Sunday, December 23, 2012

My Village People

Two nights ago, I dressed in hiking clothes, backpack, and an afro wig held in place by a head lamp to join other ladies dressed similarly in various versions of our dear friend, Maggie. Maggie turned 50 yesterday, and we joined forces to serenade/stalk/drive by celebrate her.  We arrived in two mini vans and squat walked along the side of her house like a SWAT team. We entered through the back door announcing "your village people have arrived" and set up our shenanigans in her living room, making her sit like a hostage on the couch in front of us as we performed our own rendition of "YMCA"

Here' a snippet:
You're not old, you are R-I-P-E!
You're fun and bold, you are R-I-P-E

There was choreography, passionate singing (some more in tune than others), and a whole lot of love. We ended our drive-by love fest with the gift of a basket. Maggie was choosing to spend her birthday in silence, and the basket was filled with Pema Chodron devotionals, scarves, chocolate, cards, and things to inspire her day of reflection.

This display of love in not in isolation. These same women rapped at our wedding reception, and threw me a wedding shower that involved different versions of me climbing out of a pretend cake and the reenactment of one of their dogs, ahem, famously having her way with my leg.    

Even though I've been away for 8 years I've still had the pleasure of performing and participating in  (fairly graphic) song and dance baby showers, karaoke wedding parties, and birthday roasts. These women live and love BIG, their raucous humor a reflection of the real friendships we've forged over the years of dancing and performing and living.

These women also took care of our home, our dog and cat, cleaned out my fridge, and restocked it, took our or recycling, and returned library books for us when we went to Ethiopia so suddenly.

Simply put. I love them.  I know them in my bones because we've danced, performed and created together. But I love them because of their enormous hearts.

This morning I woke up and checked Facebook. Our adoption agency has a FB support group, and it has become, with no exaggeration, our lifeline. Checking FB has become my normal morning ritual as Ethiopia is 7 hours ahead, and our Facebook group has become the portal for 95% of the adoption information we gather.  

These women (and some men too!) have shared personal struggles with family and adoption. We've celebrated adoption milestones, referrals, and homecomings and we've wept together over bad news. We've prayed for hope, justice, and comfort and shared advice on parenting, nutrition, taxes and everything in between. The support group is a place to vent, and there is never a shortage of kind words and loving prayers from these extraordinary people. 

This is also the group that checks in on other people's kiddos in the care center in Ethiopia. We take photos, transport formula and kisses. We sneak peeks at what sizes the kids are wearing, and report how the children are doing. "Is that just a snotty nose, or a bad respiratory infection?" "Is our baby boy walking yet, if so...push him down!"

I've personally witnessed the power and miracle of group prayer/positive thought/collective consciousness. I've been blessed to take action along side this group to financially support another family who had unexpected medical expenses, make a final push to complete their adoption fees and bring their daughter HOME! 

I didn't know how much I loved these people I've never physically met until yesterday morning. Online relationships seem to be opposite scenario of the women I mentioned above. The ones I've sweated with, lifted their bodies, engaged in creative process...the ones who have seen me at my most vulnerable and most ridiculous. While I knew I relied on the Facebook group, I hadn't processed how REAL our online friendships are. 

Yesterday morning I woke, checked Facebook and read news that shook me to my core. One of my fellow adoptive moms had suddenly just lost her young, healthy, vibrant and loving husband. 

"24 hours ago from right now, Dave whispered to me, as he prepared to jog into work, "I'm leaving, I love you." And those are the last words I will forever hang onto. The sadness is truly unbearable."

I've had the privilege of following Holly's family's adoption, from her participation on the support group page, to following her honest and articulate blog, and mutually commenting on each other photos and status updates. Her journey and outlook on life and adoption has been inspiring to say the least. I've  held her family in my thoughts and prayers as they've navigated complicated adoption waters. I've admired her strength and grace through that difficult process, and unfortunately, I'm still sending prayers from afar and still admiring her strength and grace as she mourns her husband. Her husband, Dave, was only 37, they have three beautiful children. Spencer age 6, Leah age 4, and Maci age 3, recently adopted from Ethiopia. 

I didn't realize I could have such real grief for someone I've never physically met...but her family hasn't left my consciousness, or been far from my prayers.

In true IAN support group style, within minutes of reading the bad news, my phone was buzzing constantly with FB messages with a rally to support Holly and her kids. Prayers, real live grief, shock, monetary gifts collected, and calls to action were scrolling down my phone. I have taken such comfort in this group of people who shine their lights so brightly in the world.  I believe there is something in our shared adoption experience that allows our hearts to be moved in unison, and our energies called collectively into action.

I am sad that something so tragic made me realize how REAL our relationships are, but I am thankful for the presence of these beautiful people in my life. They are truly a village...a widespread constellation of love and support, but no doubt a village.

Today while I mourn for Holly, I feel deep love and gratitude to ALL my village people.

1 comment:

  1. So true. How blessed we are to be part of such an amazing group.