I’m sitting in the fifth pew on the left side of Sacred Heart Church in Coronado. I’m in the third grade, and in front of me is the younger classes, all neatly seated boy girl boy girl. To my left is Adrianna Serrano. To my right is Alexis Hartweil, and I have a crush on her.
My navy blue uniform cords matching my polyester sweater, which is slightly too big, but I’ll grow into it. It’s St. Blaise day, one of the more obscure holidays that we’re celebrating.
And this time, it’s important to me, mainly because St. Blaise is the patron saint of throat maladies. As we get up to get our throats blessed, I think about all the times that I’ve had issues.
I remember my babysitter, shocked at the kitchen counter as I cough up a large pool of rice and sinigang. In my memory, it takes up the entire length of the counter. I remember pain in my throat and then coughing much more soup and rice than I had actually put into my mouth and I wondered if she was going to be mad at me.
I think of every time my mother made roast chicken covered with Campbell’s Mushroom Soup, the tightness in my throat. The inability to eat.
The fear of taking pills.
So this day is important to me. It’s another mass in the middle of the week. Midway through, similar to the communion celebration, we form lines pew by pew. I stand up, hands folded in front of me and we slowly move single file towards Father Gregory.
He holds two long white candles in his left hand, in the shape of an, “X.” Each congregation member approaches and lifts their head. Father Gregory touches the candles to both sides of their throat while making the sign of the cross.
The candles are cool, and I return to my pew.
That night, a piece of chicken gets stuck in my throat and I push my plate away.