This weekend, my military family was there for me.
My military family is all inclusive. It's not just those military members and military family members that we've met on our journey through this life, it's also composed of quite a few civilians with no immediate connections to the military that want to be a part of our life and support us.
These civilians who have chosen to be a part of our military family have been so wonderful in the past - they sent my husband CARE packages while he was deployed, they've sent me weekly cards and called to give me support while he was gone.
And this Sunday, along with our immediate military family - our extended military family came together to make sure that my third daughter was not the only child in the parish celebrating First Communion without pews-full of people cheering her on.
A few months ago, when #3 over-heard the preparations of her CCD classmates for First Communion, she asked me an earnest question, "Who will be at my First Communion?"
The poor child sounded absolutely lost. She had heard her friends talking about abuelas and aunties, grandfathers and cousins. Some kids had plans for more than 50 people to attend! My daughter also understood that her family, which lives in California, was just not going to be able to make the day.
She was truly despondant. Earlier she had taken great glee in shopping for the perfect First Communion Dress (she refused to wear the traditional white dress, and chose an off white with a pink sash and pink rosebuds on the skirt), she refused to wear a veil and instead selected a white hibiscus to decorate her hair (she said the veil made her look like a "tool"). But after the realization that her parents and two of her siblings might be the only behinds in her pew, she seemed to start to view First Communion as something to just get through rather than a big celebration.
That is where our military family came in. Air Force Guy and I sent out some cautious emails asking people he worked with and people I have turned to for support in the past if they would be interested in celebrating with us. The answer was a resounding, "YES!"
I'm not a cryer, but I was close to tears as we planned #3's communion. All these people, none of whom were related to us by blood, immediately jumped at the chance to make #3's day extra special and decorate her pew. Everyone seemed to immediately understand how important this day was to her, and how important it was to her that she not have to do it alone.
We had people of every religion attending to support #3, too! One atheist, several who were Jewish, multiple Christian non-denomination... They were there for #3, and shared in the moment.
My daughter went to bed a very, very happy girl; a very happy girl who was absolutely assured of how important she was to people, and with the knowledge that she has an extended family that will be there for her when she needs them.
What an amazing lesson that was for all of us. And how absolutely lucky I am to be a part of such an awesome extended family.