My “Afterlife” Series ~ Sunshine and Cupcakes
By Susan Keats, Contributor & Seize-the-Day Propagandist
I want to share this story because it is true and I think it is a beautiful story on many levels. It also helps to explain another reason why your small gifts or moments of kindness can be so meaningful.
I was still undergoing chemo, but with my family’s blessing, I took the opportunity during my good week to fly to Maine, which is one of my favorite places on earth.
On this particular trip I stayed in a small town called Wiscasset. There is a bakery there by the name of “Treats” which makes home baked goods. This cozy shop isn’t the kind of bakery that displays sheets of identical cookies or cakes. No, this shop bakes different things each day and you never know what you will find. There might be only 12 cookies of one kind, and only 12 of another. There might be only 2 kinds of pie. On a chilly Maine afternoon there is Mac and Cheese if you need comfort food, freshly baked bread, hot cocoa and a long rustic wooden table where you can eat and eat and get warm. They also make my favorite health food: Cupcakes.
I was in Maine to feed my soul. Maine is my happy place. I love the crashing waves on the coast and the simplicity of a life that is outdoorsy and beautiful. I wanted to go to Pemaquid Point, which is a lighthouse sitting on a dramatic rocky shore. My plan was simply to sit on the rocks and feel the power of the ocean and just think. I couldn’t wait to be there. I knew that somehow there would be magic for me there and whatever happened in my future, a few good hours on the rocks of Pemaquid would help me to feel strong and ready to weather a storm.
I arrived in Wiscasset at dusk and planned to head to Pemaquid straight away the next morning. Then I spotted Treats and was drawn inside by the warmth of the shop to see what I might find that was delicious. Behind the counter the shop owner was chatting with a customer about the weather. A big storm was coming and it was supposed to rain very hard most of the entire next day. I was so disappointed! So much for spending my day at Pemaquid.
I inserted myself into the conversation. “No! It can’t rain!” I said. “I’m on vacation and I ordered only sunshine!”
The woman behind the counter smiled at me and said, “Well then, you should get your sunshine! Tomorrowis supposed to be sunny in the morning, just for you.”
“Oh, well THAT’S a nice thought!” I said. It really was a nice thought. Then, turning my renewed hopes to my favorite treats, I asked, “Will you have any cupcakes tomorrow?”
“Would you like cupcakes?” the owner asked.
Suddenly I felt a little sheepish. I was pretty sure they already had their baking planned for the next day. They wouldn’t make cupcakes for ME. That’s just not how people do business.
“Well,” I smiled, “only if you’re making them…”
“What kind do you like?” she asked
“Oh…ANY cupcake is a GOOD cupcake!” I meant that too. Don’t you feel the same way? I also didn’t want to impose.
“Well, let me make a note for the baker” she said. “I’ll tell her a customer was interested in cupcakes.”
I had to laugh. I knew they weren’t going to make cupcakes just because I had suggested it. I brushed off the notion.
“Well then,” I said, “tomorrow will be a perfect day! Sunshine AND cupcakes!”
I bought a blueberry muffin, thanked them and headed to my little Bed and Breakfast. I read my book and didn’t think much more about anything other than the pleasure of being alone, relaxing and feeling pretty happy that I was in Maine.
The next day the air was moody. It wasn’t raining yet, but the sky was dark and looked as if it would let loose on the world at any moment. Maybe I could get to Pemaquid before the rain, but it looked doubtful. Then I thought I had better stop by the bakery and grab a muffin or something for the road.
When I walked in, there on the counter was a small stack of yellow cupcakes and in front of them was a little hand written sign identifying what they were.
“SUNSHINE CUPCAKES” the sign read.
They were lemon.
I’ve never quite experienced a moment of happiness as profound as that one tiny moment when my heart jumped into my throat and my smile grew bigger than the sun.
(And it rained the whole day)
Susan Keats ~ In 2010 Susan received life-changing news after a routine mammogram. She had breast cancer. After plenty of tears, anxiety and soul searching, she finished treatments and is now entering a year of renewal, growth, and recovery. Susan hopes that those who are just stepping into the experience of illnesses or crises will find the same comfort and inspiration that she felt when others shared their experiences and wisdom with her. She is looking forward to rediscovering parts of herself that she had allowed to fall away. This is going to be a great year!