Just A Boy and His Dog.

I’m selfish. Oh, I know I’ve sacrificed a lot and I’ve given a lot, and I’ve even sold a lot of my possessions (including my own home) in order to further the growth of our parish. I even lived in an RV for three years until we built the Friary-Rectory. But deep down, where I don’t let very many people in, I’m inherently selfish.

This past weekend, if you were at Mass, you would’ve heard me plead that somehow God would allow my best friend, Tucker, my 12-year-old Golden Retriever, to be around a little bit longer. He has lymphoma. I know there’s no cure intellectually, but in my heart, I pray every day for a miracle. I know Sean and Katelyn do, too. This past weekend he took so severely ill that he had to be rushed to the animal hospital and he remained there until yesterday afternoon. Literally thousands of dollars later he is back home and he’s doing OK for a dog as seriously ill. I know that part of me is grateful that I was willing to give so much to bring him back home and to afford him the chance at a longer life, as long as he is comfortable. And, I know that Sean and Katelyn agree that it was the right thing to do, but I also know in my heart that I’m simply being selfish; I wasn’t ready to let him go.

I think part of my anticipatory grief is that I am remembering my dad and those words now so famous from Nancy Reagan when she was bidding farewell to her husband, President Ronald Reagan. She called the process of dying to his disease, “The long goodbye”, and that’s where I am once again in my life: getting ready to say goodbye, again.

There is no easy way to deal with grief, and there’s certainly no easy way to let something you love, no matter how long you’ve had it, slip away into the vastness of what we do not know, but somehow I’ve taken comfort in the fact that knowing what I know today I still would not have changed one day with Tucker. He has been part of the journey of Saint Miriam from its very first day some 12 year ago. He was there through my brain tumor and recovery and when I lost my dad, it was Tucker – with his head on my lap – that grieved, too. Ironically the liturgy from this past Sunday where I found my solace, at least temporarily. When I found my heart breaking in all of the unknown of the crisis that we found ourselves in, it was the Sacramentary that reminded me that God is God, and I am not. It was in the simple words from the Opening Collect that read, “O God, who have prepared for those who love you, good things which no eye can see…which surpass every human desire.”

And so, here I am today, with my ‘best boy’ back at my side for as long as that very same God will allow, and I am grateful. I know that in my heart, I’m still very selfish, but I will continue to work on that sin until that day when I would join Tuck to wherever he is going, next to my dad, whom I miss so much today, too.

When Mass was ended this past week, I did what every priest does, I reverenced the altar with a kiss and as I turned to leave, I noted our Blessed Mother staring intently at me. I took one single flower from the vase in front of the altar and I went over to her, and I laid that flower at her feet and wept, I begged her for a little more time with him. I remember weeping in much the very same way as my dad was dying and the answer came just as quickly. Our Lady gave me a little more time and for that I am grateful, but because I am selfish it will never be enough; it never is.

The words of our catechism ring true that faith without works is dead. So in perhaps my humanness, and in my selfishness, I am broken, but in my displayed willingness to give without hesitation to God‘s holy Church, He gave me something that I cannot even imagine yet.

I wish each of you the same.
PS Lorraine set up a Go Fund Me to help us with the great expenses that we incurred. If your heart wishes to help, here is the link

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