We had a lot going on last weekend… we had a wedding to attend Saturday and then Sunday I had a table at the Akron-Canton Comic Con selling copies of Deus ex Comica alongside my friend and editor John, who was selling copies of his book (also expertly edited!), Collect All 21. So we didn't make it to Mass Sunday morning.
If you've read my book, you know the kiddo spends one week every summer at my parents' house in the same tradition that my sister and I spent a week at our dad's parents' house when we were kids. That week this year for the kiddo is this week.
So Thursday morning, the kiddo sees the story about Vinnie, our parish dog, passing away in the Akron Beacon Journal. He calls us from my parents' house crying, horribly upset over Vinnie dying. Just a heartbreaking moment as a parent. One of our two dogs had back surgery about five years ago, is getting old, moving slow, and growing blind. My wife and I have commented a lot over the last few months about how much of a downhill slide the dog seems to be on. Nothing bad enough to have to make the tough decision yet, but we know it is looming in front of us, so maybe it’s a good thing the kiddo’s going through these emotions now with Vinnie.
For a few years now, Father has been writing his pastor’s message in the weekly bulletin as a conversation between him and Vinnie. Sometimes I think the kiddo’s favorite part of Mass each week is reading the Vinnie story. Many were collected in book form a year or so ago, which I have really enjoyed revisiting. We celebrated the kiddo’s first communion this May, and he decided to spend part of his gift money on his own copy of Vinnie Here. So as he was crying into the phone, asking us to give extra hugs to our dogs from him while he's away at grandma and grandpa's and telling me he was going to be so sad because there wouldn’t be any more “Vinnie stories,” I reminded him that he had Vinnie’s book and he can read and reread all those stories as much as he wants.
A couple weeks ago, Vinnie was roaming church before nine o’clock Mass. The kiddo’s face lit up as Vinnie sided up to and poked his head into our pew. And there were lots of pets and wags and smiles. I’m glad we got to see Vinnie that morning. Those personal greetings always meant so much, and that recent one makes his passing seem a little easier for all of us to take now.