I’ve had many highlight moments over my years.
Being surprised in elementary school by my Aunt with a trip to Disney World that my single-mom couldn’t afford (she also surprised me with an adorable tiny red convertible once we arrived). Walking through Cabrini Green as a high school student with a WGN TV crew, as they shot footage for the Extra Effort Award I’d won for my volunteer work there. Getting into my dream school, Boston College. Being selected to be an RA. Winning the Martin Luther King Scholarship, which paid for the bulk of my senior year tuition. Every year, the anniversary of getting fired in 2004 and being reminded that I transformed that firing into a thriving, still going, “pinch me” business. Writing the last check for my car, five years after its purchase. Meeting “the one” who turned into “Best Friend.” Every time a Fear Experiment℠ ended and the nervous performers got a standing ovation. My first paid speaking gig. My TEDx talk. When Best Friend proposed. Our wedding. Sharing a story about said proposal in front of a sold out theater of 700 and getting so choked up that I couldn’t continue, resulting in the crowd cheering their support and encouragement. Buying our first home. Whenever people read (future, hopeful, crossing my fingers) Sayabook segments and rave and ask about pre-ordering. Just last week, when entrepreneurship students of mine made me cry. And a gazillion other moments.
Taking all of these blessings into account, this past weekend, I experienced a moment that I’d include in the Top Ten.
Best Friend and I have been fostering dogs for almost a year now. We’ve had seven babies — Emma & Kenai, Brownie, Ingrid & Hugo, Ferngully, and Snapdragon — stay with us from a few days to a few weeks, average age two months. Most of them have been parvo pups. Parvovirus, commonly known as Parvo, is “a highly contagious viral disease that can produce a life-threatening illness. The virus attacks rapidly dividing cells in a dog’s body, most severely affecting the intestinal tract.” Which has meant vet visits, monitoring, medication, isolation, and a lot of “Are we doing this right?! Please get better!”
People always comment, “I don’t know how you do it. How you say goodbye.” Honestly, not having to clean up indoor pee and poop (parvos aren’t allowed outside) or get up at 6AM, and being able to deep scrub my Type A, “I love cleaning so much I have a cleaning business” home makes the bye easier. But the main reason we’re able to say goodbye, over and over and over, is that we know our babies are headed to wonderful lives with their Forever Families and that them leaving opens the door for another cuddlebug to come into our lives. And when we’re fortunate enough to have a Mom and/or Dad who keep us updated on our babies, well that right there is the kicker. Seeing the pups grow up and thrive and become sassy, spunky, healthy beings is just the best thing ever. Not toppable. Or so I thought.
Best Friend and I always hoped and envisioned that our fosters remember us. But let’s be honest, their tiny little puppy brains take in so much those first few months. Combine that with the ones who were simply fighting to stay alive and/or whom we had for such a short time, we weren’t so sure. Then we saw a couple of our babies and while they were excited to see us, it felt more “they’re dogs who are excited to see anyone” than “they remember us!!!!!!”
Until this past weekend.
In March, a few days after being asked to take in a parvo pup we never actually learned anything about because she died before foster wheels could turn, we were asked by Alive Rescue if we could take in Blue Jeans.
Yes! We could. Unfortunately, Blue Jeans didn’t recover as fast as hoped. Tomorrow turned into the next day and the next day.
A week later, after various back and forths and updates from Alive, devastating news.
Heartbroken. I walked over to Smoke Daddy to eat my feelings.
When I returned, a message from another rescue, One Tail At a Time (OTAT), awaited —
The first few days comprised of not eating, not drinking, being lethargic and an overall sad sack o’ potatoes. That quickly changed into ermagod, we can’t feed her enough nor contain this silly monster.
She learned how to jump on and off the couch and eventually how to climb up and over the baby gate. But no matter how much she grew, at night, she remained my baby girl, refusing to sleep alone in her crate and thus slept on me as I slept on the couch in the room where we kept her.
The pic that got her adopted. We learned that this was the pic shown to her Forever Family that made them fall in love and know Fern was for them.Her official OTAT adoption photo.Over the moon happy, I was also sad as I wondered if I’d ever see Baby Girl again. As I always do, I asked the rescue to pass on my contact info and desire to stay in touch.
A couple of weeks later.
First of all, Maya! I was named after Maya Angelou, but my mom wanted to change things up, so take out the “M” and put in an “S,” voilà. Saya.
Second of all, squeeeeeeeeeee. Mom wants to stay in touch. When she sent a pic of Baby Girl in this luxury, Oprah crate followed by Fern in a sweater, I knew she’d be ok. More than ok. That she was in for the best life.
We’ve sent pics and videos back and forth over the past few months, which has been just delightful. And now through the joy of Facebook, I can stalk Maya without having to bother Mom.
Look at this family!!!! 😍 (Mom approved me including these pics)
When Mom recently asked if we wanted to see cuddlebug in person, we OF COURSE’d.
Which is how, four months after we said goodbye, we met Mom and Dad and reunited with Ferngully (sorry, habit!), er Maya, in a Logan Square parking lot. And without a doubt, were remembered.
Thank you Alive, OTAT, and Liana and Adam for helping to create this Top Ten Moment for me. From losing Blue Jeans and being sad over a dog we never got to meet to standing in kitchen and all of a sudden hearing the pitter patter of Ferngully feet who houdini’ed her way over the Baby Gate to being slobbered on in a parking lot, it’s been an emotional ride. One with the best ending. Er, beginning. Cause this nugget’s life is just taking off.
And of course thank you Baby Girl-Ferngully-Maya for making me a proud mama and squeezing my heart in an indescribable way. Whenever it gets hard down the road, I will forever remember this moment. Cause you remembered us.
Y’all are crying. And making me cry again.