Yesterday, we celebrated the 40th anniversary of my parents with a dinner surrounded by their closest family and friends.

The dinner was held at a local Italian restaurant, Aldo’s II. In this room, we celebrated many happy occasions. From special birthday’s to a Sunday dinner, we spent many hours around one of the dozen tables in this  stereotypical, but unique Queens establishment.

There was a few minutes in the midst of the afternoon when I took my 1-year old daughter, and we walked around the  restaurant. We moved into the adjacent pizzeria, and then outside on the corner. I whispered in her ear some moments from past days. I reflected on the friends who I grabbed a slice with, or the many Christmas Eve’s when my dad and I picked up trays of food to feed our family.

Sure the food was great at times, but it was the people that I shared life with that tugged at my heart on this Sunday afternoon.

I also thought of those who would not walk into the restaurant. I remembered those loved ones whom we once shared wine, meal, and friendship. I recalled their smiles, their laughter, their love. I miss it. I miss them.

I thought of my aunt who would have loved to see my parents celebrate 40 years. I reflected on my grandparents, three of whom have passed.

In looking around the room, I saw the eyes of my aunts and uncles. Those eyes were once younger when they saw my parents fall in love. Through the years, they shared life together. In this restaurant, they mourned together following funerals. They shared over drinks the moments of joy, the real ones. Those of new life, a clean bill of health, and anniversaries.

These four walls were a space, a welcoming home where for a few minutes, I was lost in time. I see my aunt giving kisses, my grandma ordering tripe, and the former owner sharing his hopes for a different future.

There will surely be many places I will look back on at later in life where I will yearn for one more visit. Not this place. For some time, I  appreciated its heartfelt place in my life. It was a backdrop to many relationships. And while I wish some were there yesterday, I am sure grateful for all who were present.

You see, there will come a day when I glance through the photographs and my memories, and those who celebrated this great day will no longer be a phone call away. It was not just a trip down memory lane, it was a desperate attempt to cherish every moment while it lasted.

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