Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Death of a Fish

Our beloved fish Swimmy has died.  He was a good ole fish who served us well.  He survived a year of second grade - living through weekends and holidays of total isolation and little food.  This summer he retired from second grade and came to live at our house.

He seemed to enjoy his new life.  Then I went out of town for the weekend, entrusting the care of Swimmy and my two daughters to the husband.  Patrick was two for three.

Swimmy was belly up Monday morning.  His tank was in the kitchen.  The sink was right there.  I did what seemed natural and put him down the garbage disposal.  Didn't even think twice about it.  May he rest in pieces. 

My sister was appalled.  Apparently she thought this would have been more appropriate:

What's next?  Funerals for house flies?  Wakes for mosquitoes?  He's a fish, people!  Bless him to bits.

This fish was so beloved by all that his death came to the attention of my oldest daughter after only one week of him being departed.  Because of this, I did not really think she would be very affected by it.

I was wrong.

She cried and cried and cried.  After that, I didn't have the heart to tell her about the garbage disposal.  Maybe my sister was right.

We decided to use this as a teachable moment.  It's good to mourn.  It's ok to cry.  Let's talk about things we loved about Swimmy.  God loves us and is the only one who will never die or leave us.  You know, wise parent stuff.

Then Patrick chimes in with, "Do you want to watch Finding Nemo?  That's a happy fish movie."

Really?  More tears.  More talking.  More holding.

And suddenly the inevitable question, "Is Swimmy in heaven?"

I had no response prepared.  I was like a squirrel frozen in the middle of the road with a truck headed straight for me.  Which way do I go?  My mind froze.

Before I could stop my squirrel self, I ran to one side of the road and told her yes.  Abby's face lit up.  Thud.  Hit the wheel of the truck.  Cannot move to the right side of the road now.  It got worse.  She thinks my Meamaw is taking care of Swimmy.  Great.

Do I go back now, days later, drag my limp squirrel self to the other side, crush Abby's one glimmer of hope, and be hit by the truck's other tire?  Or do I stay flattened on this side of the road and let her keep believing a lie?

Perhaps I'll just wait till she mentions it again.  That sounds wonderfully lazy, and therefore must be the wrong answer.  But what's a squirrel to do?

If I am wrong, and there are animals in heaven, I hope Swimmy doesn't recognize me.

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