11 May 2009

Where All the Good Fishes Go

Picking out Treasure

We said good bye to Treasure this weekend. She was Bella’s easter fish. Treasure was a member of our family for less than a month because she got sepsis and died.

The fish hadn’t been doing well for about a week or so. It wasn’t swimming and had difficulty breathing. Wifey did some internet research which enabled us to make a diagnosis.

On Saturday, we knew it would be time to say goodbye to the fish. We discussed it with Bella and we decided to flush her. Well, in actual fact, Wifey would be in charge of the actual transferring the fish from one bowl to another and giving Treasure the ceremonial flush back to the ocean.

It didn’t happen quite as we intended.

Wifey and I had a quick errand to run. Treasure was looking real bad and the time was near. Since we really needed to do this errand (which I cannot now remember what it was so I guess it couldn’t have been all that important after all) and didn’t want to get into what was anticipated to be a long fish funeral, I hurried us along and said we’d deal with it when we got home.

We left, ran the unmemorable errand, and returned. Only when we got home Treasure was no longer in her bowl. She had disappeared. Gone. Vanished.

It took me a moment to connect the disappearance of the fish to my daughter. In our absence, Bella had peered into the bowl and took it upon herself to scoop up her pet and end Treasure’s suffering. Only there wasn’t any ceremony. Or a goodbye. There was just a plastic baggie and a kid who doesn’t connect her head to her heart too well. A kid who took this action solo.

As we were the crappy Mommies, in our absence, our daughter had euthanatized her fish.

My heart tugged for her. I was amazed that she had opted to take this on by herself. I didn’t even want to be part of the fish’s death and had nominated Wifey to deal with it. If I couldn’t handle it, how was Bella going to? We didn’t want Bella to feel directly responsible for Treasure’s death.

We wrapped Bella in a hug and tried to insert a little goodbye with a few kind words for Treasure. We tried to use metaphor that Bella had stopped Treasure’s suffering and she was now enjoying a swim in the great ole’ fish pond or the big wild ocean.

We were trying to distance her from the grim reality of the situation. But Bella’s a realist. She knew that her fish wasn’t going for the trip of her lifetime.

That’s when Bella took the opportunity to educate us on the water and sewage treatment process.

Clearly, Treasure was not swimming in the ocean. Treasure was floating in a pond of poopy water that we’d make clean and one day drink again. She watches “Dirty Jobs” and knows all about sewage treatment. I, on the other hand, now know more than I ever wanted to.

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