We all have friends in our lives that change us forever. You know, the kind of friend who sticks by you through thick and thin, through the good, the bad, and the ugly. The friend whose mere presence causes a change to occur, as if they were the missing piece to the incomplete puzzle of your life. It’s because they are in our lives that our world changes, our souls are uplifted, and our lives are better. It’s because of them that we have a little more strength to conquer the mountains we all face.
These kinds of friends come in different forms, and sometimes, they come when we least expect it. I am lucky to have had several people in my life who have played that role. People who have stuck by me, no matter how annoying I can be, people who have guided me and have been there for me when I needed it the most. Though I have several people in my life that I have to thank for their everlasting friendship and love, during this particular time in my life, the friend that I’ve owe the most to was my dog, Beau.
I remember the very first day I met Beau. I had come into Dr. Gray’s office for my weekly massage and was laying face down on Tracy’s table getting a deep-tissue massage, trying to relieve some pain. Her elbows were digging into my muscles, and I could feel the friction as her hands glided across my rib cage. The peculiar thing about Tracy was that she never really let me enjoy the massages in silence. Whenever I got a massage, she took the opportunity to tell me about her life, her plans, and her family, as if somehow, I was providing the therapy for her, instead of it being the other way around. This particular day, she started telling me about her patient, Sarah, whose Daschund had recently had puppies, and everyone had claimed all the puppies except for one, and she was bringing him into the office that afternoon for Tracy to see him. Knowing how much I wanted a dog, Tracy invited me to stay and meet the puppy. After the massage ended, the lure of a puppy in my life, even for just a few minutes, was powerful enough to have me skipping through the waiting room, forgetting all about the pain or anything else that troubled my mind.
Before I knew it, he was prancing through the door, and the scent of puppy was radiating throughout the waiting room. I vividly remember looking down at him and holding him in my arms. He had these tiny legs, a long body, wrinkly brown skin, and elephant-sized ears. But there was something oddly magnetic about Beau. He was so different from any other dog I had seen before—he had this perfect mixture of kindness and sadness in his eyes, and I knew, as soon as I met him, that to me, he was perfect and would always be.
As I held onto him, my thoughts wandered to my mama. What would she think if she knew I was holding a puppy? And it was as if she could hear my thoughts, because precisely at that moment, she walked in the waiting room to pick me up. “Nana, que estas haciendo?” my mama blurted out almost instinctively, asking me what I was doing and giving me a look of disapproval. People are not keen to change, and my mama was no exception. She had pretty much made a firm stance that the only way I could have a dog was if I paid for it myself. So I knew, very well, that she was not at all happy about finding me in the waiting room of Dr. Gray’s office with a puppy in my arms. Although I had already made substantial leaps forward with my mama agreeing to get a puppy, even if I had to pay for it myself, I didn’t really want to upset her by doing something she didn’t approve of, so I immediately stood up and handed Beau back to Sarah. And just like that, my mama and I walked out the door. In that moment, I quietly, secretly, despite the fact that I knew I could figure out a way to save enough money, began to worry that I would never see him again.
The next day, after hours of me tormenting her, my mama agreed to give me enough money to pay for Beau’s deposit. It appeared that she had overcome her fear of change, or maybe she knew how important this was to me; whatever it was, she gave in and put me one step closer to having the puppy I wanted, and I was thrilled.
The only issue was that I had to come up with the rest of the money all by myself. Finding $200 at that age was like winning the lottery: virtually impossible. Couple this with the fact that no one I knew wanted to donate money to the “Eliana Puppy Fund,” and it meant the odds were strikingly against me. I tried everything I could think of to raise money to purchase Beau: I walked dogs, took care of cats, cleaned cars, and pleaded with everyone I knew to donate, but still, after four weeks of hard labor, I had only raised $50 and I still needed $150. It was then that I knew that I needed to find a way to make a lot of money, quickly. Time was passing, and the longer it took me to raise the money the less time I felt like I had. I kept thinking that Sarah would get sick of waiting for me and sell Beau to the next highest bidder as if he was a piece of meat at the market. I was really afraid that I was going to lose him. It was those times, as I worried about never being able to raise enough money to buy Beau, that I would think about the fact that he was going to be mine, eventually. I just couldn’t give up on him.
Though I had tried everything I could think of, sometimes, just when you need it the most, someone gives you a hand along the way. Amanda, my dad’s aunt, was having a garage sale, and asked me to help her sell her things for the weekend and she would pay me for my effort. Two days of waking up at 4:00 a.m. and twenty-eight hours later, I still didn’t have enough money to pay for Beau, but I was now $100 closer.
Now, I didn’t know then how it happened, but luck finally was on my side, and the little money I needed came in the mail from my aunt, Leticia, who I’d never expected to donate. I, of course, called her and thanked her for her generosity, and she led me to believe that this was a gift, a birthday gift for me. The oddity of it all was that Leticia had never given me a birthday gift—she had never even called me on my birthday. Years later, I found out that she never did give me a birthday gift, she lent that money to my mama, and my mama had to pay it all back with interest, but I guess that’s a story for another time. My mama had her secret ways of making me work hard for what I wanted, but was always there to support me when I needed it the most, even if it was something she didn’t want herself. In the case of Beau, she helped me find a way to make it possible, and made me believe that I did it all by myself.
The day had finally arrived. After three months of hard work, I had raised enough money to buy Beau, and it was finally time to bring him home. It was an early December evening, and the cool winter breeze had hit Florida. My mama and I drove down Orange Blossom Trail to the Rooms To Go parking lot—that’s where Sarah was going to meet us with Beau. When we arrived, I walked out of the car with the money in my pocket ready to make the purchase, and my mama stayed in the car watching me through the window. In complete disbelief that this was actually happening, I handed her a load of singles and a few twenties that had been crumpled together to form a giant ball of money. She looked at me, smiled, and handed Beau to me. I thanked her and walked away, with Beau inside my sweater to keep him warm. At that moment, I held him in my arms, and it was like a part of my soul knew that I would never be the same once Beau entered my life. After that day, and as long as he lived, Beau was there through it all. He never left my side through everything I went through. When life got challenging, when my condition got worse, when I felt defeated; Beau would be there with me through it all.