Thursday, February 26, 2009

Stalking on Valentine's Day

The Tank took me to a romantic Sunday brunch for Valentine's Day (hey, you gotta take what you can get when you need a babysitter). We traveled 45 minutes to an old Amish farmhouse that had been converted into a magnificent inn known for its weekend brunch menu. It was the first visit for both of us and I was excited to be on a date with my husband. No sooner were we seated at our cozy table by the window smelling drool-inducing homebaked muffins then The Tank told me to look over my left shoulder. I tried to be discreet and sneak a peek in the direction of his gaze. Lo and behold, there was a couple with their 20-something son dining together, talking about their recently-consumed food and obviously enjoying their time together. The son had Down syndrome.

I don't know why I become a stalker in these situations. Honestly with Caden being 3 1/2 you'd think I'd have grown out of this by now. But suddenly I couldn't focus on the menu or even on The Tank. I was obsessed with eavesdropping on this party's conversation and trying to spy on the young man's every move. I pictured that table as our little family in 20 years and that young man as my grown-up son.

We had just placed our orders with the waitress when the table of my obsession stood to leave. The mother left first while the father finished signing the credit card slip. The son turned to a somewhat surprised neighboring table and introduced himself. I hoped he'd approach us next but then the father had finished the bill and they both left the room. I was overcome with a desire to bolt to the window and watch them get in their car and drive away. I don't understand why and I don't know what I expected to see. But I managed to stay seated and eventually concentrate on our romantic morning get-away.

After our meal, I truly desired a yummy-sweet dessert. It was Valentine's Day after all but I had not planned properly. There was no room left in my stomach. I suggested to The Tank that we head home and maybe after that 45 minute drive had passed, we would be ready for dessert.

And so we were. We went to the best dessert-serving restaurant in town. I hadn't even removed my coat before I spotted the occupants of the booth two spots behind us: a couple with their 20-something daughter with Down syndrome. What is going on here? What are the odds? This time I was the one telling my husband to look over his shoulder.

They were preparing to leave. The father had given his daughter a beautiful bouquet and she carefully repackaged it to carry outside. As they left the building, she lovingly looped her arm through his. He patted her hand in acknowledgement and they both beamed happiness. And oh no, now I was crying. I felt guilty that we had left Caden with a sitter when these parents were so clearly relishing the time with their adult children.

We ordered our desserts and coffee while again I felt that we had been witnessing our future selves on Valentine's Day 2029. I couldn't wait to get home and hug my boy.There was no music playing in the restaurant but I could not shake a Bob Marley tune from my head: Don't worry about a thing, cause every little thing gonna be alright..


Hilary Juel Afshary said...

Great story Jessica. It brought tears to my eyes!

Kristi Mantoni said...

Ditto to what Hilary said!

Jessica said...

Thanks guys!