She’s Home

She’s home. Yesterday Goalielocks picked up Athena’s remains from the funeral home. They did a beautiful job on her package just as they did on Maya’s package. Now Athena will join her sister in our bookshelf next to her sister. They’ll both be watching over us while we’re hanging out watching television or eating. Additionally, I’m buying a memorial stone for each puppy to put out front in the garden. I’m also going to add some orchids and a fountain, so it will be a beautiful peaceful space.

Last night we had a great dinner with my brothers’ families, less my younger bro who got stuck at work, in a Boca. It was an adventure getting out the door per usual. Three of us are ready to go waiting on Goalielocks. He then comes out the door flounces out the door angrily as if we had kept him waiting. As for the restaurant, this place has the best nachos in the world. Honestly, I don’t know why I order anything else because the nachos are so good. Of course, the company was just as good as the nachos. I realized this morning, however, that much to my mother’s chagrin, we neglected to get a picture of all of us together. Whoops! Hopefully, we’ll be able to see them again before they head North and Goalielocks heads to college.

We ate in Boca, so we ran into a people we knew. We saw the Berner’s from hockey, which was a nice treat. Additionally, the boys saw one of their favorite teachers from middle school. Consequently, the ride home was full over funny stories about that particular teacher, middle school and all of our school experiences. It was a really enjoyable ride home.

I started running again this week and boy am I tired. Fortunately, today was a cycling day, which is a much easier workout. Well, it may be an easier workouts but it’s not easy. Bakari, one of my favorite Apple fitness instructors, legit kicked my butt with his long as intervals today. While I was cycling over lunch, the hubby was enjoying a beautiful view of the water including two nice sized sharks. It’s a beautiful and overwhelming experience to see sharks live and in the wild. They’re such majestic animals that I would not want to share the water with.

Great Weekend

I had a great, albeit busy weekend. In fact, I left the house three days in a row, which has got to be a record. Friday night I went to dinner with our PanCan Affiliate chair Joelle, PanCan regional manager Kathleen, Rita (one of our amazing survivors), and her daughter Marni. Unfortunately, Addie, who is our community relationship manager from PanCan got sick and was unable to make it. We definitely missed Addie, who is a big reason for our affiliate’s success and a big reason I jumped on board. Dinner was fantastic. The company was great and a good time was had by all.

Saturday morning we got ready for our affiliate social event at Barrel Of Monks Brewery in Boca Raton. The brewery generously donated the space for our event. I love that the brewery is back in the middle of an industrial/office park. South Florida has a lot of hidden gems like this brewery. Despite its non-traditional location, the brewery was super easy to find and free parking was abundant. After breaking the bank on parking in Boston, I have a real appreciation for free and ample parking.

The event itself was great. We spent about an hour decorating the space before folks arrived, so it looked really nice for folks. I built a candy bar because they look pretty and I like candy. Thankfully, we had a really good turnout for the event. It was nice to see so many new faces come out to support the affiliate and celebrate our successes with them. Moreover, our affiliate is full of wonderful people that love and support each other. I’m sure you can see from the pictures that this group is extraordinary. It’s nice to have an added layer of support as one navigates the grief pancreatic cancer has caused.

Unfortunately, Addie wasn’t able to make the social on Saturday either. We missed her dearly. Despite being terribly sick, she still sent her boss with a beautiful gift for me. Let me tell you, Addie is so thoughtful and kind. She gifted me a framed tribute to Athena. It’s so special. Joelle, our amazing affiliate chair, also gifted me a beautiful orchid in remembrance of Athena. Their kindness and thoughtfulness meant so much at the end of a very difficult week for me. Both items now grace my desk where they won’t gather any dust.

After the event, I chilled at home and we watched a movie. Sunday morning was relaxing as well. I baked bread and ran in the morning. At night, the Mayor had a Wolf Pack 4 vs. 4 tournament that we went to watch. We’ve done countless 4 v 4 tournaments over the years. Most of them are pure shit. One team, usually the tournament organizer’s favorites, blows out everyone else. It’s just not fun. In contrast, South Florida Wolfpack does a great job of creating teams with parity in mind. Literally, any team could win and every game could go either way. Consequently, I think it’s a better experience for both players and parents.

Purple Weekend

I’m so excited about my purple weekend. Our community relationship manager from PanCan is in town, our dearest Addie, so we’re having a couple of fun events. Tonight we’re doing dinner with some of our top captains and affiliate leadership. Tomorrow, we’re hosting an amazing social event at a local brewery for our affiliate. We’ve had a lot of RSVPs for the event, which is exciting.

My purple weekend will be the perfect way to honor Athena’s memory and distract myself. I’m really looking forward to spending time with my purple family. After the events, I have a lot of stuff to get done around the house. Unfortunately, while Athena was ill, we got very little done. The house work has piled up. The disorganization in my room is exacerbating my neuroses. One thing I won’t have to do is sweep now that I got my new Roombas working.

Write about a random act of kindness you’ve done for someone.

A couple of months ago, the Mayor and I were at Sprouts picking up some groceries. When we were in line at the checkout an old man lined up behind us. He was in a boot. I had to wear a boot for nearly four months, so I know how much it sucks. The gentleman was just picking up a few items. While the cashier rang up our items, he ran to the bathroom. Consequently, I asked the cashier to add his things to my bill. This way he’d come out of the bathroom and his groceries would be bagged and paid for. Obviously, we didn’t stick around to see his reaction, but I hope it made his day brighter.

I have been on the receiving end of random acts of kindness. When we were on the shuttle bus to pick up our rental in Boston, it was late and I was a hot mess. I cried most of the flight up to Boston knowing our time with Athena was short. I’m sure the Prosecco didn’t help. It was well after midnight and I’m feeling gross. At the stop before ours, the train station, a young family gets up to get off the shuttle. As they departed, their oldest daughter stopped to tell me I was pretty. It was one of the sweetest things someone had ever said to me. I certainly wasn’t feeling pretty and was feeling pretty low, her kindness put a smile on my face and warmed my heart.

I shared the story of the Bostonian, who on his lunch, re-calibrated and set up my EV rental to make it easy for me to drive. His kindness will stick with me always. On Tuesday when we carried Athena’s remains out to the truck, an older couple had pulled up to the vet’s office. When they exited their car with their sweet dog, they were crying for our loss. They both expressed their condolences and the husband gave me the nicest hug. Their compassion and kindness meant so much to me. It was a beacon of light during a very dark hour.

I guess the point in sharing these stories is that we have a choice. We can choose to be assholes and put negative energy out into the universe. Or we can choose to be a light. Random acts of kindness make a huge difference in a person’s day. A compliment may seem small to you, but to the recipient, it could mean the world. You don’t know where people are in their journey. Try to leave them better off than they are before your interaction.

Thank You

I wanted to say thank you, to all our friends, families, and readers, for the kind words of love and sympathy we have received since Athena’s passing. Losing a beloved pet is a heartbreak that many of us have experienced. I’m touched by the outpouring of love. Grief is a crazy beast. I know Athena’s passing may have brought back memories of pets that have gone before her.

Even before her passing, I was struggling with how to effectively honor her memory. I’m going to buy a stuff version of Athena and Maya for the family and for our puppies. Athena came into our life via an animal rescue event at PetSmart. If it wasn’t for the incredible folks that volunteer at these rescues, we would not have had any of our dogs. All four of our dogs came from rescue organizations in South Florida. In her honor, we’ll be making a donation to Justin Bartlett Animal Rescue, which is where we adopted both Anakin and Arrow.

The rescues in South Florida are full. In fact, two local shelters waived their adoption fees in July to help clear the shelters. Nonetheless, there are still many animals that need a home. A shelter is a much better place to be that the streets, but like a hostel it’s meant to be temporary. If now isn’t the right time to adopt, there are other ways to support the animals like donating money, items, and time. For local kids needing volunteer hours, Justin Bartlett is a great place to volunteer.

Thank you again for all the kind messages, texts, and phone calls. Your love and support have helped carry us through this difficult time. Now I’m off to make the second part of my liquid lunch.

Next Day

It’s the next day and the loss of Athena has started to sink in. I’m so sad. I know, however, we had to say goodbye to her, and am relieved that she’s no longer suffering. Her eyes and skin had become so jaundiced and her eyes had lost their twinkle. Athena had eyes that could convince you to give her whatever she wanted. They were full of love, life, and manipulation. I certainly couldn’t tell her no. As for yesterday, I had mixed feelings about it. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel watching her being put to sleep. In the end, it was a relief that she was free of pain instantly.

She wasn’t your average dog and certainly deserved more than the eight years she was granted. I know we’re not the first to lose our dog (or animal) and feel this way. So many of the people I love have experienced the loss of their beloved pet, which is a total gut punch. I wish our dogs could live as long as we do. I would have loved to have Athena by my side for the rest of my life. It’s almost cruel that we get to share the earth with them for such a short time.

I didn’t grow up with dogs as my dad and brother were severely allergic. In fact, I grew up terrified of dogs particularly big dogs. My neighbors at our first house had a big, black lab that I found particularly scary. I even had a policy against dogs that could eat me like Rottweilers and pit bulls. Consequently, it’s a little ironic that as an adult I’ve had four large dogs including two black lab mixes and two terrier mixes. Maya helped me overcome my lifelong fear of dogs. Maya and Athena both tuned me into a dog mom obsessed with her big dogs.

When we first adopted Athena, I had no clue she had any pit or terrier in her. I sent a picture to the family group text and my sister-in-law pointed out the pit. Naturally, I freaked out due to my policy against dogs that can eat me and ordered a DNA test. Turns out Athena was fifty percent American Staffy with the other half being lab, boxer, and beagle. Or as the Mayor said, “Our dog is a bagel!?!?” What I learned throughout my eight years with Athena is that the breed I feared most made the best family dog we’ll ever have. She was the kindest, highest emotional intelligence, most gentle, loyal, and protective dog you’d ever meet. She was never inappropriately protective (I’m looking at you Anakin.) Athena would only become protective when someone in our family was threatened.

So here I am the next day missing my sweet angels. Maya and Athena brought us more joy than they could ever know. They opened a world to me that I didn’t think I could exist in. Now I can’t see myself living without a canine companion. At home, Anakin is grieving his loss. He’s been carrying around her blanket and his duck with impunity today. Athena and Anakin had a very special relationship. She was an instrumental part of Anakin’s life. It will take him some time to heal.

Good night Sweet Athena

Good night sweet Athena, you were the best dog a family could ask for. It was unbelievably hard to say goodbye to you today, but it would have been selfish to let you suffer. I hope you’re in heaven running laps with Maya free from the pain of cancer and safe in the knowledge that your family loves you unconditionally forever and always.

We brought her to the vet after celebrating Taco Tuesday with her. Athena enjoyed her taco even if she couldn’t finish it. We brought her blankets and her brother’s favorite ducks to the vet with us. I confiscated Anakin’s duck, so she could have it with her and have his smell with her at the end. The whole day felt surreal like a movie. I can’t believe we had to say goodbye to her so soon.

In memory of Athena, here are a couple of beautiful poems:

Four Feet by Rudyard Kipling

I have done mostly what most men do,
And pushed it out of my mind;
But I can’t forget, if I wanted to,
Four-Feet trotting behind.

Day after day, the whole day through —
Wherever my road inclined —
Four-feet said, “I am coming with you!”
And trotted along behind.

Now I must go by some other round, —
Which I shall never find —
Somewhere that does not carry the sound
Of Four-Feet trotting behind.

A Good Dog Never Dies – Anonymous

A good dog never dies, he always stays,
he walks besides you on crisp autumn days
when frost is on the fields and winter’s drawing near, his head within our hand in his old way.

Treasured Friend – Anonymous

I lost a treasured friend today
The little dog who used to lay
Her gentle head upon my knee
And shared her silent thoughts with me.

She’ll come no longer to my call
Retrieve no more her favourite ball
A voice far greater than my own
Has called her to his golden throne.

Although my eyes are filled with tears
I thank him for the happy years
He let her spend down here with me
And for her love and loyalty.

When it is time for me to go
And join her there, this much I know
I shall not fear the transient dark
For she will greet me with a bark

Fifteen Days

In only fifteen days, we’ll be headed West to visit our airman. I’m absolutely so excited to see my boy. It will also be nice to have time off and spend it with all four of my boys. Moreover, my parents and Melly will be joining us, which is great. Since Covid started, we’ve been unable to see my parents in person.

I booked an amazing AirBnB, a cabin, at the base of a mountain. It’s a gorgeous property with a great hot tub and a trail access in the backyard. I can’t wait to hike the mountains again. Naturally, it’s going to be tough since I haven’t been able to run since July. However, the weather should be a lot nicer than the last time we were there.

We’re all adjusting to Maya’s absence and it hasn’t been easy. So far we’ve left her crate set up as it was before we lost her. Since Maya passed, we decided to try keeping Athena at night. Previously, we crated both Athena and Maya because they tended to have accidents at night. Although Goalielocks tried it one night to see how they would fair. It went well until Maya peed right next to his head just after dawn.

Night one with Athena sleeping out ended with me stepping on a piece of poop. Now that was fun. Last night I discovered Athena peed on the carpet in our bedroom hallway while walking to the bathroom. Fortunately, we got a new carpet cleaner, which made it easy to clean up Athena’s mess.

The bigger mystery, however, is what happened to my pink hoody. I left it next to the bed last night before I fell asleep. This morning when I awoke it was missing. In fact, I have yet to find said hoody. To make matters worse, my new hoody now has a hole in it. Interestingly enough the size of the hole corresponds perfectly with the size of our puppies’ mouths. Apparently, they were quite naughty last night.

I really miss my sweet Maya girl. It still doesn’t feel real. One of the best parts of working from home is getting to spend everyday with my puppies. They truly are the best co-workers. Anakin and Maya would always lay near me in my office, while Athena would sit on the couch. Now both Anakin and Athena lay near me while I work. At any rate, the countdown is on! Fifteen Days until I see my boy!

Here’s a list of our day’s activities:

*I’m reading Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel.

*I still can’t run because my toe. I’ll be unable to run for at least four weeks. It’s now been two weeks since I broke it. Honestly, I’m going to try running on it on Sunday.

*We’re tracking the Tropics here in Florida. Fortunately, it looks like none of these waves will be impacting Florida.

*Uber Eats delivered my coffee for me today and will do so until we get another vehicle. 

*For dinner, I made chicken, black beans and rice for the Mayor and I. Goalielocks and Coach Hubby are in Miami for hockey practice tonight.

*The word of the day is ping pong. Maya’s passing has my emotions ping ponging all over the place.

*I took my puppies including sweet Anakin for a. I put on his harness every morning. Otherwise, I have difficulty controlling him on the leash. He’s incredible strong and can pull me off balance, which is why I’m now wearing a boot to protect my poor broken toe.

Goodnight and Goodbye

Early Tuesday morning we said goodnight and goodbye to our sweet Maya. Over the last two years, she had been on a roller coaster of health issues. Since June, however, she had rallied and was doing great until she wasn’t. On the drive up to Orlando, I told my hubby I didn’t think she had much time left. Recently, she had developed a new cough and incontinence.

On September 6, 2009 we brought home the most expensive fish I ever bought. We adopted her from the Humane Society after meeting her at the Petco in Boca. Their were several cute puppies, but she was by far the calmest of the bunch. Her calmness, patience and sweetness were remarkable traits that defined the her. In fact, she was incredibly patient with the boys, who could be quite annoying. Naturally, Anakin (her little bro) could arouse anger and some grimaces out of her,

Maya will always be the fog that changed me completely. Before we adopted Maya, I was absolutely terrified of dogs especially big dogs. I’ll never forget my older brother, upon learning we adopted her, asking me if i forgot that i was afraid of dogs. Nevertheless, my sweet Maya quickly won me over completely. Incredibly, I went from being afraid of dogs to being obsessed with them.

We dropped off her remains late Tuesday morning at a pet mortuary for cremation. Initially, the Hubby was going to dig a hole out near the mango tree. However, we ultimately decided against it. Honestly, I want to be able to take her with us when we sell the house. The mortuary will take a paw print for us as well as out some of her hair in vial. They’ll put her ashes in a beautiful wooden box that we can display. Meanwhile, we’ll continue grieving as we say goodbye and goodnight to our Sweet Maya.


Loss seems to be the overwhelming theme of 2020 and 2021. Life naturally brings us life as we age and the people we love age with us. It sucks but it’s reality. The past eighteen months, however, has presented us with loss on a scale we’re not accustomed to. Just this week, we have lost two hockey dads to COVID. Men that were far too young to leave this earth.

It’s, of course, a lot easier for us as adults to process these losses. Which is to say it’s not easy, but we’re better equipped than our kids to handle and process the grief. For our kids, it’s not just the loss of their friend’s parent they’re trying to process, but the possibility that they could lose their parents to Covid. To a kid of any age, this is terrifying.

The sense of loss, the fear of loss remains omni present even as we’re eighteen months into this thing. Honestly, it’s exhausting. Nonetheless, you have to live your life and move forward. The boys being back in school is an important step in moving forward. Moreover, hockey has been an integral part of keeping them socially engaged and active. During this difficult time, exercise be it hockey, running or lifting weights is an easy way to help cope during this period.

In other news, it’s only Tuesday. Truly, it feels like it should be Saturday already. This week is dragging. Fortunately, I had a much better day at work today. Thank God. They say laughter is the best medicine and I wholeheartedly agree, so I’ll leave you with this.

Here’s a list of our day’s activities:

*I’m reading Far From the Madding Crowdby Thomas Hardy. At first I wasn’t sure about the book, but now I like it. Albeit some of the plot twists have left me aghast.

*I ran a mile and a half. It in many ways sucked. Especially since it’s my first run post leg day in over two months. Leg day yesterday killed me!

*We’re tracking the Tropics here in Florida. The tropics are heating up again with three areas of concern. Fortunately, all the tropical weather is moving away from us! Unfortunately, the heat has really cranked up due to the Saharan dust cloud overhead.

*Since Goalielocks is home sick, I drove to pick up my coffee this morning. Fortunately, Goalielocks’ Covid test came back negative! Thank God!

* Every day I watch the live Safaris on YouTube, I’m inspired. I never thought I’d be one for a safari, but the views and the animals are incredible. It’s now on my bucket list. Today was a banner day. I always love watching the young elephants or lions playing. They’re so cute!

*For dinner, I made home made meatballs and spaghetti. Tonight we tried Michael’s from Brooklyn’s tomato basil sauce. It was super yummy. As a family, we’re trying all the top jarred spaghetti sauce. The Mayor and I love spaghetti, so I thought it would be a fun activity for us.

*The word of the day and it is kakorrhaphiophobia, which means and abnormal fear of failure. I think a lot of have a fear of failure, but for most it’s not a paralyzing fear.

*I took my puppies including sweet Anakin for a. I put on his harness every morning. Otherwise, I have difficulty controlling him on the leash. He’s incredible strong and can pull me off balance.

A Life Well-Lived

“A life well-lived is the most exquisite form of art,” wrote Erwin McManus. This weekend my family lost our matriarch, my great Grandmother. As I contemplated her passing, I kept coming back to a life well-lived. Her life, while never easy, exemplified this axiom. My great grandmother Nellie Brown (nee Reynolds) and her twin sister Zella (Caroyln) were born on May 16, 1916, in Long Prairie to Florence and Andrew Reynolds. At this point, there were only 3.3 million cars registered in the entire US while only 11% of the population had a telephone. When she was just a toddler, the Great War was winding down, but the Spanish Flu epidemic was in full swing. She began her life as the Spanish flu pandemic took hold and her life ended as we continue to contend with COVID. Can you imagine how different the world is now compared to 1916?

Great Grandma Brown, her sister Zella and her mom circa 1920

Shortly after my grandmother’s birth, her father headed to Europe to fight in the Great War. After the war, her father left and her mother remarried. She grew up in Long Prairie, where she met her husband. In fact, she was telling Jake and me tales of watching Lindy practice while tending to the fields. In fact, they would wave as he flew over and he would tip his wings to them. Of course, Lindy was Charles Lindbergh and this was long before his famous flight across the Atlantic in the Spirit of St. Louis. As we drove back to my folks that day, Jake and I were trying to wrap our heads around the massive changes she witnessed in her 104 years. I would give anything to be able to sit with her again and listen to her stories.

One thing that was clear about my Grandmother is that change didn’t challenge her. Her generation was no stranger to loss having experienced both World Wars, the Spanish flu, the great depression, polio, the Korean and Vietnam wars. Perhaps that is why she was so adaptable and resilient. In fact, as the age of the internet broke, she didn’t run from it. She had an old computer that she used until she lost her eyesight. How many people can say they got emails and forwards from their Great Grandma? Not many, but I can. Undoubtedly, her adaptability and great genes played a role in her longevity, but it was more than that.

My Great Grandma lived her life according to three pillars: love, family, and God. As she held Jake’s hand that blustery October day, she shared the importance of rooting himself in love, family and God. I was struck at the moment by the power of her words, influence, and the moment. I was blessed to witness that moment. On that trip, she and Jake formed a deep bond that he’ll carry with him forever. We spent many weekends at my Great Grandmother’s house with our extended family. Our extended family is huge! Yet, she delighted in hosting all of us. Family really was everything to her. After my grandfather lost his mother to cancer in the mid 50’s, my great-grandma treated him as if he was her own child. She loved my Grandpa dearly.

She lived independently in her own house until the very end. After she suffered a stroke two weeks ago, my grandma and aunt stayed by her side. My heart aches for my Grandma, who just lost her mom. I took a picture of them together during our last visit. When I look at that picture, I realize no matter how old we get, we always want and need our mother. My Great Grandma was a woman, who lived according to her own terms. It is no wonder that she left this world exactly as she lived in it surrounded by love and family. Until we meet again Great Great Grandma, godspeed.

Nellie Brown 5/16/1916-1/30/2021