It was a strange thing to go to work and write about a 14-year-old boy who was punched and stomped into cardiac arrest by other boys – just as young and not much older – who now face murder charges; to help steady his shaking, sobbing aunt; and then to go home, to cook, to feed, to bathe, to put to bed. And afterward, to make sure the kitchen table was spotless so I could spread the white fabric out and sew my daughter’s baptism dress.
(To be clear, she started the service with shoes on. It’s just that they didn’t last very long.)
It was really simple as far as dresses go. Finished with just a little bit of lace, and, pinned to the bodice, a medal of St. Rita, who is a patron of impossible causes. Also, there is a pretty story about how, after she was baptized, her family saw a cloud of white bees swarming around her crib, never stinging her.
We chose, for her godparents, her tios, Anthony and Mark, and her aunt, Anne. Who are far away, maybe, but who will be close to her, I know it.
And during the service, my mom read from Ezekiel, the part about the cleansing of impurities and the giving of a new heart.
And I know that they are not magic words. And I know that saying them is not enough.
But what I think is so beautiful about a baptism, why I wanted Alice to be baptized, is how it tells us so gently and so certainly that she is ours and we are hers. And that is something to count on and to care for. That we owe each other better than trying. We will be our best.