Everyone has been making the same joke.
Perfect Husband waited for me. For years, he waited. We met in a Shakespearean play (he was King Henry IV, and I was Lady Percy) but we didn’t really notice each other until one day, for some reason, he began singing Lorne Elliott’s song, “The Smallest Thing Known To Man”. To his surprise, I joined in “blushing ever so cutely,” he said years later, “when you sang over the rude bits” . We had the joy of telling Lorne Elliott this in person a couple of weeks ago, when he came to Vancouver. Anyway, Future Husband thought about me occasionally over the next year – the cute girl he was in a play with- but I forgot about him until we found ourselves in Hamlet together the next year, and discovered a shared love of children’s fiction. The friendship formed quickly, and within a year he had become one of my best friends.
But I had a boyfriend. He had only recently ended his relationship with his last girlfriend. Romance was not on my mind, and if it was on his, he knew better than to try and do anything about it, because I belonged to someone else. “I wasn’t cutting anyone’s lunch”, is how he likes to explain it.
The years went by and we grew closer and closer. Now in full blown love, he was careful not to touch me accidentally, and avoided drinking around me because sometimes, when he was really intoxicated, he’d find his hand hovering over the small of my back. His friends kept pushing for me to give him a chance. “That man,” said one guy vehemently, pointing at him across the room, “is just dying to treat you like a queen.” Another time, when we both said the same thing at the same time, we heard “man, you guys should just go home and BOINK.”
To comments like that, I would simply say firmly that I was in another relationship, and leave it at that.
He watched silently as I struggled to hide my deteriorating relationship with my boyfriend from him. When he came to get me for a movie with friends and I shouted him away because I was fighting on my phone with my boyfriend, he went away quietly to the movie with our friends. But when I came down the street twenty minutes later, hoping to squeeze into the movie late, he was standing outside with an extra ticket for me. He didn’t say a word.
When I told him one night that I wouldn’t be calling him much for a while, that I would be dropping out of touch, he didn’t ask why, or beg me not to cut him out of my life. He told me later that he had long decided that I was the woman he was going to marry, and he knew it was just a matter of waiting patiently while I sorted things out.
When he heard through the grapevine that my relationship of five years had crashed and split apart, he called and asked if I was okay. He listened quietly, not pronouncing judgment on my ex or on me. Even then, he knew he would have to wait more, to give me time to heal. He was used to waiting. For four long years he had waited for me, longing for the day when he could finally feel free to tell me how much he loved me. Months later, when I went to visit him, the day he had waited so long for came sooner than he had ever expected.
All those years, he carried a torch for me.
But this week, he carried a torch for all of Canada.