WHEN IT’S 3:00 AM…and you need to talk


Why isn’t he answering? I need him! I need to talk! Actually, what I need is my best friend, an empathetic ear and kind heart to listen and then nod with the words, “Irv, I understand.”

And she did…always. Dana knew me. Dana loved me, even with my dumb doubts and insecurities. She would kiss me and say, “Irv, you know it always works out. You worry about things that never happen.”

She was right. She was always right. And then she died.

But before that, as the cancer ate away her body, Dana started to worry too. In those last months, all she talked about was me. Would I learn to run the washing machine, iron my clothes, cook decent meals for myself…change my bed sheets once a week?

In plain words, would I survive without her?

I am. But not without searing scars. I loved my wife every second of every day. Still do. Dana was my pal and muse for twenty-six years, even in the mornings before I brushed my teeth. Even with greasy hair and a stubbly beard. Even when I snored.

And now she’s gone. Has been for ten months. And I’m calling my therapist because there’s no one else I can talk to at a time like this.


He answered. Hope he won’t be mad at me.

“Hello?” I hear through my phone, said with a voice that’s still asleep.

“It’s Irv. Is it okay to call now? You said I could if I needed to.”

“What…time is it?”

I look at the clock in my dark room. “Three thirty, something. I couldn’t sleep.”

“What is it, Irv?”

“I got a check today. My books are selling. Lots of them. I didn’t know it was happening but it was, over the past two months. And now I’m kinda famous. But–”

“This couldn’t wait?”


There’s a pause. Then… “I’m happy for you Irv,” I hear as a yawn into the his phone. “We’ll talk in the office.”

“No! Don’t go!”

“Irv… It’s three thirty am.

“I have to write another book now.”

“Yes. That’s how it works. We’ll talk about it next session.”

“But suppose it’s bad?”

“You’re projecting a negative future. Don’t do it.”

“That’s what my wife always said.”

“Okay, then we’ll table this for later.”

“But I don’t know if I can write another book that works! I’m not sure why the first one did. I mean, sure, I use the writing rules, but that doesn’t always mean people love your work. Maybe I got lucky on the first one.”

“You won’t know until you try.”

“And if the next one’s lousy?”

“You write a third. Goodnight Irv.”

“But maybe I won’t get another chance! Maybe if my second novel bombs, my publisher will give up on me.”

“Sounds like the first person giving up on you, is YOU. And I realize you need to talk this out, but–”

“I miss Dana.”

“Of course you do. But this is something–”

“I don’t know if I can write without her. She always told me when my stuff sucked.”

“No. Irv. She told you when it didn’t.”

“Well, yeah. So who’s gonna tell me that now? I don’t know what to do.”

“Irv, we’re dealing with two issues – loneliness and doubt. But both feelings come from the same place. And I’ll explain tomorrow.”

“It IS tomorrow.”

“Yours maybe, but–”


“There’s a pause on the other end. Then… “Okay. The short version.”

I adjust in bed. I’m ready.

“What you’re feeling,” my shrink says, “is detachment. Detachment from that deeper part of you that’s connected to a Godly Place of Feelings. There are feelings that help you, and there are feelings that drain your confidence and leave a brown hole in your heart.”

“I scored the brown hole.”

“You’re IN the brown hole, Irv. Like a cell phone that lost the signal, you are cut off from your renewing spiritual energy. That energy is LOVE. Love in the sense that this nonphysical current nourishes our hearts and souls like sunlight bathes a plant. It’s everywhere. It’s the Universe.”

“I’m not religious.”

“Are you a thinker?”

“Too much.”

Then think about this, and let it sink in. Your fears, which are negative feelings, are not in alignment with that renewing positive energy. So you can’t blend with it. Like attracts Like, Irv. You’re attracting bad vibes. You’re stuck in the goo.”

“Yeah. I feel tired all the time.”

“You’re emotionally depleted. Depressed. And depression is what you feel when you’re pinched off from your own Soul, that part of you that plugs into the Current. Without it, you’re suffocating, and it’s painful.”

“Like a stab in my chest.”

“And in my opinion, the knife pushed in further with Dana’s cancer.”

“She left me.”

“She didn’t, Irv. She just changed. Problem is, you didn’t. You have yet to realize connection to the people you love is through positive emotions. When you’re happy you are never alone.”

“Sure. Kumbyah.”

“Hey. You called me.”

“I know. Please… Keep going.”

‘Bottom line, Irv, when you feel good, you are connected to your Soul, which is connected to Dana. When you feel bad, you are not.”

“That simple?”

“That simple. It’s always about feelings. When Dana washed your laundry, cooked your dinner, you appreciated her for that. You felt privileged and happy. When she laughed at your jokes, you again felt connected and love flowed. You could write then, couldn’t you?”

“Yeah, ‘cause all that was real.”

“Feelings are always real. When you think of her now, when a happy memory flashes through your mind, don’t you feel good? Isn’t it like she’s with you…talking to you in your head?”

“No. I’m making that up.”

“You sure? You have absolute proof physical death is the end of existence?”

“I haven’t seen proof that it isn’t.”

“But wouldn’t it be comforting to know that Dana hears you when you talk to her?”

“How can it be comforting if I don’t believe it?”

“Why are you choosing not to?

“Because I only want to believe what’s true. And Heaven is what fairy tales are about.”

“So believing in fairy tales makes you immature.”


“Irv…how can you be a writer if you don’t believe in magic? All creativity is about making something out of nothing. Isn’t that what the gods do?”

“C’mon, Doc. Get real.”

“I am, Irv. I’m explaining The Second Secret of Life. And that is: Anything that can be imagined, is real. I usually charge for that tidbit. And now it’s time for sleep.”

“Wait! I’m not feeling good yet.”

“Then talk to your wife, Irv! Talk to her! Imagine Dana’s words in your mind. If they come to you with a feeling of love, accept it and just let it be. I promise, her words will not be imagined.”

“How do you know all this?”

“Everyone has lost someone.”

I drop my head, thinking. Is this a psychological exercise for grieving people? I don’t want to be foolish if it is. And I’m not into praying.

“I don’t know if I can do this,” I tell him.

“Sure you can,” replies my therapist. “It’s similar to having heroes and villains play out their scene in your head. They seem to come alive, don’t they?”


“Then write a story about YOU, a happy tale where all wishes come true. And if thinking about it bears even one glimmer of joy, a hint of optimism, a smidgen of confidence, you’ll reach that Place of Bliss where Dana lives now. And your souls with touch.”

“I hope so.”

“Don’t hope. Believe! You have nothing to lose.”

Nothing to lose? Oh yes I have something to lose – like everything I think death is about! But…if he’s right about Dana, if she exists in some way remembering who she was, if this is really real and not just happy religion talk, then a major part of my world will surely crack and need some serious rebuilding.

I guess the next questions is: Do I want to believe there’s a Heaven when I haven’t before? Do I want Dana back, even if it’s just a feeling?

There’s no decision about this. Yes. I do.

And so I say tonight’s last words to my smart psychologist. “Okay. I’ll talk to Dana.”

“It’s a free call, Irv.”

“I know.”

“Goodnight, Irving.”

“Goodnight, Doc. Sorry I’m high maintenance.”


This post was originally published on Curiosityquills.com.



  1. Jerry's Cousin says:

    Poor Irv. A close friend would be so much cheaper, instead of calling or seeing a shrink. Maybe the bills from the psychiatrist will cure the insecurity. Maybe then, Irv will start putting to work all the things the psychiatrist has been telling him -And, maybe not. Irv needs to get out with people and get involved in something. Like bowling (I don’t like bowling). But maybe Irv will. He could get involved in activities through Temple. There are lots of strange, different groups there. That would also give him more to write about. Irv, the world is your oyster, open it – get positive!

    1. Irving H. Podolsky says:

      Yep! Irv needs to go out. And Irv does go out. He picks up his Chinese and sushi dinners, and then he eats alone, and that makes him sad.

      But he’s getting out in daylight. Really. And he’s with people, really. But it’s those nights alone in his house that brings him down – the space he shared with Dana, the bed he shared with Dana. That space is empty and so is his heart.

      It’s difficult… So he’s trying out this “prayer” thing, except he doesn’t call it that. He’s talking to Dana. That’s what he calls it – his meet-ups.

      Wednesday is another session with his therapist. Irv breaks new ground in a profound way.

      Will it make him happy? Probably not. Irv’s not the “happy” type. But he IS the loving type.

Leave a Reply