Thursday, October 27, 2011

Christmas morning, 1998 was the best Christmas ever. I remember it had snowed the night before, and I was So excited I could barely sleep. It was our first Christmas in America. It felt foreign and different that we hadn't gotten to see farmor this year like every other year in Sweden, but we had my dad home, which we didn't often at Christmas. We were finally starting to settle into school and life in America, but it was hard. Really hard.

We opened all of our presents, except for the two biggest ones. Those mom and dad said we had to save for last. One was to me and one to camilla. Mine was the biggest. Obviously that meant it was the best.

We opened up the presents at the same time ( another rule from mom and dad) and as soon as I saw it, I just Knew. It took Camilla a second. On top of the kennels there was a note to go look out in the car. I was so busy opening up the present that I hadn't seen dad slip outside.

I opened the car today and there sitting on the front seat were two fuzzy puppies. The cutest puppies I'd ever seen in my life. I picked up the bigger one, the Golden Retriever. I had the bigger kennel so I knew he was mine. Camilla got a Cocker Spaniel.

I named him Teddy Bear (because that's exactly what he looked like, and I was 12 and not super original) and we were inseparable. He was supposed to sleep in the kennel, but every night after my mom had checked on us in our bedroom that we shared with Camilla and Sugar (the cocker spaniel) I would get him out of the kennel and bring him into bed with me.

He became my protector. Sometimes my mom would set up a gate to keep the dogs from the living room, and he never, ever would cross over it. Not even when we left the house for hours with a roast sitting on the table. We thought he couldn't get over- otherwise what dog would leave a delicious smelling roast sitting there on the table?

Once when the gate was up and he couldn't get to the living room, my brother tackled me (just messing around) and I shrieked. Teddy thought I was in trouble and jumped over that gate and a couch in half a second and had my brother by the sweatshirt ready to pull him off of me. Turns out he Could get over that gate, if given an incentive.

We were best friends. Even long after he grew out of his kennel, and we finally had our own room, he would start off the night sleeping in bed with me (taking up 2/3 of the bed) and I would lay smushed against the wall until he got hot and wanted to sleep on the cool floor. After Drew started sleeping over sometimes in college, this tradition was still the same. Drew had ZERO space while Teddy wanted on the bed- wasn't until Ted decided to hop off that I would give Drew some space. Teddy came first.

When my parents were in the middle of a divorce the summer I turned 16, he was there for me. I couldn't talk to my friends about it- they all had the perfect family life and not one of them had divorced parents. But Teddy, he just knew. He knew when I was feeling sad. He would come and lay his head down in my lap and just stare up at me with his big brown eyes. They say dogs don't like to look you in the eye? Well not Teddy. He had better eye contact than anyone I know.

To this day, whenever I go back to my moms where he has lived out in the country for the past 13 years,  even when his arthritis was bothering him, the second he saw me he would come running over. I would sit down on the porch, and he would put his head in my lap and we would just stare at each other.

I remember the day I left for college. The first time, in 7 years I'd left him for more than a week. I was distraught. I wanted him with me. I wasn't used to going to bed with out him. And I know how dumb this sounds, trust me I know, but he was the most loyal friend I've ever had.

Everyone that has come into his life, would tell me what a Special dog he was. How wise he was. He was seriously like a wise old mad with a heart of gold.

The day I brought Jasper home from the hospital, I held him up for Teddy to look at and smell. Know what he did? He refused to look at him. He turned his head away. The dog with the best eye contact I've ever encountered refused to look at this little person. I'm convinced it's because he knew I was no longer just his. He had to share me with this other little person know. And he was right. Told you he was wise. He eventually did warm up to him, and became Jasper's little protecter as well.

Yesterday my mom called me with the news that they needed to put him to sleep. He's slowly been getting worse, and I've been expecting this news for the last couple of years. Which is why every time I leave my moms house I make sure to take 5 minutes before we pull out of the drive way, giving him hugs and kisses and telling him what a good dog he is. I've been saying goodbye to Teddy for 3 years now. And I cry every time. I don't cry leaving my family and coming back to CO anymore. But Every time I say good bye to Teddy, I cry.

So while I wasn't there to get to say good bye, I did say good bye in October. I would have loved to see and say good bye to him again, but it would have been cruel to keep him in pain until December.

His ashes will be buried along side Sugar, his best friend who died of a seizure the day Jasper was born. In a spot over looking the creek he spent the last 13 years playing in. After Sugar was buried there, we were worried he would try to dig the grave up, but instead he would go lay there on top of the grave. I think he felt at peace there, and it gives me peace that he will be there with her.

I know with out a doubt I will never feel for another dog or animal the way I did for Teddy. I think after having kids you can't love an animal the same way. At least so far I haven't. We got Jasper a dog, Remi, but my love and energy goes toward Jasper, and while I love Rem it's nowhere near the same.And maybe that's a good thing, because the pain I feel right now? The sadness I feel? All the tears that I've shed for my beloved Teddy?  I don't think I have it in me to do again for another pet.

My heart is heavy right now, and sitting here in Starbucks I've started crying twice already just writing this. I can't fully understand yet that he's gone. That I'll never see him again. Never stare into his brown eyes. Never feel his head resting on my lap.

My cousin sent me this poem yesterday, and while yes, its' a bit corny, it did help me a bit, so if you have recently lost a pet that you loved deeply. I suggest reading this.

The Rainbow Bridge

inspired by a Norse legend

By the edge of a woods, at the foot of a hill,
Is a lush, green meadow where time stands still.
Where the friends of man and woman do run,
When their time on earth is over and done.
For here, between this world and the next,
Is a place where each beloved creature finds rest.
On this golden land, they wait and they play,
Till the Rainbow Bridge they cross over one day.
No more do they suffer, in pain or in sadness,
For here they are whole, their lives filled with gladness.
Their limbs are restored, their health renewed,
Their bodies have healed, with strength imbued.
They romp through the grass, without even a care,
Until one day they start, and sniff at the air.
All ears prick forward, eyes dart front and back,
Then all of a sudden, one breaks from the pack.
For just at that instant, their eyes have met;
Together again, both person and pet.
So they run to each other, these friends from long past,
The time of their parting is over at last.
The sadness they felt while they were apart,
Has turned into joy once more in each heart.
They embrace with a love that will last forever,
And then, side-by-side, they cross over… together.


  1. :( tears for Teddy Bear. I'm sad for your sadness and hope your heart heals knowing he had a wonderful, love-filled life.

  2. So sorry for your loss, Darlene! Losing a pet is so so hard, and Teddy sounds like an exceptionally special furry friend.