ME: You should go to sleep, Nick. It’s late.
NICK: I can’t sleep.
ME: Close your eyes and, you know…try.
NICK: Tell me about Baxter.
ME: Well, Baxter was the dog we had before Jessie.
NICK: And he died?
NICK: How did he die?
ME: Nick, you really should just try to go to sleep. It’s ten o’clock.
NICK: Tell it. How did he die?
ME: Well… he was old. And he got sick.
NICK: How did he get sick?
ME: We don’t know. He had something wrong with his heart. He was falling down a lot so we took him to the vet and the vet said he was dying. Really, Nick, I don’t know that we want to…
NICK: How did the vet know he was going to die?
ME: Well… he looked at Baxter’s heart and could see that it was sick.
ME: He took x-rays. He could see.
NICK: And then you and mommy watched Baxter die?
NICK: Why did you do that?
ME: Well… because we wanted him to know that we loved him.
NICK: What did it look like?
ME: It was peaceful. He just closed his eyes. It was like he fell asleep. (This is a lie that I have told my son. Baxter’s death was noisy and awful)
NICK: But then where did he go?
ME: We don’t know, buddy.
NICK: But where?
ME: I’m sorry, Nick. We really just don’t know.
ME: Heaven. Yes. Okay. Heaven.
NICK: But heaven is just an idea.
ME: It is.
NICK: So what place did Baxter go?
ME: I don’t know.
NICK: Tell me answers.
ME: I don’t have any.
NICK: But why?
ME: Because we just don’t know. But I know that Baxter is okay.
ME: NIck, I just don’t know.
NICK: But tell me where he went.
ME: (sigh) Okay. (pause) Okay. So… okay. A few nights after Baxter died… I fell asleep and I had this dream. But it was different from a normal dream.
ME: I can’t explain it. Just listen. So I was in this house. It was like a really big… I don’t know how to describe it. It was like a mansion and it was full of books. And there were little kids everywhere. And this guy who looked like me but younger came up to me and asked me if I wanted to see Baxter. So I said “Yes,” and he took me to him. And Baxter was lying on a pillow and I put my hand on his chest. The guy said “He doesn’t know you’re here.” And I said “Is he okay?” And the guy said “Oh, sure. He’s fine. He’s just not completely awake yet. It’s hard to explain but it takes about two days.” This kind of made sense for some reason. So then the guy told me I could stick around and watch and gradually I saw Baxter kind of get up and walk around. He still didn’t know I was there. And then he started playing ball with the kids that were there. And I looked out the windows and there was all this grass and these trees and I thought this would be a good place for him once he got all his energy back. And then I had to leave. But I saw that Baxter was playing and I knew he was okay.
NICK: I feel like I’m getting tears.
ME: I’m Sorry, buddy. Maybe I shouldn’t have told you that. The point is…everything is going to be okay.
NICK: Baxter was in a house?
ME: It looked like a house.
NICK: Can we go there?
NICK: How did those kids get there? Are they dead?
ME: No. I think it was just a dream, buddy. I don’t think it means that Baxter is actually in that place. I think the dream was something telling me that everything was okay. That Baxter was okay. And that was really all I needed to know.
NICK: I want to go there.
ME: We can’t.
NICK: Where is it?
ME: I don’t know if it’s a real place, buddy.
ME: I know. I feel the same way. But look… the important thing is that we know Baxter is okay.
NICK: Do you miss Baxter?
ME: Every single day.
NICK: Is Jessie gonna die?
ME: Eventually. But not for a long time. The important thing is to enjoy spending time with her while she’s here.
NICK; When she dies, can we get another puppy?
ME: We’ll see.
NICK: I know what happened.
NICK: Don’t be sad, okay? Baxter’s heart fell asleep. But then it woke up. So you don’t have to be sad or miss him. Because his heart woke up.
ME: Thanks pal. We should go to sleep, okay?