my mom and first communion

I miss my mom.

Like, really, really, REALLY miss her.

Of course, I think of her and miss her every day, but today it is different.

Today, Brian is making his First Holy Communion.

I have been looking forward to and dreading this day for weeks.

I have felt edgy and unfocused, my stomach has been tied up in knots.

This morning, I walked into our family room, just like I did on Emma and Kate’s first communion days. Only, unlike those mornings, this time, the room is empty.

Quiet.

Each of those mornings, when I went to sit in “my spot” on the sofa and turn on ABC news, my mom was already sitting in my spot, the television changed to NBC.

“Good morning, Baby,” she looked up at me and smiled. Her face had changed so much, the scleroderma had really taken its toll.

I said, “Good morning” back; however, I was not sincere. I was more annoyed that my morning ritual had been altered. I’d have to walk a whole two extra feet to sit down on the couch and listen to a different newscaster.

Why wasn’t I more focused on the journey she made to be here, in my family room, the day of our children’s special occasion? How difficult it was for her to pack for the trip? To make her way to the car? To sit in the car all of those hours from Chicago to Fairfield?

No. I was more worried about my morning routine being slightly changed and the day ahead.

I knew how sick she was…you could see how sick she was, how people looked at her when we pushed her into the church in the wheelchair. She was withering away, her face almost mask-like, her skin gray.

Somehow, it was easier for me to just revert back to my younger, adolescent jerk-self, when all I did was walk around with a gigantic chip on my shoulder and talk back to my mom, than it was to just sit with her.

It hurts to just sit…to just sit and be with the pain.

The morning after Kate’s first communion, when I scrolled through pictures, I realized with a panic that I deleted the only picture of my mom with Kate because I didn’t like the way I looked. We didn’t have a single picture with my mom and Kate in her dress.

“Kate, would you pleeeeease put your dress back on?” I pleaded.

Sitting at the bottom of the stairs, her arms folded across her chest, tears in her eyes, she cried, “Please don’t make me put that thing back on! I can’t stand that dress. Please! No!”

I tried reasoning with her, “We don’t know how much longer we have with Grandma. Please. She’s really sick. I don’t have any pictures of the two of you together in your dress. Please, honey. You can take it off right after the picture.”

Even as I said those words, I didn’t believe it…

My mom will always be here.

It was those words that convinced Kate, she said, “Okay” and walked up the stairs to change.

Minutes later, she walked into the family room in her crumpled dress and sat next to my mom. I grabbed the wilted floral headpiece and planted it on Kate’s head, her bedhead hair soft and curly around her face.

I snapped the picture.

image

Mom complained that she didn’t like the picture because her robe looked like a straight-jacket.

I posted it anyway.

A few hours later, my mom left.

As they pulled away from our house, her head barely clearing the passenger-side window, she locked eyes with me. I could see she was crying. I started crying too.

Did she know?

Did I know?

One month later, she was gone.

That was three years ago.

I am worried I will cry during mass this morning. The songs, all of those familiar songs, from my childhood are now a part of my own children’s history.

I used to get so annoyed with my mom at church. She sang louder than anyone. It wasn’t only that she was loud…it was also more like opera singing with a head-bob. It was seriously embarrassing.

She couldn’t sing toward the end because the disease started hardening her lungs…it was hard enough to just breathe.

I will take some deep breaths today and think of her.

I will stand behind our son as he receives this sacrament.

I believe.

Maybe I will sing really loudly this morning too.

I miss my mom.

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