Bamse, English version

I woke up this morning with my son right beside me, pushing gently on my shoulder. With a big grin on his face, he squeaked out a cheery “Dad! Breakfast!” The dog was at his usual place at the foot of the bed and was snoring and relaxing in a fashion that only he can pull off. Before I even had time to swing my feet over the edge of the bed Z heard a sound by the door and his face lights up like the sun. “Mommy, Mommy is coming!”. Ida has been working all night for the first time in a while, which means that she comes home early in the morning. Both Z and Bamse bounced out of bed to greet her. She sounded really happy and while cuddling with Bamse she tried to communicate to the kid that he should perhaps put on some clothes so he could go to kindergarten.

When I swing my feet over the edge of the bed, I can see the sun shining outside. Damn, nice, and the thermometer indicated that it is above freezing. With a light touch of zombie-like movements, I shuffle along to brush my teeth and to climb into my clothes. The kid has already managed to get dressed with the help of Ida and was waiting by the door, bouncing up and down in his joyful desire to go to kindergarten. Bamse was also waiting by the door waiting to go with us, looking like an overgrown puppy when I showed him the leash. I barely had time to unlock the door before Z had opened it , and running down the stairs with the dog close at his heels. When I finally reach the bottom of the stairwell I can see  Z holding the door open  impatiently, waiting for his somewhat slow dad. “Dad come on! COME ON!”. He runs off like the little bundle of energy and joy that he is, with me and  Bamse happily walking after him in the sunlight. Before we have come even halfway there, Ida calls me up to remind me  that I forgot some things Z would need during the day. Things that may would be quite good to have when you are out playing in the snow for half a day. After some persuading, I get Z to turn around and go back, yet again with me and Bamse walking behind him, Bamse looking most pleased with that nice weather. I’ve never seen a dog that is as hateful against snow and wind as that dog.

Once we get back to the front door, Bamse just falls over and lies down on his side. He pees and is completely still. “Daaad! Look! Bamse peed! Look!”. Z is as always happy and very fascinated by all the strange things people and animals do. Right away I get the feeling that something isn’t right, and it becomes more evident when he did not react at all when I talk to him. He takes a few breaths, and before I even got down on my knees, he is gone. Dead.  The twinkle he had in his eye just a few seconds ago is gone, and he is completely still. Slightly shocked I open the door, and Z runs back in and up the stairs to Ida to retrieve his stuff, and I shout out to Ida that Bamse just died. Asking her to come down, and she doesn’t seem to believe me. Or maybe she just doesn’t understand. I probably don’t get it either. Not then. Not even now, I think. She comes down the stairs, and when she sees Bamse she suddenly understands. Shocked, sad and trying not to cry she sends me away to walk  Z to kindergarten, so she can call her brother and ask him to come over so we can borrow the car.

I reluctantly leave Ida with Bamse to walk Z to kindergarten. During the short walk, I try to explain to him what has happened. That our big, clumsy, cuddly and friendly dog is dead. That he won’t be around anymore to play and cuddle with us. Z looks up at me sadly with his big, brown eyes and says: “Bamse gone away? Bamse home later!”. It hurts so much I don’t know what to do with myself. Before I even have time to react, he smiles and gives me a hug. Looking at me, he says “Dad! Come on! Back to work! Home later!”. We keep walking, but I just feel empty and cold inside. Dropping him off, I warn the staff about what has happened just in case Z would become sad during the day. The walk home feels long even if it’s just a few minutes. When I get back, I see that Ida has managed to carry Bamse into the house.

When I finally get in, there’s nothing I can do but fall on my knees beside Ida and Bamse. I try to ask her about how things are going, but she’s on hold at the vets’ office. My wife has many good sides and many bad sides, but I don’t know of anyone who is more capable in a crisis. She hands me the phone and says “Can you do it? I don’t think I can handle it…”. I barely have time to grab the phone before all the sorrow and all the tears come flooding over me like a tidal wave. Tears streaming down my face and having a hard time breathing I feel grateful that I’m on hold for such a long time. Not something I feel all that often. Sitting there stroking Bamses head with one hand, and holding Idas hand with the other, I sniffle and cry the time away until they finally answer. Pushing the tears away, I manage to tell the vet what’s happened, and get an appointment there. When I hang up the phone, the tears come back.

I’m not sure how long we sat there stroking Bamse crying our eyes out, but when Idas brother finally got there, Ida called up kindergarten and told them we’d pick Z up so he could come and say goodbye with us.  She then left to get his favorite blankets. Of course those go with him. He’s earned that many times over. Me and her brother manage to lift Bamse in his legs and got him up into the car. So sad, so undignified, so heavy. Every pound his body weighs magnified ten times in the weight of the sadness pushing down on my shoulders. We place him on his favorite blanket. The red one, with fluff. We drape his body in another blanket, the one he loved to use as a pillow. Just because I know that he’s dead, gone, never coming back… doesn’t mean he can’t be comfortable. It’s illogical, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. The tears just won’t stop flowing, even though they are streaming down my face in silence for the moment.

I get into the backseat of the car, Ida in the front passenger seat with her brother driving. I’m only vaguely aware of that we stopped to pick up Z. During the entire trip I mostly stare out the window, holding his dog collar in my hand. My jacket is slowly getting soaked in my tears. To cry and mourn is a part of being human, but damn, I wish I could deal with it in another fashion.

Parking outside the vets’ office, I get out of the car and walk up to the reception desk. The room is empty aside from the woman behind the desk. She’s very friendly, and you can see it in her eyes that she understands how much it hurts even though I’m no longer crying openly. I’m not one to shy away from showing emotion openly, and I have no problem with crying in public… but when something must be done even though sadness is overwhelming, the tears get pushed away. She gives us directions on what to do and where to go, and I leave to move the car. Bamse is too heavy to carry over long distances.

With the car backed up and parked, the woman shows up with a stretcher. We lift Bamse down to it, and carry him into a small corridor where we place him on the floor. The lady leaves to fetch some papers that we need to fill in and while she’s doing that, Ida is trying to explain to Z what’s happened, trying to make him understand. I just sit down on a chair, sobbing wildly. Nothing in my head works anymore at this point, and the tears are just rolling down my face again. When the paperwork is filled out and we are due to leave, Ida asks Z if he wants to say goodbye. He grabs her hand and walks over to Bamse. He bends down, pets him twice, gives him a kiss and says: “Goodbye Bamse. Daddy’s very sad.”

My heart breaks.


2 Responses to “Bamse, English version”

  1. This is truly heart wrenching. I had to stop reading and come back to it because it reminded me so closely of when we lost our dog 4 years ago. My dad cried for days, and he never cries, ever. It’s interesting how your remember the little things about a day like that. Our dog, Jessy, she was fine and then one night she just started having seizures. The next day she didn’t recognise us and was completely out of it. By the time we got her to the Vet they suggested due to the length of her seizures (30 mins) and the number of them that she probably had irreparable brain damage and that we had to put her down. We had a heart breaking moment like yours with Z, as at the final moment when they injected her with the needle, Dad went up to her face to kiss her goodbye, and she had one last wag of her tail. Goodness, welling up even writing this!
    Thank you for sharing this though. It’s an impossible thing to go through, but it does get better.

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