First of all, I want to say a belated thank you to all who have served or are serving the citizens of our wonderful country.
So, it’s Veterans Day. I have such a wonderful feeling today with the cool air upon us… snow is in the forecast. The arctic blast just made my symptoms relax and I feel very comfortable today-happy in fact. I spent yesterday preparing for the cold weather by covering the water spickets, putting the non-slip rugs down outside, changing the smoke detector batteries, replacing the heater’s filter… Etc. So today, the plan is to relax.
Remember when you were in school and you actually read the assignment and you actually did the required questionnaire? Remember how good you felt when you got to school and knew you did your homework? There was no fear? That’s how I feel today having done all the winter’s to-do lists (that I can do anyway). Now it’s time to relax, drink too much coffee in the comfort of my own home, and take naps just because. I ate lunch late so now it’s time for a late dinner. I’m still feeling so happy and want to be amongst people. I never go out after dark as I don’t feel it’s safe for me should anything happen to the car. However, today is truly different-I am beaming with happiness. What’s a person to do? I start to conger the options.
I’ve never done this before but I’m thinking, it’s Veterans Day (observed) and so many go to a national buffet on this day, I think mostly to meet and greet and unfortunately some need a free meal. It’s dark outside and I go against my principles and head there. I’m in such a rare mood.
I drive close by and see the parking lot is full. It actually makes me happy to know that people are getting their fellow companionship we all enjoy. However, it’s too cold for me to stand outside in a line. I press on undeterred knowing I will stop somewhere and enjoy my rare evening out. It’s been way too many years since my symptoms stopped me from venturing out and dining alone. There will be no such speed bump tonight. Ah, I’ll stop over there at Sante Fe’s (a great steakhouse restaurant).
Not a lot of people there tonight-in fact I’m the only one in this area so far. I get seated at the Single and alone area but I’m fine with that. Megan is my waitress and she’s perfectly pleasant and personable. After getting my drink order (root beer- a mood celebratory drink since I don’t drink soda anymore), we began to talk about the menu and it’s options. Nothing quite suits but she’s very accommodating and says they will make what I want. So it’s a salad- very similar to a Cobb salad. I am splurging and add a small order of their phenomenal fries. She puts the order in and I realize quite suddenly where I’m at. Megan comes back and I began to explain.
This is the last place I ate on my last day of work before I was ultimately disability retired. I wrote about this in my first story on MSWorld “Oh Yeah? Take THAT!!!!”. In that story, I explained how bad my symptoms were accumulating and how I could not even pick up my silverware and wound up covered in my food. This is the same place a few years later! Adding to the irony of the location is that I am one booth away from that symptomatic finality of my career. However, it is not a bad feeling, it’s an epiphany of where I’m Not symptomatically. However, to be safe, I unwrap the napkin to inspect the silverware. Whew, they have changed their silverware to a less not bulky style- I am relieved.
So, I’m explaining to Megan having already told her that I was disability retired, that I have not gone out to eat alone in a restaurant since that very day. The irony of the situation does not escape me. I think God is showing me the Then-and-Now of his daily blessings. I thought I was glowing before I left my house but now I know I am beaming!
By now several people have come into the restaurant and there’s an older single man seated in the row I’m in. There’s a couple by the windows and probably wondering why I took a picture of my food (which I never do). A group of millennials are to my left and I am in full view of them. I’m sure they’re wondering why I am smiling all by myself. I am completely and totally present in front of this wonderful array of food provided the exact way I requested it (a side of guacamole, a side of fries, romaine lettuce please, a side of warm corn kernels and no bread, thank you for asking Megan. Yes! I am able to eat with the silverware, able to pick up my root beer glass and drink of it, able to crack open the peanuts, and certainly loving this long-missed experience. I’m present and perfectly aware of the exceptional joy of tonight.
The bill comes and Megan’s no-doubt been explaining my story with the manager and states he’s cut my bill in half. I definitely don’t like to get anything I haven’t paid for but the gesture’s beautiful and very appreciated. I pay the bill in full but leave Megan more than double in the form of a tip. Her pleasantries added to my out-in-the-dark, long time coming dinning experience. A simple series of jesters and circumstances have filled my bank of joy. I’m sure the bank’s coffers will remain full for a long time and I won’t forget the MS symptoms comparison lessons for a long time. I will revisit this experience periodically because it paid exponentially to my joy of life. What an incredibly different story the same restaurant, the same room, and two different circumstances have taught me. It was such a beautiful evening and I am still smiling ear to ear days later.
So, my lesson for the reading audience is that bad times can absolutely be overcome with time and good things. So be brave and try to recognize all the tiny positives you’ve had. Collectively, they add up to so much.