Today Stefan was going to KTH in order to work on his homepage. A
few pages needed updating, he would add a couple of new pages and
maybe change the colouring for a few pages. He put down the material
he would need and a book to read on the train. The weather was fairly
mild. The warmest jacket would not be necessary.
Rasmus was with Husse in the garden. When he spotted Stefan, on his way to the train, he came running, wagging his tail enthusiastically and barking merrily. Stefan turned around and smiled at Rasmus. For a second he felt like running to Rasmus and greet him. But the train would not wait. He would greet Rasmus properly when he returned instead.
Rasmus was in the living-room. Like thousands of times before he felt such eagerness to scratch. Full of energy he started to scratch the carpet by the TV. Just like on the previous thousand occasions Matte and Husse told him to stop. He obeyed - eventually. Matte and Husse weren't too angry - who can be angry with a Dandie who looks at you with big, brown, innocent eyes and wags his tail?
Stefan was not at all pleased with the new page for his homepage. He did not get it to look the way he wanted. Suddenly he received a new email... from his friend André. André who's an expert of all things web-related. André was in the computer room "Africa". Stefan went there.
Rasmus walked into Stefan's room. Where was Stefan to be found? Thanks to his schedule during the autumn, Stefan had not been away from home more than four or five hours per day, and Rasmus and Stefan had been able to be together much more than before. As a result they were now even more inseparable than ever before. When Stefan came home in the afternoons there was lots of patting, affectionate licking of Stefan's hands and other manifestations of joy. This time, however, Rasmus could not find Stefan anywhere. He walked out into the kitchen and got Matte to share her orange.
Stefan was finally finished with the first of the two new pages. After a lot of ifs and buts and nos and yes and maybes he was at last, thanks to Andre's help, fairly pleased with what it looked like. He started to type the words for the other new page. The text was long - this would probably take a bit longer than expected...
As usual Rasmus' dinner contained too much dog food for his taste. Couldn't Husse and Matte give him entrecote, fillet of pork or chicken instead? Rasmus walked out to the stone floor in the lounge and laid down in order to have a short nap. It was now around half past five.
Stefan glanced at his watch. Ten past six! He had promised his parents to be back home long before six o'clock, in time for dinner. He looked at the paper with the text he was typing in on the homepage. He would need another 20 to 25 minutes to finish this. His parents did not like it when one was late for dinner, and he didn't have any phone card with him either. Sigh.
Stefan looked at his watch again as he walked the driveway leading to his house. Ten to eight! He put the key in the door but it was locked, from the inside, with a second lock. Something was wrong. His father opened the other door and said "Something sad has happened". Instinctively Stefan understood immediately. The thing that he had feared most of all had happened. "Rasmus has died" his father confirmed. Stefan felt a stab in his chest - as if someone had put a knife into him.
Rasmus was lying on the stone floor in the lounge, wrapped in a couple of blankets. Stefan's parents hadn't wished to move him until Stefan had had the opportunity to say goodbye. It looked very peaceful, as if Rasmus was only sleeping. Stefan kneeled and patted the dog who had given him unconditional and limitless love and friendship for more than 14 years. Who with his mere presence had been a source of encouragement in difficult moments. Who always sat by his feet during meals and with his pleading eyes always got Stefan to share. Who always came into his room in the mornings and woke him up with a merry bark. With whom Stefan had taken thousands of walks in all weathers through the years.
Stefan heard his parents talk to him, but he didn't understand what they were saying. Their words melted together, it felt as if the walls were spinning and as if his heart was digging its way out of his chest. This could not be true. It simply could not be true. But it was true.
The night was black. It was now past midnight. Stefan thought of Rasmus, of everything they had done together, of all Rasmus' mischiefs and activities, of how much Rasmus had meant to him and to the rest of the family. He remembered Rasmus' predecessor, Hampus, who had been diagnosed with a slipped disc and had started to suffer badly. Eventually, they hadn't had any options but to put Hampus to sleep at the vet's. The vet rooms which Stefan had felt to be so lifeless, sterile, callous and stressing. Rasmus had been spared any suffering, lived fully right to the end and passed away in his sleep, in his safe home where he had been so incredibly loved. Was there any dog who was more appreciated by his humans than Rasmus?
Stefan was sitting on the floor in his room, with his head phones on. He had started to buy records roughly at the same time as the family had bought Rasmus. Almost every time he had come home with a new record he had been greeted by Rasmus, always so happy when one came home. Music which could make one feel that no matter how black things were, no matter how downhearted one felt there was hope and one wasn't alone in having such situations. Now it felt as if the ground had disappeared beneath him. He thought that if Rasmus had been here he would have pressed up close against Stefan and licked his hand. Without Rasmus Stefan now felt the emptiness and the regret grow within him.
Stefan thought that they had given Rasmus as good a life as it was possible. He had been loved beyond all limits, always been looked after and taken care of and had had lots of fun in his life. Stefan thought that if Rasmus could come back and relive his life, he would do everything all over again - with joy.
Once more Stefan saw the image from the forenoon, when Rasmus had come running towards him, wagging his tail and barking merrily. That was really Rasmus. The loyal and affectionate and energetic and life-loving Rasmus. The best friend one could have.
The song in Stefan's head phones was both sad and uplifting at the same time. Stefan felt that he shouldn't mourn Rasmus' death but instead be happy that he had lived. The happy memories of Rasmus would always remain in his heart. Stefan pushed "Play" and listened to the song again - the song "Days" by The Kinks:
Thank you for the days
Those endless days
Those sacred days you gave me
I'm thinking of the days
I won't forget a single day, believe me
I bless the light
I bless the light that lights on you, believe me
And though you're gone
You're with me every single day, believe me
Days I'll remember all my life
Days when you can't see wrong from right
You took my life
But then I knew that very soon you'd leave me
But it's all right
Now I'm not frightened of this world, believe me
I wish today could be tomorrow
The night is dark, it just brings sorrow
Let it wait
Stefan Warnqvist, between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. on 12th January, 1998