Worth Waiting For?

Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree Curves.

Am I the girl who waits forever? Or do people just think I will?

The Long-Awaited Honest-to-God Secret to Being Happy

It’s true that in too many relationships—with  people, organizations, even my hometown  church—I stayed too long. The other party left me  long before I left it, but I don’t like to give up on things and so I stuck it out, even when the other party had long since abandoned any sense of  emotional support for me. When I commit to some- thing, it’s generally for the long haul.

I’ve lived by the idea that I can wait a long time for something good. Sometimes,  that’s been with wonderful results. Other times, I’ve  waited a long time for some- thing good and the results have been that I just waited a long time.

Hence, I suppose it seems that I am the girl who waits forever, and all the while being blasted for being impatient. How ironic.

Right after I filed for divorce, I took a road trip to see my parents in Georgia and drove through the cemetery where my grandparents and great-grandparents and great- great-grandparents are buried. It must have been 95 degrees in the  sun,  but  the  beautiful  Siberian  husky  that someone had dumped off dug out  a  cooler hole in the ground and waited for its owner to return. My  parents’ health was too poor to worry about feeding a new pet when a  hospital stay might get in the way. If I’d had a clue about my own future and a country home where she could run, the girls and I would have loaded that dog into our car and taken her home.

She was  beautiful,  special,  and  very  different.  How could anyone have thrown her away? And what did they ever do to inspire such loyalty?

In July, with a heat index of 115 or more, the dog was still there,  and  my divorce  was lumbering  along slowly and  I  wanted  so  badly  to   take  her  home  with  us. Passersby  still  brought  table  scraps  and  dog  food  and pans of water. Even if I’d had a home for the dog, she could  not have been coaxed to leave her spot. She was waiting on someone who’d left her behind.

That Thanksgiving,  my divorce had just wrapped up and when we visited my parents, the dog was still at the cemetery,  then  and  again  at  Christmas,  and  when  the weather turned bitterly cold. Still the dog would not leave. Still  she  waited,  loyally,  faithfully,  for  the  person  she loved to return and reclaim her.

They never did. I was told that someone else who’d been  feeding  and  water  the  dog  daily  for  8  months coaxed her to  a  new and loving home. I was glad. She waited a long time for the ones  she’d loved to change their minds and come back for her. Had  someone else not fallen in love with her, she would have waited forever or died right there.

Recently, I heard from an old boyfriend.  When I say old, I mean  from long, long ago. Someone I’d virtually forgotten about. He couldn’t make a commitment but he didn’t want  to lose  me either,  so he dangled  me on a string for a  long  time and never did really end the relationship. I waited for him to make up his mind, to come back, to figure out his own problems. Now, after all this time, he has…sorta…and so he’s contacted me out of the blue.

He’d like to take up where we left off, but with the same  relationship.  That’s  right.  Non-committal.  Interested in my life only when he’s ready to be and then off again. He always thought I’d wait for  him and that I’d wait forever. And that I’m still willing to wait forever. He always thought I’d be the one he could depend on when everything else turned to crap. He thought I’d always be there.

He thought I was the girl who would wait forever. During all these  years, I’ve gone ahead and lived my life, largely with other people who thought I’d wait for- ever for whatever crumbs they were willing to give, but I suppose that’s part of a  pattern. So this man who’s not been part of my life for such a very long  time pops up when it’s convenient for him and wants me to drop everything in my life to take up where he left off.

And he’s  hurt.  He’s…angry.  Yes,  he’s  livid.  In  all those years that passed, he excluded me from his life and now he wants me in his life. On his terms. And he’s furious at me for saying no. He’s hurt that I didn’t wait.

All this time, he’s carried me in his heart as his good ol’ reliable Lorna, always out here somewhere,  willing to be there for him when the Prodigal boyfriend returned.

When people walk out of your life and return a week later, you may be a bit bruised, but you haven’t changed that drastically.  When they return a month or two later, more  changes   have   taken   place.   Changes   in  them, changes they don’t realize. And changes in you that they don’t realize. To them, you’re still the same person, no matter how many years pass. To him, I was still the girl who would wait forever.

I’m not sure where the point of no return is, the point where I stop waiting for someone to work through their issues. I suppose it has to do  with the circumstances of the  separation  more  than  anything  else.  And  whether trust  has  been  irrevocably  broken.  And  whether  they come  back to me just because I’m warm and fuzzy and reliable or whether they just want to be with me and al- ways have.

I can wait a long time for something  really  special. And I’m not the girl who waits forever either.

But I’m the girl worth waiting for.