My 7-year-old just celebrated her First Holy Communion. She chose to wear her sister’s communion dress and sweater. She looked beautiful almost angelic. There was something special about seeing her in her sister’s dress. Dressing her was a little foreshadowing of what her wedding day might be like and, of course, that coupled with the momentous occasion had me feeling a little emotional.
You know when they were newborns and I baptized them, I bought them each separate baptismal gowns. It felt like it had to be done, in case they had little girls someday that they wanted to pass their dresses on. I wanted them to have that but when we went to the bridal store and my 7-year-old picked out the exact same dress that I had bought for her sister 2 years ago it made no sense to buy the same dress twice. They both loved the idea.
You see they are best friends. The older one thrives on mothering her little sister and the little one loves to feel connected to and emulate her sister in every way. Sometimes I worry that this relationship is too close, too co-dependent but then I realize that when we are gone, they will only have one another and I want them to be more than sisters, I want them to be friends and more than that, I want them to realize that the love that they share is unconditional and the bond unbreakable.
Every time the girls have a milestone, I become a little nostalgic and a lot verklempt. You see, I only have two children. So every milestone is a first and the last, the alpha and omega of my parenting, if you will. This month just about breaks me every year because it is milestone on top of milestone constantly, not unlike my labors with those two girls. Parenting has become a whirlwind and I just want to hit the pause button, study their tiny faces, commit those tiny voices to memory and hug them for longer periods of time before they break free to find the next adventure with their friends.
Gabi’s communion fell on May 2nd, the day immediately after May 1st (my one day of the year of feeling sorry for myself). I was supposed to spend Friday alone feeling all the feels but instead I was running all over town preparing for a party. It felt surreal but it also didn’t feel right to spend the day mourning the dead when I had such a big celebration for the living to plan. It felt unfair but I pushed it down and carried on.
I know I lingered a little longer holding her in my arms that Saturday, wanting to cherish every moment of this last first communion and being painfully aware that it was the last. She was full of giggles and smiles and I met each and every one with my own. I was so proud of her. We took all the photos to commemorate the day and we headed home to celebrate her first communion and the Big Guy’s 40th birthday.
Yep, God’s great plan included me celebrating all weekend long. Maybe he was trying to get me out of my funk. My husband stayed home Friday too under the guise of helping me run errands for the party but really, I think part of him wanted to make sure that I didn’t sink too far down the rabbit hole of sadness. He handled me with such sensitivity and love, it was hard to feel sorry for myself when I am blessed with him I my life. I’m glad he did because my entire weekend was full of love, family and celebration like a rainbow after a storm. I needed that.
At the end of the night, I hung that communion dress up and put it away for the last time. It will not be worn again by one of my children but maybe someday it will be worn by one of my granddaughters and that makes my heart happier than I thought was possible. Hope is what all of those tiny white dresses represent for me now; the baptismal gowns that I christened my daughters in, the beautiful communion gown they shared and my wedding dress pressed, cleaned and tidy in their boxes just waiting to make more memories.