@loripalminteriTweets by @loripalminteri
What I Remember About My Communion
Not much, to be honest. I used to have a bit about my first Holy Communion that ended with the priest going “the body of Christ” and me freezing up with nerves and saying, “may the force be with you.” I don’t, however, remember how the beginning of the joke went, but it did well and I sometimes closed with it in those early stand up years.
I remember being most excited to eat the bread. More than any of the symbolism, I just wanted to eat this bread that this “club” had. Which is also kind of weird. The thing I was looking forward to was eating Jesus’s body? I don’t really want to add “cannibalism” to my list of sins, and besides being eight years old and wanting to eat the body of Christ, I’ve since never had a cannibalistic desire.
The dress I wore was a hand-me-down (most of my clothes were for my whole childhood– maybe that’s why I don’t care about fashion as an adult. I never really had a fashion choice. Just other’s old clothes). I very much liked my dress and felt like a princess (yes, back then, I was a wannabe Disney Princess, believe it or not). Furthermore, I looked super cute. This is just because I was a really cute kid, with stellar manners. My then teacher even came to my ceremony (Mrs. Hungerford, I loved her).
I have a lot of memories of church of my sister yelling at me. Because I have restless legs. My legs are constantly shaking, to this day. I remember Lisa getting mad at me a lot, “stop moving your legs! You’re shaking the whole bench! What is the matter with you.” Not the most Catholic way to treat your little sister in the house of God, but like our Catholic predecessor’s, we were better at judging than forgiving.
Back then I did believe in God and Jesus (also Santa). Mostly, though, I loved the idea of angels. These mystical, beautiful creatures with truly benevolent hearts… how could you not relish in the idea of it?
Shortly after my first communion, I would start questioning religion. It started with learning about the Holocaust. I always was drawn to tragedy. And once I started learning about Nazi atrocity, and that it wasn’t that long ago, I read novel after novel about the holocaust (usually with my mom, resulting in me crying on her lap). This inevitably built this anger inside me that would turn to rage. Because why would our God, or any God, allow this? This was pure evil. No area of grey. With every Sunday my parents forced us to go to mass, my resentment grew. I found no logic, no solace in God. Simply, “why are you making us suffer?” Ultimately, it was this rage that lead to letting go of the notion of God. Once I did, I wasn’t so angry anymore.
Still, I liked the idea of angels. Even as I questioned God, I still held onto winged beings, somewhere in the ether. Perhaps, to me, in some ways angels were the true gods. If god was almighty and all-knowing but didn’t give a shit if people were tortured and kids died, and angels were the one on active duty, they were the only ones who deserved our worship.
Ricky Gervais has a brilliant show on Netflix called, “After Life.” It’s about a man who’s wife died from cancer and how he grieves her, being an atheist and being suicidal post her death. It’s both bitingly funny and brutally sad simultaneously. Gervais is a genius and I highly recommend the show. I laughed and cried every episode. It will give you all the feels. Anyway, there’s a scene where Gervais is finally (somewhat) moving on from his loss and he’s talking to his new friend, an older woman who also lost her husband. She says:
“If you want to be an angel, you’ve got to do it while you’re alive. Be good and do good things.” To which he replies: “I thought not caring was a superpower. I was wrong. Caring about stuff, that’s what really matters. Kindness and making other people feel good. That’s the real superpower, and we’ve all got it.”
Holy shit is that beautiful. And, not for nothing, an ideology I can get behind. My nephew’s first communion is this weekend. He is my angel. As is his sister, Charlotte. And also my little baby, Blaise. So are my parents, my siblings, my aunts and uncles, cousins, friends and even, some comedians. These are the living angels who come to my side. And while I have them, I don’t need mythical ones. If mythical angels exist, they can go help the millions of people in the world affected by war, famine and disease. I’m okay.