We've heard it a million times Sisters - it takes a village to raise a child.
I found out a couple days before Alana's birthday that mom and dad were going to miss it. And one by one, the family I had invited to celebrate Alana's birthday responded that they too, wouldn't make it.
I spent almost all day Saturday in tears. Alana's party was a day away and the thought of no one being there around the cake Sister was making was devastating. D tried his best to console me. "Don't worry, we will have fun. We'll put up streamers. What color does she like?"
"I don't knooooooooooowww", I sobbed. I sat and cried the ugly cry for a long time, then about noon I got up and went to Furnitureland to buy a couch with a hide-a-bed.
It felt like the right thing to do. Fill the empty space with a couch.
I came home and sat on my new couch, still sad. Very, very sad. Then I had an idea.
What if I invited my friends.
It sounds so simple and silly, and like, a no-brainer - but this is what inviting my friends translated to -
What if I told people that I needed them. That I needed their help. That I couldn't do this thing all by myself. That I couldn't be the one to save the day for my daughter and I needed them to come and be the hero for me and for Alana.
I don't know what scares you to your bones - but needing people - and admitting that I need people - is right up there with spiders, poorly washed produce, and memory loss.
It took an incredible amount of courage, and humility, and vulnerability - to send out a desperate plea-text to my Fristers.
"It's Alana's birthday. My family can't come. My sister is making a fabulous cake. I bought her a karaoke machine. Please come and be a part of Operation Save Alana's Birthday. Don't need to bring anything. Just please come and sing".
Within seconds, Shelly texted - "I'm coming".
Christy texted, "I'm there!"
And just when my heart was about to burst open with excitement, Stacey texted, "I am going to bring her a fabulous present! It's a special age".
Yep - I cried.
Today, they came.
The adorned my daughter with jewelry and balloons and superhero capes and books about wishes and fruity scented pens that we all sat around and happily huffed.
They ate spaghetti and salad and bread.
They lit candles and sang Happy Birthday and ate cake and ice cream.
And my Tribe became Alana's Village People.
I guess the Village People really knew what they were talking about after all.
"No man, does it all by himself.
Young (wo)man, put your pride on the shelf.
And just go there to the YMCA
I'm sure they can help you today."
It was your birthday, but we both received incredible gifts. We are surrounded, my love, with people who stop, drop, and show up. People who sing with us and sing over us. People who fill our homes with celebration and our living rooms with life.
You've got an amazing village, my baby.
My wish for you on your 4th birthday is that you always look out and see that you are surrounded by Villagers who love you and are cheering for you.
And that you never forget what YMCA really stands for. It's truly, the secret of life.