This day had some serious potential. I mean receiving your First Communion in Florence IN San Miniato from your godfather with the monk that prayed for you exactly when you were born as he was inspired by the Holy Spirit. This day had potential to be a very memorable and special day.
I'd say that it lived up to that potential for sure, but not AT ALL how any of us had expected.
|Bernardo and Godfather Brian|
As is always the case, I have trouble getting people ready for big, important events when everyone has to look nice. I don't want to get anyone ready too early or, you know what happens, someone messes up their outfit or spills on it or something. So I typically wait just a hair too long for all the unexpected diaper changes and hair repairs and missing socks that happen. So we were running late.
I should mention that we had the priest with us and only one other person was actually coming to this Mass, so you may be thinking, "What's the big deal? Can't start without the priest!" True. True. However, we had the main chapel at a Benedictine monastery in Florence booked for 4:30pm with another public Mass to follow.
|Receiving First Communion|
Problem number two was that we had to drive. I had asked many times if this was a good plan, if the van would fit in the parking spots available, etc. I am always nervous driving or parking this beast inside a large European city. I was assured it was possible and would be fine. Brian would be driving.
Well, the GPS took us to a one way street and told us to go the wrong way. It was a short street, and, oh, how I wish we'd just done it, in hind sight, of course! Then there was only one other option that didn't involve driving all the way around the hill, making us later. That option was an alley that wound up the hill that holds San Miniato with walls on either side. My eyes may have gotten big at this point. I definitely started praying. I forgot to mention I was riding in the back of the van on the floor because we had taken out the back row of seats for the trip not thinking about needing the extra seats when Isaac's godfather rode with us to the church.
So I am praying on the floor in the back of the Beast as the priest and the husband try to navigate up this narrow, walled road as it gets narrower to the point of the vines on the walls were brushing up against our van. And I'm thinking that we could get stuck where we literally cannot go any further and have to back down this winding, narrow alley or we might scrape the van up pretty good or something when we come to a fork in the road. We had to make a turn that made us all pause. The priest and the husband decided it was the only way and they'd try and make it. As we are ooching around the curve, I see a tree stump sticking out of the wall right outside the window and I open my mouth to yell, "Stop!" when a crazy loud sound rang through the van. The middle two windows shattered into a million safety glass squares. All the kids start crying and screaming, the most hysterical one being Hannah. I climb forward to make sure no one is cut or hurt, especially Bobby. Then the back window shatters and glass piles right where I'd been sitting a second before. I assess the situation and decide, "I must make the screaming stop first." Hannah was the most hysterical and also the most easily reasoned with child, so I talked her down and then everyone else calmed down very quickly after I got Hannah to stop screaming. We got the glass off of Genna's lap and I said, "What do we do now?" We ended up making the turn by doing many back ups and having the priest get out of the van and guide. We parked and quickly tried to shake off the whole thing to pull together as a family and make Isaac's First Communion a priority for the next hour or two. The van could wait.
|Isaac and his godfather|
As we walked up to the church, the children kept talking about the accident. Drew said, "I want to cut down all the trees in the world." Hannah wondered aloud, "How could God let this happen?" Isaac was worried about the van. Judah parroted Drew's sentiments. I talked with Isaac on the way up, reassuring him that everything was fine. No one was hurt badly. (Genna and I had a couple of scrapes.) Now was the time to put the traumatic incident behind us for a short while and focus on the important event of the day. I also mentioned to him that this will firmly cement this day in his mind forever since trauma has a way of sticking with us longer than happy memories.
The homily was beautiful. The Mass was heaven on earth as usual! We counted our blessings while trying not to dwell on our losses. And my oldest son, whose sweetness steals my heart, received Jesus into his body for the first time ever.
|The lighting was bad in the church and so Isaac's arm band didn't come out in the pictures very well. My Aunt Carol used her machine to embroider it and I hemmed and added the elastic. It says his name, the year,and "First Holy Communion" on it.|
|Bernardo talking to Isaac after Mass|
|Our family with Florence in the background|
|And, I can't leave you hanging without seeing the damage.|