The name Martha has popped up in my life three times this week.
Each time, I felt a thump-thump in my chest.
A tiny ache in my heart, the size of our former foster pup ... Miss Martha.
We housed the little chihuahua (at five pounds, she was a very little chi) for nearly eight weeks during November and December while she healed from a broken jaw and other assorted health issues. She'd spend her days curled up asleep in my lap while I typed over her, or wiggling and wriggling around the house like a puppy (she was 9).
The day I had to hand her back over to the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region's foster program so she could be put up for adoption, I cried.
I cried that morning. I cried packing up all her gear. I cried in the car on the way over. I cried walking up to the door of the shelter.
With tears in my eyes, I asked my supervisor there if I was the only one who, um, cried so much.
She laughed and shook her head no. Not at all.
Part of me wanted to stuff Martha back into the purse I had with me (the one I never thought I'd carry a dog in) and run.
But the logical part of me knew I couldn't. We'd already decided that for many reasons Martha was not a good fit for our family, or more importantly, Lucy, our Boston terrier.
But it hurt.
That moment when as a foster mom you have to literally hand over the dog you've cared for for months (or weeks, or days, the amount of time doesn't really matter) and say goodbye is heart-wrenching. You have no idea where they'll end up, or who will adopt them. You don't know if it'll take one day or three months of them sitting, alone, in a kennel.
Do they wonder where you went?
I've fostered twice now, and I know that by fostering a pet, I'm helping to save two pets — the one who lives with me and the one who receives the kennel space as a result.
I know that pets do better if they can heal injuries in a loving home.
I know that every day a pet spends with a foster, is 24 hours of love and care and hope — something they maybe have never had depending on their situation.
I know that in Martha's case, she was adopted the day after I returned her. In my mind, I picture her with a happy family, curled up in their laps while they type around her, or chase her about their home.
I know that light cannot exist without dark, so it's important to embrace them both in your life.
But I also know that I'm not certain my heart can take another hole.
(At least, not yet.)
(This is my Day 5 contribution to the Your Turn Challenge. Read others' contributions and learn more here.)