Last Sunday there was a First Communion during mass. The priest wanted to show the new communicant what a memorable day it would be for her so he asked the parish, “How many of you remember making your First Communion?”
Without exception everyone raised their hand.
I looked around the church, sunlight shining on warm golden pine pews; the same church where I made my First Communion….
It had been a beautiful spring day, sunny and warm enough to chase the chill but cool enough to make me glad that my legs were covered, even if they were covered in awful white stockings. I wore hand-me-down clothes from top to bottom. Hand-me-downs were not a problem but these particular garments were: the stupid white stockings with a seam in the toe and a binding waist that rolled on around my belly, the dumb white dress with scratchy lace sleeves, and the veil; the ornery veil with a pearl crucifix headband that slipped back and forth on my head as I walked.
I hated the veil, the dress, the stockings, the shoes, I hated just about everything and I hated that I had no revelation upon receiving Communion. Of course I had no revelation; I had a pearl crucifix headband falling to one side of my head.
When my First Communion mass ended I headed to the nearest exit. One of my brothers had beaten me to the door and in way of congratulations he smirked, “Nice dress, Mary.”
I ripped that tilting veil off my head and threw it at him. I bent over and pulled that penitential scratchy white dress off over my head, white buttons pelted him; the dress fell at his feet. I glared and then I ran.
By the time my parents had gotten to the door I was a good fifty yards from the church.
“Catch her!” they commanded.
Two of my brothers started to chase me but I had a head start and I was fueled by the fire of indignation as I ran over familiar cracks in the sidewalk until I reached our back door. To my glee I beat both my brothers home and was changed into my favorite striped sleeveless t-shirt and flowered capris before my parents and their guests arrived.