The ten minutes after morning mass was always her favorite time. The unusually heavy doors to the church would lumber open and she would float down the sidewalk, carefree and relieved “that” was behind her. She felt as if she was being sprung from jail and soon a reception of donuts and adults talking and not paying attention to her. Not paying attention to the way she fidgeted and shifted in the pew, not paying attention to her off-key singing voice nor paying attention to her lack of participation. She was free.
That morning, after the adults finished their coffee and everyone disbursed into the parking lot, she was struck with a feeling she had never experienced. She had the feeling being pious. She felt religious and pure and this could only come from being good. Because, after all, she had been good during mass. She had sung when singing was required and she didn’t bother her mother…only stroked her thumb during what must have been the longest sermon in history. She knelt when kneeling was called for and she didn’t play with the body of Christ in her mouth.
Though she didn’t know it, her juvenile belief system teetered on the if-then logic. If something happened, then it was caused by whatever precipitated the event. If being good, then piousness. And as logic goes, it was a win win situation. As she climbed into the back seat of the 1972 Ford Falcon and slid across the cool, vinyl seat, she made a vow right then that she would be good, she would be the best child parents could ask for. She would work on being the best sister, if she had to. And thus she conducted her life accordingly.