This article was written for Annabel & Grace, which is now part of Rest Less.
Yesterday was one of those busy days where I had, in all honesty, overbooked myself. Getting up early, I had to persuade a somewhat grumpy Arthur to ‘rise and shine’ when he was fully aware that it was an hour earlier than usual. In point of fact, he’s always been the same and it is somewhat like living with a truculent teenager when it comes to getting up. Ila has always been like me. Once awake, I’m instantly with it, having no difficulty getting straight up to greet the day, Ila, tail wagging by my side. On the other hand, if my neighbours didn’t know me, they’d think I had a sleepy adolescent upstairs as I stand at the bottom of the stairs, returning time and time again to shout:
“Arthur, time to get up……Arthur, come on…………Arthur, don’t make me come upstairs to get you!”
Nine times out of ten, I would get halfway up the stairs before a sleepy-eyed Shiba appeared on the top landing and these days, I daren’t come down without him, or he’ll just roll over, legs in the air and go back to sleep.
Once we’d had breakfast and I’d walked him it was off to the first appointment, and this was how it was all day until about 4.30 pm when my friend and I, having just left Weymouth Hospital, decided to go for a coffee and something to eat, the first time we’d stopped since 9 am that morning.
Not really one for fast food restaurants, with all the coffee shops closing, it was about making the best of it, and we drove to the Burger King in Chickerell. Having made our choices we were served by a very polite, conscientious young man who saw that we had sat down, brought our meals to the table.
I was on a bench seat facing the counter and door, my friend opposite me, and we were chatting between mouthfuls. Always aware of my surroundings, I noticed a young girl in her late teens coming across the car park towards the restaurant, but what struck me about her was her beaming smile. Pretty, in an overlarge jacket and black beanie, she got right up to the doors before the young man serving a couple at the counter, spotted her. In a heartbeat, he dropped what he was doing, ran around the counter and raced towards her, catching her as she came through the automatic doors.
It was as if everything just stopped, the tick of the clock vanished, people froze mid-step, arm outstretched, breath almost exhaled, simply froze in the air, halted in its tracks as he reached her, picked her up and swung her around, her head bent towards his, her hair falling in his face. As her feet came back down to earth, all colour in this place drained away, like water down a plug, shades of grey swirling around, creating a monochrome whirlpool with only them at its centre, the only bright spot of colour. Her feet on the ground, she lent her full body into him, burying her face in his neck, arms locked around him as everything simply melted away and disappeared. They held each other so tightly, his arms wrapped around her, one hand cradling her neck, his eyes shut as he buried his face into her hair, kissing her head over and over, and they stood there, clinging on. Stood together in that embrace where the rest of the world simply did not exist; me, my friend, his customers at the counter, and other diners….all utterly insignificant as they held each other as tightly as they could, prolonging the sensation.
As I watched, my heart literally sang, calling out to me as I was filled with emotion, the smile on my face uncontrollable as I felt tears fill my eyes, silence becoming audible in my ears. Their joy, their deep-felt emotion, was completely infectious as it welled up inside me. Those stolen seconds where literally nobody and nothing else mattered were perfectly beautiful, entirely sublime. Gradually the sound of chatter and the noise of clanking from the kitchens slipped back into focus, they slowly parted, and I heard my friend say something. Both were laughing gently now, looking at each other as the young man bent forward to kiss her lightly on the lips, holding her face in both hands. Facing each other he called something over her shoulder to the other guys in the kitchen, apologised to the couple who he had abandoned with a sheepish grin and, wrapping his arm around her, took her outside the restaurant, where I watched them disappear across the car park, her face lifted to his.
My friend, who had her back to the whole thing, saw nothing, and I was left struggling to explain the profound effect of what I had just witnessed. Their joy was palpable and contagious. I felt like that moment had been touched by God, a reminder to us all of the beauty that still exists in the world. I came home distant and thoughtful, so moved by what I had seen and experienced that once I had greeted my two beasties and given them a cuddle, I felt compelled to write it down, while the warm fuzzy feeling that infused my veins still existed. Once done, I closed my computer and, glancing down noticed Arthur staring at me, head lightly cocked on one side, and I swear, I heard it, as clear as anything: “You old romantic you!” before he turned away, signalling that as far as he was concerned, it was time for bed.