Carlo and the girls tried so hard to make things nice for me, but in a subdued way, knowing that I am in the Shloshim (30 day mourning period) and don't feel comfortable participating in any celebratory functions. I am not the most observant Jew but certain things just feel wrong, and to not observe the 30 days is one of them.
So we kept it quiet and simple for our anniversary. And it was lovely. For the first time in the 5 weeks since we were told Mama was terminal, and the 3 weeks since we lost her, I didn't feel lost in sadness.
Carlo made a reservation at our favourite restaurant from yesteryear, Vincent's Spot.
We always loved it there. Nothing has changed since it opened it's doors in 1977 and I'm so glad it hasn't.
The ambiance is a throwback to the 1950s, like walking into a scene from the Godfather, with music to match.
I was really pleased to discover they haven't changed their menu either. The food was always so delicious. You know how you can remember something being one way, only to revisit it years later and it doesn't measure up? Happily, this was not the case. Every dish was delish, and even better - the girls agreed.
Carlo used to take me to Vincent's when we were dating. It was our spot. The owner and his wife were so friendly and warm. I always got along with Helena. She would come and visit with us at our table during the meal...so homey. And when Carlo proposed, it was Vincent's Spot that he took me to for dinner first. So it seemed a natural choice to return there 20 years later. What I didn't expect was for Helena to remember us. But she did. She came to our table, took a long look at Carlo, then at me, and said "it's been a long time"...and that was it...we caught up on her growing family and ours, and she "welcome(d us) home". It was the nicest evening, and for an evening, the suffocating sorrow of the past month eased and I enjoyed myself.
Vincent's Spot is located in our old neighbourhood, where Carlo grew up, bought his first house, where we lived when we first got married, where Sara was born. It's a 45 minute drive from where we live now. We arrived extra early (allowing for rush hour and ParaPan Am games traffic) and were able to take the girls on a drive down memory lane - literally! We saw the house Carlo grew up in, the baseball diamonds he played at, and the schools he attended. We saw our little wartime house and the maple tree Carlo planted in the backyard when Sara was born...it's so big now! We pointed out the Tim Horton's we drove through on our way to the hospital when I was in labour with Sara. We drove by the "Kissing Bridge" on Woodrow Drive and all our old haunts from when we were dating, and I was just a little older than Sara is now. How time flies...
This anniversary is significant for me in many ways. It is a milestone, it is the first without my mother, and it is the last before Sara moves away to university. But beyond the fluff and romance, there is the strong bond and deep love that sustains us, and has kept me going through this incredibly difficult period in my life. Carlo has bolstered me in my darkest hours, letting me mourn without any judgment or interference, always there when I need him...my mother loved him and knew he would take care of me, and he does. The measure of a relationship or friendship is not how one treats you in the good times - that is easy...it's what they do in the worst moments, and Carlo has shown me that I really do have a knight in shining armour, mine just wears chinos instead. I love you Carlo. Happy Anniversary.