There are sweet words that pour from longing lips. Quiet hands that pound out work and wipe dishes clean. Bodies that come close and pause and drink in lost, in-between moments.
But who ever knew that waiting is actually a love language.
I was never good at it. Simply put, I’m still not.
I remember the words said I would later laugh at: “it’s a shame he’s so handsome. But he lives far away. I could never….”
Like an ellipse, our two points found each other again. I still wasn’t ready.
He came home for two and a half weeks and we fell in love, though we wouldn’t say those words for another month or so. I just knew how, when he left again, there was a hollowness in my chest because everything made a different kind of sense when we were with each other.
It was something new and ferocious, yet it felt the way it was always supposed to be. The way it had always been.
We got engaged way too quickly, but there is no stemming the inevitability of the tide. I didn’t mean to, honestly I didn’t, get married so young. I had no idea. I still have no idea about this deep and wide mystery of how two people become inevitable.
He left less than two months later.
I remember the last phone call – the one you can’t count on.
And less than ten others after that over the course of eight months.
I forget certain memories from high school of late nights with way too little sleep and way too much frolicking. I forget instances during my childhood that my siblings have ingrained in their memories of fights and mischief and pulling the wool over our parents’ eyes.
But I have never forgotten that feeling of hanging up the phone. Of what five thousand miles sound like on the other end of the line. Of the words you speak because you have the chance and who knows if you’ll be fortunate enough to have the chance again.
My drawer is full of letters. My heart swells at the thought of it.
Waiting is a love language.
There was waiting for him to come home.
Waiting for his time in the service to be done.
Waiting for him to learn how to live with a young, naïve twenty year old girl when he had seen the world and felt the weight of burden and the force of violence.
Waiting through the throes of adjusting to life back at home without the steady of rhythm of life in the service.
Waiting to get home. Waiting to build this life together. Waiting to learn how to forgive and remember how we were friends as much as we were lovers in this play.
I have turned back into the girl who waited. And am a woman who still waits.
His uniforms are in the furthest recesses of the closet and those days are faded as are our young, bright eyes and, truthfully, the hair at the crowns of our head. There are parts of him only a very few know and now they are scattered miles apart. Except for he and I. As the world churns and thrums ahead and on and on. Some parts wait, in the quiet, unseen. I see it, though.
Intimacy has been built in a lifetime that bridges in between the beginning and now. There is no wait now. We are home.
And yet, every Veterans Day weekend I become the girl who waited again. It’s my honor. I would wait a thousand times over to see him walk back through those chain-link gates. I would wait a thousand times over if I needed to so we could have the life we have now.
I would honor the wait. The pause. The uncertainty. For the thousands of days that came after.
The universe hangs on the rhythm of waiting. For seasons to recede and fade into the next one. For planets which spin and orbit in the recesses of the unknown and unchartered heavens. For the tides that beat against the shores. The moon which waxes and wanes. The seeds hidden beneath the layers of earth, humming quietly with new life waiting to emerge.
When the spring burst back, I boarded a plane. A few days later, he came back to me.
I thought the wait was over.
I thought waiting meant transition, inconsistency and wanting.
Now I’ve learned the language of waiting can mean consistency. Expectation. Growth. A building and gathering. A longing. It means we are alive.
And that we hope for our tomorrows.