Heaven must be missing an angel

I'm pretty proud to be the father of three such wonderful children, even on regular ordinary everyday days.

Yesterday, though, I had moments when I thought I was surely going to burst open with pride.

Our charming, funny, level-headed baby girl made her First Communion yesterday, along with a record crowd of some 70-odd classmates and friends (St. John Church was absolutely jammed - standing room only, as you can imagine).

We're all exhausted today, but blissed out too. What a magical, beautiful day. The weather was mean to us, hammering rain for a good part of the afternoon, but no one cared a sou (or a sou'wester, for that matter), and it didn't disrupt the party anyway.

The morning opened quietly with the last minute arrangements, Leona ferrying Lily off to the hairdresser for her first fancy party do. It's a credit to Leona that so much of the organizing and running around had been done in the days and weeks leading up to the big day, such that our Sunday morning was remarkably calm and relaxed.

Once the spread for the party was mostly laid out, the coolers full of drinks for old and young, and everyone scrubbed, polished and dressed up to the nines, we rolled over to the St. John school gym for the official photos and the start of the day's ongoing parade of stunning young boys and girls in their immaculate suits and perfect white and ivory dresses. It was like the gym had been invaded by giggly doves.

Easing into our regular pew in St. John's (Dad had been dropped off with a good book earlier in the day to sneakily save our seats), the anticipation of the morning really started to take hold. I was suppressing the urge to giggle with excitement all the time we were sitting there, waiting for the grand parade down the aisle.

Words can't easily frame the shivery thrill as the long line of perfectly-prepared boys and girls marched in regal procession down the main aisle. It sounds daft, but at first glance I literally didn't recognize Lily as she passed our seats. I'd seen her all morning; even helping her into her perfect little Irish linen dress and the rest of the matching ensemble. But as she walked - glided - down that aisle, she was transformed in my eyes.

The only way I can describe the feeling is to compare it to how I felt when the doors of St. Joseph's, Valleymount, swung open nearly 14 years ago, and Leona walked through with her brothers on either side. As with Leona then, I fell in love with Lily all over again as I watched her approach the altar.

The ceremony was mostly a blur from that point. One moment stands out in bright detail, though -- when Lily stepped up behind one of her classmates to deliver her part of the Prayers of the Faithful. I'm biased, I know, but everyone else also commented that her diction and enunciation was the very best of the bunch. She just blows us away sometimes.

After the ceremony, and cake and further helpings of giggliness back at the school gym, we headed home to host a big group of friends, neighbours, and loved ones for what turned out to be one of the best parties I've ever enjoyed. By the end of the afternoon, the weather had even cleared up enough for us to let the kids onto the trampoline at the end of the garden.


I'm not often at a loss for words, but there's just no way to describe quite how I felt all day yesterday, watching our stunning girl move through the crowd, lighting up every face around her. Though the words fall short, the pictures help capture some of Lily's extraordinary magic. She's one in a million, and I thank God for bringing her into our lives.

I love you, Lily Aine. Thank you for an amazing, joyous day.