Saturday I was under a cloud. There were small reasons for this, like when I was planning my meals for the week I realized that I was hosting the Easter meal, then had two birthdays (Sophia and Clay), and then had to write a biography for my grandmother before flying out to California for her funeral on Thursday. And then I had a minor mental breakdown, because SERIOUSLY?
By the way, my grandmother died. It was February 19, the night before we buried Eva. It was so fast that at the luncheon after Eva's funeral, I asked Mom, "Hey, how's Grandma doing today?" And she looked stricken and, because she does not lie to me, she said, "She...died last night." And I cocked my head at her, and the wheels in my head spun for a moment, and then I took that information and boxed it up and there it stays. She was Vivian, my dad's mom. And her mother was named Eva. Anyhow. It's all boxed up right now, you see? So I couldn't possibly talk about her.
So anyhow, after my little (super helpful) breakdown, I took off into my day, trying to get all the groceries bought and errands run and a quick run through the gym because the only thing heavier than my actual weight is the load of self-loathing I carry about my actual weight. And I had to buy a new dress, in a shockingly large size, or wear my bathrobe to the Easter vigil that night.
And that really was the reason I was so heavy with sadness, that service, that night. The boys were being received into the church, and I wasn't. It's my marriage, still not blessed, because Clay's annulment hasn't come through yet (ohpleaseohplease). So until that's taken care of, I can't take the final step. I'm not in yet.
It's...what? Funny? Humbling is probably more like it. For years I've stood apart from the Catholic Church and sniffed at it. You can't have me. I know better. And now, here I am, with my nose pressed to the glass, and I want nothing more.
A few weeks ago I sat in the last RCIA class, the course of study you go through to join the church. They were discussing all the details of the services that would bring everyone into the church. I sat there, trying to be grown up about it, because despite how I tell the story, not everything is actually about me. But across the room was a woman with her newly-walking baby girl, and I could not stop watching her lurch across the floor, and suddenly I was awash in longing for things I cannot have. For full communion in my church, for a bright eyed baby girl, for a full, deep breath, for my life to feel like home again.
I mostly hid in the bathroom for the rest of that class, but whatever. I couldn't exactly hide in the bathroom that night, while my sons became Catholic.
A quick aside here: people have asked me if it's hard to have my sons become Catholic when I can't. No, no, that's not what I'm saying. I am grateful that the Church, in her wisdom, does not hold the messes in my and Clay's life against our children. They are completely their own people, and I am so glad that the graces of full communion are available to them. And I'm not saying that I resent this holdup for me, either. If you're not ready to submit to the authority of the Church, well then, I wouldn't think it would be all that hard to have to wait. It's a whole package deal, isn't it?
Anyhow, that's where I was for most of Saturday. Anxious and sad (and fat) and stressed. I didn't want to cry through this very important event in the boys' life. I wanted to be there, I HAD to be there, and yet I wasn't sure how good of a job I could do at being there.
The service started at eight, in darkness. We filed in, carrying candles. There were Bible readings, outlining the story of salvation, and moments of total darkness, save for the light of the Christ candle. Then the people who were being baptized were brought forward. I watched them file by, the adults all people I have come to know over the last eight months. When they leaned over the baptismal font and offered themselves up to the death and rebirth that baptism is, I found myself only able to smile and sing along. It is so beautiful, all of it, the water and the oil and the words. All of it, so ancient and beautiful and true. My sons stood in front of the church and declared their belief in firm voices and were marked as God's own and called by the names of their patron saints, St. Michael the Archangel, St. Frances, St. Anthony. Oh yes, please. Please pray for them.
After the baptisms the priest took a bowl of the water from the baptismal font. He believes - strongly - in really using the holy water and anointing oil. I mean really using it. After he anoints someone with oil, they glisten. He took a pine branch and dipped it in the water and then flung the water at the congregation. Because we were standing directly in front of him, Clay and I got drenched. Like, water was dripping off our chins and I was glad I wasn't wearing a white shirt. DRENCHED.
We laughed and looked at each other. Life can be surprisingly harsh sometimes. But then again, there are blessings too that take your breath away.