If a restaurant were to name something after you, what would it be? Describe it. (Bonus points if you give us a recipe!)
Photographers, artists, poets: show us DINNER.
“There she is!”
Whispers emanated from the small group of waitrons. She was totally unaware of this as she walked past them and smiled. They greeted her with enthusiastic waves and heart-warming smiles. Theresa, the newbie of the group, looked at her peers.
“What’s all the fuss about?” she asked, failing to understand the significance of this woman’s arrival. She clearly wasn’t just another patron, she’d figured. Her colleagues were far too excited about her. Most of the members of the group looked at her, surprised.
“That’s Megan Light,” Wanda, her mentor, informed her. “She’s a special part of this restaurant.”
“Why?” Theresa asked. She’d only been on the job for a couple of days. Stacey, a quirky blonde, pointed at a table in the corner.
“That’s where he proposed to her,” Stacey explained. “He had the ring come on a silver platter. It came as a ‘special dessert’. It was beautiful. She cried. He cried. She said yes. They received a standing ovation. They deserved it. It was just so beautiful.”
All the fuss because of the proposal? Theresa wondered. This restaurant was weirder than she’d thought.
“I’m guessing it’s their anniversary?” Theresa said. She tried her level best not to sound cynical. Wanda shook her head gravely. Melissa, a beautiful African girl, pointed at a table on the other side of the restaurant. It was a dimly lit area – reserved for intimate occasions –on the patron’s request, of course.
“He broke of the engagement there,” she spoke quietly. “We could feel the ominous vibes from the moment he walked in to meet with her. It was nothing dramatic. She cried quietly. They shared a sad farewell kiss and she left first. Before we could award him with “Loser of the Year”, we saw him cry as he watched her leave. We knew that there was more to his decision than he’d let on.”
Theresa felt her heart tighten. She didn’t like where the story was going. She could feel something painful coming along.
“What happened after that?” Theresa asked quietly. Her colleagues’ faces clouded over with sadness as they recalled the next event.
“They held his memorial dinner here,” Wanda spoke simply. Theresa’s eyes widened.
“Brain cancer,” Stacey wiped a tear away. “He passed on a couple of weeks after he broke off the engagement.”
Theresa felt emotion swell in her heart. She found it strange. She didn’t even know these people but there she was, feeling sorry for a woman she’d never met let alone spoken to ever. It puzzled her. She saw the understanding look on Melissa’s face.
“We felt the same way,” she replied. “We barely knew this couple but it honestly felt like we’d been part of their story. Her speech at the memorial dinner was beautiful. Loving.”
“When did it happen?” Theresa asked.
“Two years ago,” Wanda explained. “She comes here every week and sits at the table where he proposed to her. I asked her about that once.”
“What did she say?” Theresa asked, desperate to hear the answer.
“At first, she needed to be close to him,” Wanda said. “His proposal was the clearest memory she had of him at the time. As time went by, her answer changed. She said that this place had become a place of refuge for her. It still is. When she’s under pressure, she comes here. If she’s stuck, she comes here. When she’s going through something – good or bad – she’s here. She’s become a part of this place.”
Theresa nodded quietly.
“It’s her birthday today,” Melissa said.
“So we – everyone here – have done something for her,” Stacey was back to bouncing with excitement.
“What?” Theresa asked.
Suddenly, the lights went dim. Theresa found herself being shuffled to the kitchen entrance. She was confused. What was going on? Suddenly, the staff began to sing “Happy Birthday”. The chef held a giant cake as they walked towards Megan’s table. Tears were streaming down her glowing face. Theresa felt a lump in her throat.
Wanda stepped forward as the singing ended.
“We’ve decided to name a special dish in your honour,” Wanda smiled. One of the assistant chefs rushed forward and lifted the lid off of a plate. “The ‘Light Up’ Special Dessert.”
Megan’s eyes widened as she admired the apple crumble, covered in a layer of specially whipped cream and adorned with a number of glistening silver balls. With a flick of a lighter, two protruding chocolate-like sticks began to sparkle. The crowd watched in awe.
Megan was speechless as she looked at the wonderful staff. Theresa felt a couple of tears fall down her cheek. She didn’t care.
“Your fiancé, James, mentioned how you lit up his world,” Stacey gushed. “He said it as he left the restaurant the day you two er um –
“It’s okay to say that we broke up,” Megan smiled sadly. She had such a gentle voice, Theresa wondered.
“Well yes,” Stacey continued. “Your presence here has always lit us up too. And since it fits with your surname perfectly, we’ve decided to name this special dessert in your honour.”
Megan waited for the applause to die down before she began to speak.
“I think this dessert should be named in your honour just as much as it’s been named in mine,” she explained. “You have all served as bright, reassuring lights in my world. In my darkest times, I’d find peace here. Your wonderful smiles and beautiful personalities gave me hope when I’d lost all of mine. God bless you all.”
Theresa wasn’t surprised to find that she and Megan weren’t the only ones crying. She smiled through her tears.
She’d definitely been employed at the right place. How could she go wrong with all of these bright, shining lights around her?
It could never happen.
“When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself.