I love throwing parties. I love making big plans and creating beautiful things. I am notorious for making such elaborate schemes that I can’t possibly do it myself, and I have to enlist my entire family’s help.
I think Alice was just a month old when I first envisioned her 1st birthday party. I knew there would be lots of pink and gold and amazing cake. I knew her whole family would be there and everyone would talk about how she was a truly perfect little girl. I knew everyone there would love her. I knew there would be tons of presents and it would probably be far more grand than it should be. I did not know she wouldn’t be there.
I did not know many of the guests would have never met her. I did not know the cake would be donated. I did not know flowers would be donated. I did not know she wouldn’t ever try cake. I did not know she wouldn’t wear the sparkly gold one-year-old outfit I already picked out. I didn’t know I would cry when it was over because I miss her so badly.
I had such an amazing time planning this party for my perfect girl. I was so touched by how many people were not only willing, but eager to help in any and every way they could.
Back in March I drove by a store called Paper Crush in Lehi, UT. I could tell from the outside it was just DARLING inside and I had to go in. I just had to. So I walked in and I met the store owner and we chatted about our lives. She was kind, and so easy to connect with. We were instant friends. (I’m pretty sure she is instant friends with everyone she meets, let’s be honest.)
I saw so many adorable 1st birthday party items in there and I felt a sharp pang in my heart. I wished I could have a party for Alice. But she wouldn’t get a first birthday party, or any birthday party. But as I looked around the room at all the beautiful decorations I realized I could and should still have a party for her. I shared my idea with Holly, the shop owner, and she was immediately enthusiastic. She was so kind and so supportive and I truly believe my idea would have died if she had been any less incredible about it. She offered anything in the shop I needed for the event, free of charge. Without her we wouldn’t have had balloons, wrapping paper, cake toppers, or in all reality, any party at all.
Willow Specialty florist in Bountiful Utah immediately replied to my inquiry with the sweetest response. It brought tears to my eyes. They said,
“We would love the opportunity to work with you as you plan this event. I'm sure that you have a million ideas running through your head as to what you would like your event to look like and we'd love to play even a small role in that.
We look forward to helping in our own small way and creating an atmosphere that pays tribute to your sweet Alice.”
I am telling you, they went above and beyond. They more beautiful than I could have imagined, and their generosity and passion for the project made it even better.
I also reached out to a friend of mine who makes cakes. I had never tried her work before, but I had seen her Instagram and she makes simply stunning sweets. She made 150 servings for the party. You guys. That is so many. She made THREE enormous and beautiful cakes! The only thing that would have made them better is a tiny Alice hand to grab them.
I wanted to be prepared for up to 300 guests so I recruited more cakes from the Little Cake and Dessert Shop in Lehi and Cakes de Fleur in Salt Lake City. They both so willingly donated their talents.
With those things in place, the event was ready to become a reality. I got SO many amazing companies to donate items for the raffle and the auction. Women (exclusively women) from all over the country emailed and messaged me and offered their services. They wondered what could they give, how quickly did I need it, and how else could they help? I could feel their love and support emanating from my computer, and it gave me strength. I wish I could list every single vendor that donated, but suffice it to say if it was there, it was donated.
The night was a huge success. Everyone who came was immensely generous. I saw so many college students, many of whom have a baby or two of their own, giving money I know was a sacrifice. I saw so many women come alone with their kids and stay from beginning to end to show their support. I saw long lost friends of mine come out of the woodwork and show that they cared. I saw people who drove hours and hours to come and give what they could. I saw kids dancing, people laughing, and I felt pure joy. I feel like that’s the power Alice had. She had the power to bring true, deep, permeating joy. Joy that can fight back against depression, and stress and anything else. We brought that joy back for a night, and in that way we honored her.
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In addition to that, we raised money to fight back against SIDS. We raised over $2,000 with the online and in-person donations. (If you’d still like to donate to the cause in honor of Alice you can do so here.)
I just want to leave you with my twist on a quote from “This is Us”. I have adjusted it just a little bit to fit my exact circumstances. It’s said by a doctor to a young father after they unexpectedly lose one of their triplets during childbirth. It spoke to me deeply when I heard it several months ago while I was folding laundry and Alice was taking a nap, but it speaks to me even more deeply now.
(We) took the sourest lemon that life has to offer and turned it into something resembling lemonade. If (we) can do that, then maybe (we) will still be taking (our baby with us), just maybe not the way we planned