Facebook newsfeeds teem with Prom photos this time of year, and–if you are Catholic–with First Communion pictures. Both are rites of passage that many of us can relate to and which engender nostalgia (or PTSD, depending on what your Prom experience was).
I love attending First Communion Mass, even (especially?) when I don’t have a kid of my own participating. We made sure to get to church early this morning, knowing that our own second-row pew would be occupied by proud parents but hoping not to have to sit in the very back, or (horrors!) on the wrong side of the church.
The little kids wanted to know what the hurry was and when I told them William moaned, “No! Not First Communion!” I assumed he was concerned about the extra time that would be taken out of his Sunday (a concern apparently shared by many regular parishioners who are noticeably absent on such days).
But no, he said, it was that, “It can’t be time for First Communion again! Time is going by too fast!”
Yes, William is prematurely (he’s in the 7th grade) concerned with the swiftness of the passage of time, something I don’t remember thinking about until I was a Senior in high school worried about leaving my friends to go away to college.
I can’t offer any comfort to William in this area. If I were to be honest I’d have to tell him, as any parent reading this knows, that time only flies by all the faster as we age, particularly if you have children. (Christmas, for example, which took an eternity to arrive when I was a child, seems to come around frighteningly fast!)
When all those middle-aged women told me, a young mother with a newborn baby, that it goes so fast, they were annoying, but they were telling the truth.
I remember my own First Communion quite clearly, and it was just over 40 years ago. Sixteen years ago, I had a very particular idea about the dress I thought Emily should wear to make her First Communion, and it was my very first online purchase (greeted by everyone I told with, “Really? You can DO that?”). Spring followed Spring, celebration followed celebration, and our last baby made her First Communion just two Aprils ago.
And now I will never have another First Communicant of my own (although I hope to be the grandmother of many!). Those are days I can’t ever live again, and maybe that explains why there were tears in my eyes as I watched the adorable little ones process down the aisle this morning.
The days are long but the years are short. I wish I had understood that sooner.