Room on the Boat

One year ago we brought this puppy home.

Her mother—a stray Lab —had birthed her babies on the side of a freeway and hidden them in nearby bushes. After they were rescued and settled in a foster home, we met the litter and fell for Zoe. She was too young to be adopted, so we had to wait to bring her home.

Our family spent that time falling more in love with her. We gushed over pictures we’d taken, and Zoe’s foster mom sent us videos of her with her siblings. For one long month, we prepared for her arrival like she was already a part of our pack.

Zoe, on the other hand, had no idea we existed.

The day we brought her home, she was understandably nervous. She wanted to be okay, but I could tell from her grunts and whimpers she wasn’t sure.

After all, she’d been taken from everything she remembered. And she didn’t remember us. As much as we adored Zoe, to her we were strangers in a strange land.

She had no reason to believe in our goodness.

So we just loved and loved and loved her.

Eventually, she began to trust us, and settle into her unfamiliar world. Things were weird, unsettled and scary. She had to adapt or stay afraid.

I can’t help noticing the parallels in our world right now.

In many ways we’re all strangers in a strange land.

(Hey, Global Pandemic. I’m looking at you!)

For many of us, the future feels like a complete unknown. Some are worried things will never change. Others are worried they already have.

(For the record, I realize some crises won’t be solved by optimism. Systemic injustice requires real action. That’s a different blog post.)

But in the face of so much uncertainty, it’s easy to sink into despair. To latch onto fear as a safer choice than hope.

A lot of us are in Zoe’s old boat right now. Adrift and crowded. Terrified to capsize.

Maybe you already feel like you’re under water.

Maybe it helps to know you’re not alone. Maybe your heart finds peace in shared circumstance. As for me, I’m choosing to believe there’s goodness out there that’s bigger than I know.

This may sound corny, but allow me to suggest that you are loved for sure. By a family member. By a friend. By me.

Yes, even if we’ve never met, if you’re reading this, I care. And I’m so glad that you’re here.

(For the record, this is as close as I get to anything religious or spiritual.)

Sure life is different than we expected and nothing we’re prepared for. But I want to trust that we’ll get where we’re supposed to go if we all keep moving forward.

I believe there’s space on the boat for everyone.

We just have to make room.

I took this on March 10th. Five months later, I’m still hoping.


You can find my novels here: Forgetting Ophelia, Letters for Scarlet, Guest List, and Lily by Any other Name:  Amazon or Kobo or iTunes or Barnes &Noble.

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12 thoughts on “Room on the Boat

  1. Kay Moir

    Your heart is bigger than any boat Julie ❤
    Stay safe x

    • Thank you, Kay. Our friendship is evidence of unseen goodness all its own. You’re simply wonderful!

  2. Bailey

    Zoe looks so sweet! I feel more uncertainty now than a few months ago as we near the return to school. Thank you for this.

    • I can only imagine — my heart goes out to everyone parenting younger children right now, and to our teachers and administrators. To the people making decisions about schools. It’s so hard. Hang in there and have hope.

  3. Diane McEvoy

    …and somehow Zoe knows when a friend needs her to come near and lend a paw. She and you are the best!

    • Zoe and I love you. We all do!

  4. Deidre

    Traveling through the Mojave Desert right now, heading home after a 10 day road trip to Colorado. Your post made my heart happy. I want to hug Zoe and say, “You’ll be just fine , sweet puppy.” We all will.
    Thanks, Julie ❤️❤️

    • Julie Gardner

      This made my day, Deidre, so thank you. And yes, we will all be fine. XO

  5. We’re living in hope too, appreciating the blessings that we still have and the ones that just made themselves available with all this extra time we’ve been given to be together. We too just got back from a 9-day camping trip that we wouldn’t have been otherwise able to do with sports etc. Thank you for your optimism!

    • Julie Gardner

      Love you, Rina. I know these times have been SO DIFFERENT from what you expected and what you worked for, but you are still making things happen and making memories with your family. Looking forward to catching up with you when we can. XO

  6. I stopped for the puppy. And after reading the full post, all I felt now is pure love for everything. May the world be healthy again.
    … Oh I forgot it’s only us. Nature is punishing us everything else is normal. May we find peace and love.

  7. Diane McEvoy

    …and I love that she recognizes the sound of my car when I pull up to go for a walk with the two of you!

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