Capturing Mickey

As we ventured past the ticketing gate of Disney World, on our final night there, Beatrix turned around in her stroller and asked, “Can I see Mickey? I haven’t seen him yet.”

It was true. During our five day stay, we had seen every available Princess. We had seen a lot of the other characters. We had even seen Mickey’s girlfriend Minnie. But we had not yet seen the main mouse himself.

Our original mission for the evening was to see the illuminated parade and the multimedia fireworks extravaganza (trust me, this is the only way to describe it). It was clear that prime viewing spots were filling up fast. But, as doting parents to a lovely five year old, our primary mission was now changed by this simple request. We rushed to find a spot along the parade route and, with Bethany holding our place, Beatrix and I went off to the Mickey meet and greet.

The line was remarkably short. Only about a five minute wait. Other such previous characters had wait times far longer. Everyone must have been focused on the pending parade. We were whisked right in to the front of the line.

Her turn to meet Mickey came. She had an autograph book in which she had been collecting signatures of all of the characters she met. She handed it and a red Sharpie pen to him at which point he saw the cover. It was a picture of his girlfriend, Minnie Mouse. He acted out a blush and pointed to the wall where a portrait of Minnie was hanging. The cast member helping out in Mickey’s room explained to us that he had not seen her all day and missed her very much. He kissed the book cover, signed it, handed it back to Beatrix, then he posed with her while I busily snapped a few shots with my camera as was the now standard practice. Then, I gestured that I had gotten my shot at which point the posing was done. I put my camera away.

After that, something unexpected happened. Mickey got down on one knee and pointed at a button on Beatrix’s dress that indicated it was her birthday. He took her hand, kissed it, then grabbed the other and pulled her near, leaning his face in close to hers. She kissed him sweetly on the nose. They gave each other a nice long hug and he waved her off goodbye.

As we left, I was particularly touched by the sweetness of the moment. A thought passed through my mind. The thought that I wished I had caught that last bit with the camera.

But then, on second thought, I was glad that I hadn’t. I’m glad that I was fully present to witness the joy of the moment that made my little girl’s birthday so special. To see it and remember it through my eyes and not a camera’s lens. A photograph may be able to capture a moment. But, a photograph can never capture a memory.