I have always been very vocal about my stance on fairy tales. I am a firm believer because I am living proof that a dream is a wish your heart makes, and that when you truly believe, those wishes and dreams can come true. How long did I wait in my ivory tower, trapped by my evil stepmother? When I escaped, I fell into a Wonderland of new freedoms, which led me down some very dark paths. I waited for a knight in shining armor to come to my rescue, and that he did, only to fly away like the Wizard in his balloon, leaving without poor Dorothy. Then my prince charming came back, slayed the dragon that held me captive, and we strolled off into the sunset together, happily ever after.
Happily ever after. That’s how they end, and for good reason. We leave the rest of their lives out, the pleasant bliss that comes from the culmination of so many sleepless nights, bitter tears and unsent letters. Their love has endured this long, and they deserve to live the rest of their days together in a peace that can only come from a soul that has rested upon the shoulder of its mate. It is the reward that Karma gives to those who have endured the prison sentence of living a life halved.
The women in my family bear crosses and carry torches. It is no wonder that I have grown to idolize the idea of living a fairy tale. For twenty years, I have watched a love affair bloom in the shadows. It has been a secret story told to me, shown in snapshots throughout my life: knowing smiles, the way her face lit up as his name floated by in conversation, and the wistful way in which he looked back at her every time he rode off into the sunset without her.
She never waved, because she always knew. He always told her and she always believed him. He would always come back for her. All he needed was a word, any word, it didn’t matter. Whatever utterance fell from her lips he would scoop into his hands like precious gems and mold them into whatever he needed to hear. They lived through the present by feeding their future. They were waiting for each other in Someday, and Someday hadn’t come yet.
But he said it would, and she believed him. Because he was the only person who was honest enough to tell her he didn’t love her enough yet to love her enough. Just as those words, those pitiful “I can’ts” echoed through history, whispered into our ears by the men we loved most, in both moments in time, she and I, we declared all or nothing on this War of Love. I dug in my heels and though I flailed through the next five years, my heart stayed firmly tied to the roots to which I had left it, growing like a lecherous weed near a parking lot that was very familiar with a little maroon truck. When I’d had enough of the flailing, I came home and I dug up my roots. I got messy and the hole I dug around myself was pretty big, and some wondered if I would be able to get out of it. But I went back for love and I found it. It was fragile, but why wouldn’t it be after five years of being abandoned in the elements? After three more, though, it has thrived into what has been a pretty damn successful happy ending so far.
Her roots, they sprawled. She planted herself firmly, soaking in the sunshine and sometimes choking in the rain. She bloomed and she wilted with the seasons, and as he drifted in and out of her life. She knew her wait would be a long one, and hid quite well, the fact that it was this patience that counted more than any other patience. That’s why she didn’t have any other patience to spare.
Every year, it came in the form of a phone call. The check in, the synchronization of timelines. The question, the word. Yet?
It never was. Not yet. But Someday.
I feel many things at the loss of a recent friend, but I feel, more than anything, a feeling of devastation, like a child that has discovered the dirty secret behind Santa Claus. I feel the wrenching horror of Scarlett O’Hara’s broken heart, watching Rhett walk away from her forever. There is no other word but sad. I am so sad that I am watching this love story end in a pile of loose, empty pages. A book savagely torn apart by whatever unnamed entity that has caused this twist of Fate.
I look at her now, and I wonder, “how will she end?” I thought I knew, and so did she. We looked forward to her happy ending like children waiting for the ice cream man. I had seen my own story play out exactly as dreamed, and why should she, who taught me to dream, not be afforded the same blessing? When I saw her face that afternoon, when his name crawled from her lips, like they couldn’t bear to be heard lest they come true, I didn’t recognize her. I didn’t see her; I heard her. Instead, I saw him. I saw the way his eyes crinkled when he stared at her, smiling. I saw the way she pressed her cheek against his chest when he held her, a little too long for anyone else’s comfort, not that they gave a damn. I saw myself in my own five years without my love, and I felt in that moment, all the sadness of those five years. In her face, I saw those five years, multiplied for as long as Forever keeps her from him now.
Nearly twenty years, she waited. Patience wasn’t a problem. Someday hadn’t come yet, so it was still coming.
But how do you wait, when your Someday dies?
I haven’t written in a few weeks. I’ve been holding tightly onto whatever I have of Today, and living as much as I can of each Tomorrow that I’m given, and giving my Yesterdays a lot of consideration. Life is short, but love is forever. The difference in how long each truly lasts is a matter of perspective. When you’re without one or the other, it seems a terrible injustice.