About 6 months into my “new life” our house-mate announced she was pregnant. As exciting as that was for her and her husband - those words threw me back to that groggy moment only months before when I was being wheeled into a surgery room to stop my pregnancy. I couldn’t breathe. Of course the world goes on, ain’t nothing gonna stop that but, as a compassionate human must do with her own heart, protecting my vulnerable healing spirit was my priority. My sorrow was far too fresh to be able to witness excitement and growth of a family I so dearly wanted but had just found out I could not have. I had done a lot of traveling in my twenties, so I proposed to my husband we get rid of a bunch of stuff, store only what we love, and fly away somewhere. I was talking with one of my besties (a goddess the same age as my mother yet more like a sister from another time than anything) telling her our decision for our next move on our healing journey. She offered up her home in Mexico. I said yes. From that point on we began preparing for a four-month get-a-way. 2 months in Mexico, and time with our families in Ontario and Alberta Canada.
My husband and I joyfully spoke of how we could use this time to get re-aquatinted, to fall in love again, to meet each other anew. We fantasized about the luxury of spending days in bed together and feeding off fresh fruit salads and adventure. Two weeks into our trip we encountered three starving puppies who would save us as much as we saved them.
If you’ve been to Mexico you know it’s impossible to ignore the countless dogs left to starve and fend for themselves in a harsh environment where very few will make it.
We were driving along the highway back to our small fishing village on the ocean with new friends, heading home from an adventure in the city, when a small brown creature ran across the road in front of us. “Stop the car that puppy is way too young to be away from its mother,” our friend says. We stop the car and both Mr.Brady and Mr. other husband get out to search the bushes. Amongst a stink they found said brown creature with two even smaller bone racks, all trying to run and hide. They were moving! The two Mr.’s caught all three and brought them back to the car. Puppies. They were too tired and sick to run away (sad face here). The driver handed off one pup to his wife and Brady handed me one to hold close for the ride. I looked down in my arms and was surprised by the immediacy of tears flowing down my face. How was this little darling still alive. It weighed nothing, looking like soggy fur with a bloated belly and two tiny sorrowful scared eyes. These three scared creatures of the universe smelled very very bad. The men later told us the mother must have starved and died and that is why they smelled. The pups were too young to be weaned so they must have stayed close not knowing any better (except for the strongest one, who later came to be known as Lulu).
We arrived at our Mexico home. “Um, we need a break from rescues, can you two take care of them just for a few days” says our new friend. It’s hard to live there in luxury and see the suffering. So caring expats typically take turns housing the few lucky pups who win survival. “Of course” we say (in the back of our minds both feeling our desperately needed time together slipping away). Our hacienda had an outdoor bathroom and change room by the pool so we split our efforts bathing, getting the pups drinking, and encouraging them to eat. After an hour of basic care, we found a container and towels for a bed. I laid the container on its side and padded it with cozy towels so the pups could move if they wanted to but still feel safe. The floor was marble so at least it would be easy to clean in the morning. Once we could better see what we were dealing with, we named them. By naming them we took responsibility for them. Collectively, we would give these three lucky creatures every chance we could at staying alive and feeling love. The universe can be a magical and harsh place as most of us know, so when you get the opportunity to unconditionally love something - you do it.
We had three girls. The first aptly named by the woman who saw her “Guadalupe”. Lupe for short. If it wasn’t for her running across the road the other two would have died by the next night. Guadalupe is a Saint - the Holy mother. Next I looked at the teeny tiny fur ball before me, her ears bigger than the rest of her, her eyes wanting for comfort, and I felt into her - “Rosie” I said. She feels like a Rosie (and she sure was a Rosie as we discovered lol). Then Brady, holding the last of the three, the one we all knew wasn’t likely to make it through the night, pronounced her name - “Angel”. “I believe in her” he said. There we were, three skinny tiny puppies, with no mother, tucked in with towels to a Rubbermaid container in a pool room at a casa on the beach in Mexico. Our friends went home with a plan to return the next day so we could take the little ones to the vet and get food. The little darlings cried every time we tried to close the door and leave, so I stayed with them, my hand in the makeshift cocoon until they fell asleep.
The next morning lover and I woke early with a keen sense of urgency to go and check on Lupe, Rosie & Angel. To our surprise, and with tears of joy, they were all alive. For the next few days we were like nurses on the front lines, administering meds, syringe feeding and cuddling for hours on end. We had our days in bed time, just not how we thought. After three days the choice came up to either drop them off at the local vet (expats raised money to fund a vet on the beach) and leave it to fate to decide if they made it or not once they were good enough to be released back on the street - or keep them. And that was the end of our holiday. It was, however, the beginning of an epic love story.
For two weeks our days looked like this:
One morning it happened. It was the usual routine… wake-up check on pups…for the first time they were playing!!!! Mr.Brady and I rejoiced and danced and called to share the news with the woman who saw Lupe in the first place. The next four weeks were spent focusing all our time on strengthening the pups for a flight home to Canada. We fed the girls coconut water and meat, chicken innards and whatever other fill we could get for their tummies. We became deeply attached to these girls and treated them as our own. I am a mother whose child didn’t make it. These three girls were the daughters of a mother who didn’t make it. We felt warm in our hearts B & I, thinking we could take care of this mother’s daughters for her. It was the least we could with our hurt and love. As a team, my loves, we’re stronger.
As for my fantasy romance abroad, Mr.Brady and I both had bags under our eyes from all the work of three wild, sick, needy little things. Lol, we watched movies; all five of us huddled on the couch instead of traveling to lost lagoons. We took trips to the vets instead of paddle boarding on the warm ocean, and we spent hours marketing these girls till we found the best possible families for them back at home in Canada. Essentially, we were parents after all. Proud, stressed, tired, inspired, committed, momma and poppa bear parents. And it couldn’t have been more perfect.
In the end, we found equally inspired puppy sitters (expats who also yearn to make a difference) so we did get to take occasional kick-ass trips exploring as lovers. Plus once the pups were playing, we took turns paddle boarding and watching the pups play free on the shore. We had three good exciting days of Yucatan adventures and managed to ensure some moments of good play amidst the parenting after all. It was hard, stressful and inspiring. We’d celebrated our fifth anniversary at the end of our trip in Mexico (yes it was an amazing day in a place called Tulum actually - thank you). By that time we had all three girls adopted by the most amazing families we could have wished for. And I was picky. These girls had to go to committed homes who wanted to parent, to love, to be inspired by these girls. Each girl now had a family. Each girl was alive, and well, and loved, and had families that couldn’t wait to meet them…because of us.
On our last day in Mexico, everyone who’d helped us save these little ones got to say goodbye. The vet and her helpers, the Mr. and Mrs. that we caught the girls with, and the caring dog sitters. Love takes a village. We felt that village.
Because of those girls, we now have an extended family. We not only visit the girls yearly, but we absolutely love and adore the families that adopted them. Truly, we consider them our family too now. My husband and I lost a child. Our great shared dream to parent and meet our own offspring had died. But, we are richer than many in love. We’re oodles more aware of miracles and magic than before. We have bigger families now -people who care as deeply and unabashedly as we do. In Mexico the year our babe and our dream died, we rescued three puppies. But the truth is, they rescued us. They showed us that our dream only evolved. Our dream of love and joy and connection and contribution is alive and well. They showed us that life grows from ashes. They taught us love, and gratitude, and vulnerability, and humility. They rescued us.
So, in the end, we didn’t get our days in bed, sleeping in and making love, rolling from one adventure into the next at our own pace. But, we did get a beautiful place on the beach in front of the turquoise sea. We did get support, and joy, and meaning. We did get fresh fruit salads and coconuts from the trees and lounging time in hammocks. We got exactly what we needed. We got life lessons about the reality of fantasies (living right on the ocean is a pain in the ass) and evidence that the grass truly isn’t greener on the other side. And it set the stage for our next few years by reminding us that it’s not what you don’t have, it’s what you have to share, and the choices you make that weaves magic into your story. To the families that have our angels - you are all amazing human beings and the world is a better place because of you. To our three furry angels - as a couple, you’re our most precious gift. It was a blessing to care for you. To the momma dog who suffered life - rest. I hope our actions did something to give your spirit hope. Hope. What a magical way to leave this chapter - with Hope (archaic meaning: Trust).
When Heaven & Earth Collide