When word broke on Wednesday, Dec. 14, that Alana Rose Prettyman had passed away, one could feel the oxygen being sucked out of our office. Judging by comments on social media, that feeling enveloped most of our community.
The 15-month child with that amazing twinkle in her eyes had suffered a rare genetic disorder, and many in our community had rallied together to help the family. There were fundraising events and “Hugs for Alana” bracelets being sold in various locales — to both raise money so her parents could tend to her around the clock, and to offer people a visible means to show their support.
We all knew this day would come, as did the family, but we’re guessing many people were praying and hoping for some kind of divine intervention. A miracle, if you will.
We know we were.
People are hurting, and we won’t even pretend to know how Alana’s parents and family are feeling right now. It’s an easy time to look toward the sky and question how something could happen to somebody so young. Especially now, in the Christmas season, it is easy to ask why. Sadly, those are answers far above and beyond us.
What we can offer, for whatever it is worth, are a few observations.
For instance, we saw people young and old, male and female, and, yes, Democrat and Republican, come together in solitude for this family. We saw pink bracelets on the wrists of some of the men and women working on the Route 26 project outside our front door. We spoke with readers who wanted to help in any way they could, and talked with advertisers who wanted to raise money in some way or another.
You see, what Alana did was unite us in the very basic principles of love and compassion. People wanted badly... to help. To do something. Anything. They followed the family on Facebook, and alternated smiles and tears with every new posting by Alana’s mother. She became a true child of our entire community, united, once again, by compassion and love.
Alana Rose Prettyman left us far too early, and there’s just nothing we can say or anybody can do to change that. But she will always live in the hearts of those who knew her, and many people who didn’t.
We all mourn her loss, and wrap our figurative arms around the family, but it’s also important we take time to celebrate her life, and remember the impact one person can make on a group of many. Rest in peace, Baby Alana. Thank you for the gift of you.