Sometimes in life you meet someone and know it was perhaps a chance meeting but it leaves an indelible mark on your life. Such was the case with our dinner partners on our recent cruise. What started out as a meeting of strangers grew into a quick close friendship that we will be bonded forever in a very special way.
Dinner time seems to be one of the highlights of any cruise. Everyone seems to dress well, especially on the formal nights, which on our cruise was two evenings. The waiters are so service minded, they literally place dinner napkins on the lap of everyone seated for the meal. The service received is beyond compare anywhere frankly.
Since we were traveling alone, we were anxious to see who we would seated at our table. We wondered how many would there be, would it be people that we would have anything in common with, couples or families, etc. Much to our delight, on the first night, we discovered it was a table for four and the other couple had the same questions we had, reservations about who they would be seated with at meals.
Quickly conversation ensued between us after they arrived and sat down on the first night. Each evening, thereafter, we found ourselves looking forward to dinnertime. We discovered our rooms were literally a few doors down from each other. Thus, over the seven days, we began seeing each other over other meals and running into each other off and on. We even went on an excursion together and shopping in a port also. Sharing stories of our lives during this together time was a wonderful part of our vacation with both of them.
Len and Sylvia had been dating for a few years. Sylvia had met Len not long after her husband had died in the line of a duty. Tony, her deceased husband, was a police officer who worked undercover often. He was recognized one day on a motorcycle and killed, ran over by one of the drug rings he had busted. Sylvia had been devastated but known his occupation put him at high risk. Her children helped her move on and that, combined with her job, and her circle of friends was a major step in recovering from the loss of her beloved husband.
She met Len partially because they had so many shared interests and had mutual friends. Dating seemed to naturally evolve and progressed into traveling together as they both shared a passion for that as well. Over time, they became familiar with each other’s grown children and life’s stories. Len was a retired police officer who had moved into detective work and worked high level assignments prior to retiring from the force. This background really aided his understanding in Sylvia’s sense of loss over her husband. Their relationship was very cozy, fun and they were just easy to be around. Both are good people, kind-hearted and interesting lives.
Over our time spent together, we all four shared so many stories of our experiences over the years as we were all close in age. Sylvia, like me, was a cancer survivor. After losing her husband and then, soon after starting her relationship with Len, she had been diagnosed with cancer. Thus, she began aggressive treatment. Both of them had their share of hardships in life as most of us have as we have lived our lives. The longer you live, the more experiences you garnish, some good, some bad but all stepping stones to who we become as we age.
Two days before the cruise was over, Len asked us to join them for a special dinner the last night of the cruise at an exclusive restaurant on the ship. That night, dinner was outstanding and at the conclusion, a magician came to our table. He put down a small black box and said he wanted to show us a magic trick. He then lifted the lid to show a numbered die and so, the trick proceeded from there.
At the conclusion of this magic trick with the box, which he had used Len as the participant; we all were amazed at the trickery! When he left the table, Len made a surprise announcement to us. He told us that he also performed magic tricks on occasion. He asked Sylvia to affirm this which she readily did with a head nod. Then he told us he was going to perform one right there on the spot.
He turned to Sylvia and told her she had never seen this one yet. He said he was saving this for a special night. He went on to say that with new friends they both were so fond of; it seemed a perfect setting to show it. He pulled out a black box, and said that before he would make anything disappear, he wanted to let her see what was in it. With that, he bent on one knee beside Sylvia, where he was seated, opened the box and we all gasped. There was a breath-taking sparkling diamond engagement ring!
Yes, it was magical! Sylvia began to cry. Len told her that he loved her so much and wanted to marry her. He said it was important to him that he do it in a special way that was magical and with special witnesses that she would always remember.
We were speechless. Waitresses came up with champagne glasses as Sylvia pulled the ring out of the box and kissed Len saying yes through tears! He looked at us asking us how we liked his magic trick. Pretty impressive I think one of us uttered.
Sometimes on a vacation you meet strangers and experience life changing moments that you will never forget. Our trip was one of them. As we told both of them that night, we were honored to be a part of their story! And we will never ever worry again about who we might meet at dinner. Sylvia and Len were the best part of the meal and they weren’t listed on the menu!
God Bless their future nuptials!