Sunday, August 5

An unexpected sashimi situation

Having a fish tank has provided more lessons than I would have imagined possible in just three weeks' time. Of course I expected The Science—creating a healthy ecosystem, testing water pH and ammonia levels, disease prevention, etc.—and even the mind-body stress-relief benefits of watching the serene yet playful aquatic environment. But we've already had a few casualties resulting in conversations about life and death, as well as two front-yard funerals.

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I wasn't here when Gadget and Chip both went belly-up, probably owing to the stress of being part of a new tank environment (I was in D.C. living large). Noah broke the news to Ethan last Friday morning, as he fortunately discovered the corpses first. They talked about it, Ethan decided he wanted to see them to say goodbye, then asked if they were coming back to life. Noah explained that, no, they were instead going to God's big fish tank in the sky.

The funeral was apparently very moving, and included some kind words, a prayer, and a sidewalk-chalk tombstone.

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This past week Ethan and I went to PetSmart and picked up four new tropical fish to join our community (actually three and an underwater snail). His reservoir of names seems to be running dry (so far we have Nemo, Zipper, the late Chip and Gadget, and two "Shark Heads" that are sometimes called Silly and Jelly indiscriminately). The newest fish are Ghost-ghost, Pillow-pillow, Fight-fight, and Knifehead (the snail).

We hadn't seen Fight around all day, which was highly suspicious. The possibilities were few: the cat figured out some sneak attack into a covered 10-gallon tank, Fight wasn't feeling well and was hiding in the log cave, or Fight had gone in the log cave to die alone with dignity.

Guess which one it was.

"I see him! He's dead!" Ethan exclaimed as the cadaver formerly, and briefly, known as Fight-fight floated free when Noah lifted it from the watery deep. Apparently he didn't have much fight-fight in him after all. (Too soon?)

Warning: graphic images of ichthyoidal remains ahead.

We really liked your little black mustache, Fight-fight.
Turns out I didn't have the stomach to attend the funeral, so Ethan and Noah once again went to the front yard alone and performed the service together. Ethan eulogized: "Fight-fight was a really beautiful guy. We'll remember you always, Fight-fight, remember right where you are," he said, rather factually, as he placed another piece of chalk over the grave.

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All this has prompted a number of conversations like "Mommy what happens when you get old?" and  statements like "He went to God." He's really taking it all in, processing it and putting the pieces together, which he proved today on the way to church: he told Nanny that she could give me her ring when she goes to God. (It's okay—she's a proponent of morbid talk.)

I needn't worry too much about Ethan, though. Disney is practically doing my job for me, as evidenced the other day when he announced, "Remember that dead bug? He's on the circle of life."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So sorry about your fish, Ethan. The words you said at Fight-fight's funeral were very sweet. Call me when you're ready to come for a visit. Mimi

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