Category Archives: family

Letting Go – RIP, Charlie

My Mother posted this gem on Facebook the other day:

Decisions

It struck a chord with me in so many ways. It could sum up the last two years of my life, and it could sum up a very difficult decision I’ve recently made.

The decision means my house will be a bit quieter tomorrow. It will be a little less rambunctious. I won’t be getting barked at. Literally.

Not because my boys are heading to their Father’s house for the weekend, which is usually the reason – but because we’ve been faced with letting go of a beloved family member, our beagle Charlie. He’s getting old, and he’s in pain and he could probably go on living and trying – but it would be difficult for him.

Choosing to put a dog down is never an easy decision. Well, actually, sometimes it is much easier than others – like when Charlie’s little Beagle brother, Buster, died. He had cancer, and despite months of therapies and thousands of dollars spent trying to “save” him from his incurable disease, in the end it was very clear he had to go. Like, right that minute. I drove to an emergency vet at 1:00 in the morning, crying my eyes out while on the phone with my then-husband, who was on a business trip in Israel. He kept me coherent enough through the tears to drive, and he helped talk me through the first-time feeling of delivering a beloved pet to his death. I didn’t expect it to overwhelm me the way that it did. I held Buster as he died and I couldn’t help but tell him how sorry I was over and over.

But Charlie’s death is much bigger, much harder. And the decision to put him down – much more significant.

This isn’t just any dog. And the timing of his death is not insignificant.

You may be thinking, “Everyone says that,” when their furry friends are leaving us. But no, truly, this isn’t any dog, and this isn’t just any ordinary circumstance.

You see, Charlie represents more than just the end of his own life. It’s as though he is a much larger symbol of not only a life ending, but a life chapter that’s closing for me.

My husband proposed with Charlie. We named him “Charlie’s Diamond Surprise” on his AKC registration papers.

He was a part of our wedding.photo2

He walked all the way from the Boston Common through Downtown Crossing to the Seaport every single day for about 1.5 years to go to work at the startup my husband founded. I even pitched a story about them and got it placed in Network World, featuring them both.

nww

He was our “first son” and I remember missing him on our Honeymoon.

We’ve been going through a very tough divorce for almost two years now.

We’re at the end, and the papers are are about to be signed.

And it’s a sad, sad, circumstance…. like making the heartbreaking decision to put Charlie out of his pain. Like being strong enough to recognize when it’s over. Like having a very difficult epiphany and making a choice – one that not everyone will agree with or understand – to realize things will be better if you only let go. You’ve tried long enough. It’s time to let go.

Charlie represents everything our marriage was. In the beginning it was hopeful, vibrant, a bit naïve, definitely rambunctious and energetic. Goofy. Appreciative. Then came things that took our attention away, less time together, the addition of little ones (in Charlie’s case, a baby beagle brother who sat on him all the time for some reason, and a Chihuahua sister who adored him), and new responsibilities. Moves and new jobs and changes that the years bring. We slowed down, we got tired…

So putting this dog down feels a little like my own death. It’s letting go of so much more than him.

I could go on forever with stories. But I’ll just share a few more photos at the end here.

I want to thank my friends who gave me advice on when to tell my boys. I gave them the chance to say goodbye tonight, and we had a good cry. Then we had some laughs making Charlie a “last meal,” which consisted of a LOT of kibble, some chicken and his favorite, carrots. My 7-year-old wrote him a note (OMG, so adorable) and my oldest son chose a few things to bury him with when we get his ashes back. We’re going to lay him to rest next to Buster ‘s ashes somewhere in our yard.

We’ll cry. We’ll mourn. And we’ll find reasons to laugh amongst the tears – and we’ll talk about what a crazy dog Buster was and a good, loyal, faithful companion Charlie was.

And life will go on.

RIP, Charlie. I love you.

puppy

stickphotophoto4

LostKidz – Free App to Help Find a Missing Child – Maybe Even Yours

I originally posted this on my Working Mother Magazine blog. I’ve reposted here because I truly believe in spreading the word to help children stay safe. Thanks for reading!

A few weeks ago while my family and I were enjoying an afternoon on the beach, we saw a man frantically running down the sand screaming a boy’s name over and over. The scene was right out of a movie – the sound of the sand and surf were too loud for anyone to actually understand what he was saying. People watched in curiosity as he ran through the crowds, but no one stood up or stopped to ask him what he needed. We thought it looked like he lost something, but we weren’t sure what… Until we saw a child walk over the sand dune towards him – and the father bolted to him, scooped him up and hugged him tight. It was obvious that the boy had been lost – if only for a few moments.

If you too have ever had that moment of turning around while in a public place and not knowing where your child is, you have a taste of what it’s like to lose a child. Hopefully for most of us, the panic lasts no longer than a moment or two as we quickly realize the child was just hiding around a corner or innocently wandered off out of naïve curiosity. But for some less fortunate, a missing child becomes a lifelong story of heartache, wonder and fearing the worst.

ImageToday, a new app was launched that aims to help solve missing child cases quickly and accurately. Through crowdsourcing and leveraging the community around us, LostKidz, an emergency mobile alert system, aims to help locate a child gone missing via immediate notification to other users of the application. Parents download the app and fill in details – the information is for use only in an emergency situation. When a child is lost, parents can send an alert out with details like the lost vicinity, what the child was wearing, etc. The app continues to send alerts – which cover a wider radius as more time passes – until the child is found and the alert is no longer needed.

Obviously, the premise is that the more app users, the better the results. We can only be as successful as the community who uses the app. By having friends, family and neighbors download the app, an instant community of help is built that can immediately activate in the event that your child ever goes missing. More missing child cases than not involve someone who knew the child (only 25% of abducted children are taken by strangers, according to KidsHealth.org) or who was seen in the area – so it makes sense that an immediate activation system that reaches anyone with a smartphone can be more helpful than traditional methods of communication.

The LostKidz app is free to download and receive alerts and $0.99 for an annual subscription to send alerts. Please check it out, encourage those you know to download it and hopefully, none of us will ever have to pay the $0.99. Of course, you’re probably wondering about security, how predators might try to use the app and more – here’s a link to those and other FAQs from the company, and a great video over at Mashable that further explains the benefits.

 * Full disclosure, I sit on the Board of Advisors for LostKidz – because as a mother of two wonderful boys, I am more than happy to support and promote anything that helps keep our children safer.

Mother’s Day: Having a Mom, Being a Mom

Happy Mother’s Day! I didn’t want to write something political or overly dramatic, too feminist or sappy. But I did want to lament on the best things I’ve learned about having a Mom and being a Mom.

Thank you to my Mom, Robin, for the many great lessons she’s taught me in 41 years of life. I’m still learning – because she’s still learning! Some lessons were taught on purpose and some – maybe the most poignant – were inadvertently taught through her own life experiences. Sometimes you don’t learn these types of things until you’re older and you look back with a more understanding viewpoint. It’s why this is one of my favorite quotes:

“When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.” (Attributed by Reader’s Digest, Sept. 1937)

Some of the greatest things my Mother has taught me include:

Always try new things (Like last summer when she, at the age of 65 and after double hip surgeries, got up on my standup paddle board!)

Food is good (I’m so grateful I had a beautiful mother who, by the grace of her own interests, taught me the opposite of what all those beauty magazines and ads shove down girls’ throats)

– Sometimes you just have to put yourself first, even when it’s uncomfortable. And it’s OK. (This is one of those inadvertent lessons…)

Don’t judge others, just accept them. We are all on our own paths.

 

Thanks Mom!

On the flip side, and it bears repeating, being a mother has also taught me a lot. And I know I have many more lessons coming. But some of the best things my sons have taught me are:

Patience beyond what I previously understood to be patience

Humor (Lighten up, Mom!)

Live in the moment (I know, I’ve said it before but it is so true – the moment passes and you can’t get it back)

Teamwork (Yes, okay, I knew this one – but the past year, as we adjusted to a new family dynamic, we’ve become quite a team)

– Sometimes, you’ve just got to eat a donut.

Thanks to my Mom and my boys for making Mother’s Day special for me. I hope if you’re a mother, that today reminds you of how blessed you are to have that life experience. It is an ongoing lesson in itself, if you’re willing to recognize it as such.

Happy Mother’s Day and Huge Thanks to My Mom!

This video is for my Mom. I don’t think it needs a lot of words… but if I were to add some, they’d be along these lines: Thanks for teaching me to be tough and tenacious. To have a sense of humor – and great appreciation for one. For making me stand on my own when I just wanted to hide under the covers (or behind your skirt, as a child). Thank you for giving me an appreciation for the outdoors, even against my will. Thank you for teaching me to be open-minded and honest, and for teaching me the power of forgiveness and acceptance.

Thank you for being honest with me, and teaching me honesty. Thank you for not painting my world with a bunch of flowers all the time – that’s not reality…. and it made me more prepared for life. Thank you for giving me an appreciation for the good things in life: great food, wine, art, nature, love. And for teaching me that those good things can overcome the bad.

Thank you for working so hard to make our family whole. Thank you for hosting Christmas for oh, at least 40 some years. 🙂 Thank you for teaching me how to stay strong in tough times and giving me a sense of stubbornness that has served me well. And, that although life is far from perfect, there are amazing things that can happen every day.

I hope I can teach my kids all the wonderful things you’ve shared with me – and be at least as good a mother as you are. I love you.

Snow Day

I had an amazing weekend enjoying the snow that’s been falling for days. Snow is one of those things that you have to take advantage of while you can, so for three days I bundled up with the boys and got out to play. What a great way to usher in a New Year – with reminders to laugh more, remember what’s most important and take advantage of opportunities to play with your children when you can.

Click on the Whrrl story for more.

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Thank you, Veterans. Thank you, Ken.

This is me with my two brothers. On the right is my brother Ken. We were in NYC to visit my other brother, Brian on the left – right before Ken was deployed to Iraq. I’m happy to say that he served his time (that time around) and made it home safely, although his life had certainly changed dramatically.Today, and every day, I owe him a huge amount of thanks for the sacrifices he’s made as a military man. The things that he’s had to face in his life – and in two wars – are beyond my comprehension. Both personally and professionally, he has always been one of the most dedicated and honorable people I have ever known.

If you know a Veteran be sure to send her or him a note of personal thanks today. The efforts and sacrifices they give in fighting for us go far beyond the obvious – and stay with them for a lifetime.

Thank you, Ken.