On the morning of Sunday May 3rd, YaYa's 1st Communion day, she had to be in church by 9:45. Lisa dispatched me to take her, while she followed later after picking up her friend Chris and her family.
I'll be honest: I was a nervous wreck. I sat and held seats in what turned out to be a reserved pew. By the time I discovered this the church was filling up and I was forced to move to seats in a side aisle. I thought this was the end of the world, but in truth it placed me and the family mere feet to the right of YaYa, with a perfect view of the proceedings.
Then there was the group photo.
As the kids lined up for it I thought YaYa's hair looked out of place. And then I was sure I was wrong. No, it was out of place. Or not. I was so rattled I tried scanning through the pictures on the camera to see if her hair matched what it looked like at home . . . and the photographer snapped the shot.
[When the official shot was taken I had the oddest feeling. I could see an elderly YaYa holding a copy of that very picture in her hands. I mean I could see her there, in my minds eye, talking to her grandkids, and for a moment the whole scene in the church held great importance. It was very nearly a feeling of deja vu, a sense that this had all been done before and I was nothing more than someone's recollection. I don't care what you think of it - it felt real, even if it was all in my head.]
Soon enough it was time to line up in the back of church. "Where's Mom?" YaYa asked. "Don't worry, she'll be here," I said, and meant it. But minutes passed, and the teacher came to me and said we had four minutes before we headed down the aisle. I'd like to say Lisa got there merely in the nick of time - and she would have, had the four minute estimate been right - but it wound up being another six or seven minute wait.
And then we marched her down the aisle, and if you think I didn't feel my heart stop, knowing I'd someday march her down the aisle again, you're nuts.
I'm afraid there's not many pictures of the church ceremony, as pictures were forbidden. We're lucky to have the ones we do, and I thank everyone for snapping away when they had the chance.
YaYa was chosen to take part in bringing up the gifts. I was very proud to see her bring forth the Communion wafers, which was a great honor.
When the moment came - THE moment - it carried with it that historical oddity that was the Swine Flu. For all her worry about the taste of the wine, and the 7 year old courage she summoned up to go through with it, on the day of the Communion the church followed the state's recommendation and skipped the Communion Wine.
I still can't believe it - First Communion without the wine. As I said before, it's not only a a blow to the sacrament, but to the ambiance and spectacle that is so central to that day. But honestly it didn't seem to matter. We watched YaYa receive the Eucharist, turn to head back to her pew with a huge smile on her face, and the next few moments were lost to tears.
Yeah, that's right. I didn't cry when the kids were born. I didn't cry at my wedding. I allowed myself to cry for my Grandma's death one time, for one minute, and no longer. It is my one overwhelming, irrational concession to machismo: a man does not cry.
And yet I teared up freely at that moment. I was just so overwhelmed, not by the day itself, but by the fact that my little girl is growing up so fast, so very very fast.
Anyhow, Fr. Spitz kept the Mass humming along, and even with the renewal of the Baptismal vows and all the ceremony it still came in at only around an hour. Pictures and a party awaited!
~ to be continued ~