My Wife Left Me On St Valentine’s Day and I Haven’t Seen Her Since.

The practice of gratitude.

Adrian Padina
3 min readAug 4, 2020


14th February 2020 was the last time I physically saw my wife. On St Valentine’s Day I waved her off at Dammam International Airport in Saudi Arabia as she made her her way to Spain, thinking that I would be waving her back about 6 weeks later…and it’s coming up to 6 months.

We moved to Saudi Arabia in November 2019 due to work, she with a tourist visa and me with a work visa. My visa is for a year, her’s was for 3 months. As I had already organised the paperwork for her residency we thought she may as well go back home and process it quickly via the Saudi Embassy. Shame that the crystal ball wasn’t working too well at the time otherwise we would have seen her stuck in Spain with the borders shut and done something about it beforehand.

Work has separated us on various occasions during the 32 years we’ve been together. The first time oddly enough was also in Saudi Arabia, in 1994, during the 3 months it took to organise her residency. Other times we were at least able to see each other every 2 to 3 weeks for long weekends.

Even though we’ve been through this before, it has never been for this long or with this much uncertainty, and that is what is so difficult. “When…?” is the recurring question. When will we see each other again? When will this be over? When will the borders open? When will they shut again?

And when will I hold her in my arms? When will I look into her eyes once more? When will I wake up next to her and hold her close? When will we make love again? When, when, when?

Neither of us have had the virus that we know of, so we are fortunate to be able to ask these questions. Not so the many thousands of spouses, children and parents who have lost members of their family. For now I do know that I will hold her again, that the memory of the last time I did will be replaced for me by a new one, but for so many people this will not be possible.

And it is this thought that makes it easier to get by day to day. Sure, there are times when this is depressing, times when I need to be with her to laugh and just be silly together. These are the times we look forward to in our FaceTime video calls, when our faces are less than arm’s length away. Yes, I can still look into her eyes, see her expression coming in live over my WiFi. Other people only have saved photos and videos to look back on as well as their memories.

So I practice gratitude when things get tough. I remind myself that this is temporary, that life will get back to (a new) normal. I am grateful that coronavirus has only touched us in this way so far. I have my work, I have my Thursday nights here in Saudi with my friends and neighbours over a chicken biriyani and a few laughs. I have my gym, my photography and my writing.

I just long to be with my lifelong companion, my most beloved friend, my wife. And to celebrate St Valentine’s Day together once more.



Adrian Padina

Master hotelier who writes and photographs. Take a peek inside my world.