It is with a surprisingly heavy heart that I report the passing of Swimmy, Kiddo's pet goldfish. Swimmy's life came to an end at approximately 4:45 this afternoon. I can be that specific because we'd spent the day on Piscine Death Watch, keeping vigil over the tank in Kiddo's room.
I'd noticed Swimmy seemed a bit off a few days ago when I was in Kiddo's room putting away laundry. You see, Swimmy's typical response to catching sight of any movement in the room was to begin swimming frantically back and forth at the top of the tank in a bid to get fed (or, more accurately, fed again as Swimmy was indeed fed first thing every morning). The other morning, however, Swimmy ignored me, choosing to stare morosely at the bottom, back corner of the tank. I waved my hand in front of Swimmy's face, which would ordinarily elicit a response, but nothing. I mentioned this to Hubby but he said he wasn't worried because Swimmy had been swimming and splashing (did you know goldfish like to jump? True story!) as per usual when he was reading to Kiddo at bedtime.
When we got home from church this morning, Kiddo went up to her room to change and immediately came back downstairs to get us. "Something's wrong with Swimmy!!!" Uh oh. Sure enough, Swimmy was sideways and sort of hovering near the top of the tank. Swimmy did not look good. Kiddo was really upset, to say the least, and asked us if we could take Swimmy to the vet, which, um, no. Hubby did a 25% water change, removed all the decorative plants and vacuumed the gravel in the tank, which turned up a lot of uneaten fish flakes and led us to the conclusion that Swimmy had not been eating for at least a few days. Double uh oh. Hubby helped Kiddo add a dose of Stress Coat to the tank water, and then we waited and watched. I was hoping for a miracle but not holding my breath.
Since it seemed a foregone conclusion that Swimmy was not long for this world (and sure enough, the end came within hours), we were faced with helping Kiddo through one of life's Big Lessons. You see, we have been very fortunate in our family not to have experienced much death in recent years. Since Kiddo was born in 2003, our only losses have been her great-grandmother (my grandmother), who died when Kiddo was 18 months old, and our old cat, Katie, who died when Kiddo was just two and a half. She has no memories of those experiences, so in fact this pet goldfish (of no great significance in the grand scheme of things) was about to be her first true personal experience with death.
And this is why I am sad. Not because I will particularly miss the fish. I'm not especially fond of fish as pets (and after all, Swimmy did try to kill me) or really any pet smaller than, say, a guinea pig (and Hubby has put his foot down that we will emphatically *not* ever be getting a guinea pig). I prefer pets with which one can interact, ideally a cat or dog. No, I'm sad not because of Swimmy's passing, but because of Kiddo's devastation. I know it's the circle of life and all that, and it is a lesson she needs to learn (and she did understand the concept of death in theory prior to today), but man, it is just so hard to have to witness her heartbreak and grief, even over something as inconsequential as a goldfish.
Kiddo opted for a ground burial over an aquatic burial (which is a good thing considering Swimmy's size - I feared a burial at sea would wind up with a plumber's bill for a backed up sewage line due to his rather impressive corpse) and so Hubby dutifully dug a hole in the front garden, right by the house. Kiddo wrote a small memorial (and the tear splotches on the paper broke my heart anew):
and we tucked it into the grave with Swimmy. Once Hubby had finished filling the grave back in, we placed a special stone on top of it, given to us by Kiddo's beloved kindergarten teacher -
because it seemed fitting. I told Kiddo that we can buy a plant to put there too, once the planting season starts. She likes the idea of Swimmy having flowers.
And there you have it. Swimmy, the ginormous, carnival fish who scared large dogs and Mommies alike. From humble beginnings
to more elaborate digs
and with a brief moment of international fame when Swimmy was a finalist in a photo competition and thus was featured on the Simon's Cat website:
Swimmy made my kid happy for four years of her childhood, and that means a lot, even if Swimmy was just a fish.
(I should note that Kiddo is already asking for another goldfish. I mean, what she really wants is a dog, but unless the Invisible Fence Fairy pays a visit to our back yard and makes it possible to be able to let a dog out to do his/her business without requiring a human to get dressed, leash the dog up and take it out for a walk every single time it has to go, a puppy isn't happening this year. So, we've talked about it and have agreed we'll get another fish soon...)