This is the story of how Ceiba saved me.
“All the fights and the tears and the heartache
I thought I’d never get through
and the moment I almost gave up
all led me here to you.”
– Darius Rucker, This
A couple months ago, I was going through an awful rough patch. I’d been struggling for a long time, with mountain-sized ups and downs, and suddenly everything was completely out of control and I was completely overwhelmed. Let’s just say that I didn’t want to do life anymore.
I ended up “running away” from everything for awhile, and I went to stay at don Ubaldo’s house for a few days. And almost every day, all day, I was all alone. Or well, almost.
I would have been alone, if not for Ceiba. (Of course, he wasn’t called Ceiba yet, as that was the name that I bestowed upon him later on. At the time, he was “Gugui.”)
Because of don Ubaldo’s living situation, Ceiba was kept on a short chain all day, and he only had access to cement and dirt. Late at night/early in the morning, he would be let loose to run around the neighborhood for a few hours.
So it was just Ceiba and me. I was not happy with the idea of him being tied up all day, so I made an effort to take him out on frequent walks (on our first walk, all I had was an old rope to use as a leash). We went exploring together, through coffee plantations and over red dirt roads (which, of course, inspired me to sing Brooks & Dunn). I bathed Ceiba with flea shampoo, because he desperately needed it. I sat on the floor of the front porch and drank tea while he rested his big, soft head on my lap. Basically, I began to fall in love.
At one point during my stay, I just broke down and cried for hours. And “breakdown” is an accurate description of the state. It feels like your world is crumbling and there’s nothing stable or solid to hold onto. Ceiba was my only anchor.
We went on a very long walk. I was a miserable, trembling, terrified mess. I didn’t understand how the landscape could be so painfully, stupidly beautiful, so lush and green and endless, yet I felt so horrible, like someone had gutted me and scooped out my insides. I was scared that no matter what, I would never “be okay.” We walked and walked and walked and I cried and cried and cried.
“Maybe when you think everything’s falling apart, it’s actually falling together.”
There were some very ugly moments that day. But somehow, with the help of Ceiba and don Ubaldo, I got through my darkest hours. (Edit: That sounds very intense, doesn’t it? Well… it was pretty intense.)
Much of that week was a nauseating blur of emotional turmoil, tears, and fears. I didn’t know what the hell was going to happen next. The one single thing I knew, the only fact that was suddenly born inside my blood, was that I wanted (perhaps needed?) to take Ceiba and make a life with this dog. I knew that by my second day there, and so I had asked don Ubaldo how he would feel about Ceiba being mine and going to live with me. The truth is that if don Ubaldo was going to say no, I wanted him to tell me as soon as possible, before I got more attached.
But he said yes.
“Don’t quit 5 minutes before the miracle.”