Skype and talk to him, you might ask. Correct, that is possible and happens … not as much as before since I am a young married father and life is much busier than before … But that is not the point.

    Like Irv feeling sad about the sincerity that one day he might has to let go of his wife I feel the sadness of having to let go of my friend. I am in my forties, and as you can figure he is a couple of years older and due to nature if all goes well and we both are unharmed it still is certain he will go first. And that is something I more and more push out of my mind … because it just hurts. There is nothing I can do about it. It’s the cycle of life. I know. I accept it. But accepting does not mean liking.

    All of this comes down to the simple fact: I love my friend completely in a way heterosexual men can love each other. And I don’t want to be without him, no matter how many miles are between us globally.

    Yes, try to live every day to the fullest. We so often forget that.

    AMAZING WRITING IRV. You truly moved me deeply.

    Thank you

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