With our daughter out of town visiting her grandma for three weeks, my husband and I have a rare amount of kid-free time that we can spend together. This past Father’s Day was one such day. I decided to treat him to a nice dinner out, just the two of us, at an upscale steakhouse in our new home of Charlotte, North Carolina.
We fixed ourselves up, I put on some sexy purple suede wedges, and the two of us embarked upon the restaurant with steaks and martinis on our minds.
When we got to the restaurant, we were escorted downstairs to a dining room that shared a wall with an expansive wine cellar. It was dimly lit, romantic, and perfect for a night out together. We chatted and ordered cocktails and delicious appetizers of Burrata Cheese with Heirloom Tomatoes and bowls of creamy Lobster Bisque.
As we finished the first course, and waited for our main entrees to arrive, I noticed some people walking through the wine cellar. There was thick plated glass separating our table from the interior of the cellar, and at first glance I assumed the people inside were members of the wait staff or perhaps a sommelier walking through the rows of bottles. However, something caught my eye and forced me to take a second look.
Leading the tour of the cellar was a woman with short blonde hair. In one hand she held a glass of red wine, and in the other she held the hand of a rather fascinated young woman who looked to be about 20 years of age. My breath caught.
While at first glance this young woman seemed just as if any other young woman, there was something about her that I recognized immediately. Her glasses framed curious eyes, and her blonde hair was cut into a cute bob complete with a fringe of bangs. Her smile was playful, and shy. She alternated between looking to the woman whose hand she held, and observing the stacks of wine bottles that now surrounded her. The hand that wasn’t being held was affixed next to her mouth.
I was staring. I was smiling. I didn’t know them personally, but I recognized them both.
The woman who was leading the young girl through the cellar caught me staring. At first, I could tell that she wanted to give me a ‘mind your own business’ look for staring so intently at her companion. But with a smile on my face, I waved exuberantly at the young woman. She was too shy at first to wave back, but with some prompting from the woman who was leading her (who I assumed to be her mother), she waved back. She was smiling. She was having a great time exploring a new place.
While I didn’t know them personally, I did recognize them, because I saw myself and my daughter in them. The mother guiding her daughter carefully and cautiously by the hand, showing her a brand-new atmosphere. The daughter, shyly and curiously taking all of these new sights in. I waved because I wanted them to know that I recognized them. That what I’d just witnessed caused a spring of tears to form in my eyes (then and also now as I write this). I wanted them to not feel odd about their walk or about the hand holding—but I wanted them to feel confident in having done so, and safe that I was not staring out of ridicule.
This mother had no way of knowing that I too have a daughter with special needs. To her, I was just a woman, (albeit perhaps a crazy woman) having dinner and waving.
I am not sure if that woman will ever read this story, but if she does there is something I want her to know…That moment that we shared—the little wave and shy smiles that I got in return from your daughter, it warmed my heart. I hope I never forget the look on her face as she walked through that wine cellar, as I could see the magic in that moment. I hope you saw it too.
I know we get so caught up being responsible for so many things, but seeing your interaction reminded me of something. That it’s so important to take the time to walk through the cellar, wherever or whatever that might mean; to allow for experiences to happen. It also taught me that sometimes when people are staring; it’s because they are possibly seeing reflections of themselves—particularly if they’re offering a smile and a goofy wave.
Its little interactions like this that makes the tasks we do every day as human beings a bit more bearable. I wish more people saw reflections of themselves in others. If only small gestures, such as a smile or a wave were given, it would alleviate so much stress.
Connecting with others in a positive way matters.
Every person matters.