Last Saturday night, Ian won a goldfish from a Fall Festival game. Had I known he was headed there, I would’ve redirected him, but he won the fish and was very excited, so we went with it. I immediately felt bad, sorry as it is to be sad about a “feeder fish.” I knew we weren’t going to spend the $30+ to get a proper tank, so I knew we were going to simply watch the poor thing fail. We put the fish in a bowl with no filtration and the wrong water, but did buy some food. We did well setting expectations about this fish and Ian decided on his own he would not name the fish so he wouldn’t get attached, but by the second or third day, he decided it was safe to name it “Goldie.” We did our best to keep the clouding water refreshed, knowing we were doing it all wrong anyway, and keeping Goldie fed “just enough.” Alas, I came home on the 4th night to find Goldie listing about. Soon, Goldie was Floating In Peace.
Tonight, when Brian finished work, we all had a memorial service for Goldie. I played the PFR song, “Goldie’s Last Day,” for the boys, then we gathered out back with some candles, a shovel, and a makeshift fish casket made out of a toilet paper tube. Brian dug a hole and Ian said a few words about what a good pet it was for 4 days (Really, he feels gypped and says that next time he wins a fish he wants one that lasts longer). Isaac hoped it would miraculously come alive. Everyone helped fill the hole, and Ian made a circle of rocks on top. Brian said the prayer.
Back inside, Isaac decided it would be meaningful to (have his dad and mom) draw pictures of Goldie. That didn’t turn out to be enough. Then we had to stand in a circle and pass the pictures around “until I feel better.” Then we sat down and looked at the pictures some more. Then Isaac said another prayer and requested we “do some more things about the Holy Spirit.” So, Brian talked a little, and then used 3 candles to demonstrate the Trinity.
As I see a number of people in my circles enduring family losses over the last few weeks, I am both grateful and sad that today we bury a fish — an “easy” introduction to the losses and grief we inevitably face in our lives — an introduction to a part of life I regret my children will come to know more of. But, it is also a reminder of the precious gift of life that we can celebrate every day. I pray we make the most of it, not taking special time together for granted, not passing up opportunities to hug, encourage, help, play, observe, absorb, but dwelling on our blessings and loving full-heartedly.