Sunday, February 12, 2017
"What should we do?" asked the Mama (what I lovingly call my wife). "I don't want to find her floating when the girls get home. Not after Jumpy."
"I don't know," I said. "Maybe we should just put her out of her misery and then tell the girls what happened, that she was sick and died."
The Mama shook her head. "No, we should tell them that we had to take her back to the pet store to see if the pet doctor can help her feel better."
I shook my head. "I'm not sure that's a good idea. They know things die. Jumpy died. We should just be straight with them."
Again she shook her head. "No, that's just too much right now and I don't want to worry about it, or them worry about it. Let's just tell them she went back to the store, and if she's gets well, then we'll bring her home."
I nodded. "Okay, that's fine. I get it. Although they may not buy it. What should we do with Goldie then?"
"You take care of it. I don't want to see it."
I knew what that meant. It was the only thing to do. One of the only humane ways to deal with dying or dead pet fish: the toilet flush.
"You take care of it."
Jumpy Tree Summer, was a handsome Betta that lived for over a year and half before he passed. We'd been at my sisters for Thanksgiving last year, and prior to leaving Jumpy hadn't been looking so good. Lethargic and listing, all his usual deep burgundy flowing fins were fraying and he looked more and more sickly. Then he'd stopped eating. We were only going to be gone for a few days, but just weren't sure he'd make it.
Which he didn't. The Mama saw him floating as soon checked out the tank, and while I continued to unload the car from our trip and the girls were playing in the living room, she took care of him.
Later that evening, the full impact of losing Jumpy hit both Bryce and Beatrice head on. They cried and cried, and although Jumpy wasn't ever a pet they could hold, hug or stroke lovingly -- or the fact that the Mama was the one who took care of him, keeping his tank clean and feeding him every day -- he was still their first pet, the one they picked out at the pet store and brought home. The one that died, because everything dies, and not something we had to address since my parents had died four years earlier when they were much younger.
So they cried and cried, and even the Mama and I teared up. Prior to having the girls, we had three pets between us -- I had an adopted black and white Shih Tzu named Joshua, and the Mama had two cats from the same litter, a black and white boy named Charlie and a Calico girl named Chelsea. All three lived pretty long lives, with Chelsea living to be 22 years old. She was still living after Bryce was born and Beatrice was constantly pulling Chelsea's tail, something no cat ever likes. But in the end we had to put all three to sleep, an emotionally draining experience for anyone who's ever had to say goodbye to a beloved pet. Each time it was me taking them to the vet's office, holding them in the cold, white vet examining room, holding them in their final moments, balling my eyes out.
Because they are like our children, and siblings, an no one likes to lose a member of the family. And yet, after they've gone and you have growing kids of your own, you don't ever want another pet again, at least for us that is, for now.
Why? What do you mean why? Have you ever had to take care of your beloved children? They're a lot of work, and the parent that would have to take care of the pets as well, in this case the Mama, doesn't need another mouth to feed. You feel me?
Which is why when the ultimate softening came, the Mama agreed to get a second fish. Bryce wanted to surprise Beatrice, and so they went to the pet store and picked out a goldfish -- Goldie Rose Macaroni. Beatrice was thrilled and the girls were excited to have a pet fish again.
Until a week later and the final decision for parental euthanasia intervention.
"You take care of it."
And so I did. Farewell, Goldie. Splash. Flush. Swirl. Goodbye.
This time it was more anti-climatic, being the short-lived second, although Bryce did cry later that night, unsure of what to think about Goldie going "back to the pet store to be fixed."
That's why no more pets for now. The girls have brought up hamsters, half-heartedly attempting to negotiate, which we've shut down. But then they'll go goo-goo over puppies and kittens when we see them on TV or in the wild. There was even a point where the Mama considered getting a pot-belly pig for a pet. I have no idea what she was thinking.
Forget it. Not going to happen. Until it eventually does.