Updated: Nov 28, 2019
I could hardly wait for the morning to arrive. When it did, it seemed I was awake much earlier than I had ever been before, and yet there was not a moment to waste.
I ran into my parent’s room calling for them to “Get up! Get up! We have to go soon!” It’s the only time I remember cascading into their room that way, with a rush of arms and legs moving wildly and my entire being an enthusiastic wave rising and falling about their twin beds.
“Get up! It’s almost time to go!”
My mother, whose bed was nearest the bedroom door, lifted her head from her pillow with a pained and attentive look, her face pale and concerned. Seeing my excitement seemed to tire her and relieve her at the same time, and she lay back down, rolling herself away from me. My father did not move.
Undeterred, I ran as fast as I could down the hallway to the kitchen, and once again opened the refrigerator door and checked that the small bouquets of flowers were still buoyant and alive. They were coming with us this morning and though I wasn’t sure which would be mine to hold, my eyes kept coming back to the brilliant pink, which lay in the middle between the other two. This would be mine to hold during the procession to the altar while the other two would go to other girls.
The night before I had placed the three bouquets carefully and gingerly on the coolest bottom shelf. I had visited them periodically throughout the night. I was delighted at how the glow of the refrigerator light seemed to make them shine with even more unearthly radiance. Though their color was unlike anything that might grow in nature, I thought they were the most beautiful flowers I’d ever seen. Small carnations tied into a tight bunch. One was bright yellow, another bright pink and the third a bright sky blue. They had a white doily around their stem, which fanned out about the bottom of the flowers. A white ribbon tied them at the end.
“Mom! Dad! Let’s go!” I called out again.
I turned and headed back down the hallway. I had just recently gotten my own room, having shared a room since birth with my two older brothers. Now I was 7 years old and my parents could afford to build an extra room on the house for my brothers, leaving their old room free just for me. My life was taking wonderful and expansive turns.
Dashing into my room, I flung open the closet door. I pulled out the small communion card we’d
been given as part of our preparations and read the rhyming prayer again.
You have come to my heart, dearest Jesus,
I am holding You close to my breast;
I'm telling You over and over,
You are welcome, Little White Guest.
The black type on white card stock and the black and white image of the Lord with his heart exposed in fire, shadowed only by the depth of his eyes, was in that moment my most precious possession. Soon I would be able to recite it as something real – the moment I lifted back my head with closed eyes and was given the flat, thin white wafer then walked with hands folded back to my pew. My replays of it in my imagination were alive with anticipation and meaning.
The small white dress with puffed sleeves, lace collar and a waistband which tied into a bow in the back hung there, separated from the every day clothes, the pedal pushers and simple, sleeveless tops my mom had made me. Next to the dress was a veil to match, made of scratchy gauze, which reached past my waist when I wore it. A headband to hold it in place was looped through a narrow lacy diadem. As much as I loved that veil, wearing it for any length of time was horridly painful. For despite my anticipation of the day’s event, the rehearsals, which required that I wear it, were a trial. The headband cut into my scalp and the back of my ears until I gave up devotion, and feeling tortured flung it off as soon as I was out of Sister Jean Clare’s sight and the rehearsal done.
However, this morning none of that mattered. Today I was meeting Jesus.