One of my son’s Goldfish died last night.
He’d gotten them about a year ago, when his Grandmother thought it might be nice for him to have a couple of fish for pets. After originally getting One pure gold one, one gold and white, and one gold with black fins, after about a month only the first two remained. My son named them “Goldie” and “Nemo respectfully.
As My son lives part-time with his Mother, its’ fallen to me to ensure they are fed every morning and that the tank gets cleaned regularly. So, although they are my son’s fish, they have become mine as well. And I’ve taken to making the morning feedings in the pre-dawn darkness as a welcome addition to my routine.
As the fish became used to the schedule, when I switched the tank light on, Goldie and Nemo would always be at the front of the tank eagerly awaiting their morning food drop. They started to show their appreciation and excitedness by doing a little ‘boogie’, wiggling their bodies back and forth and rapidly opening and closing their mouths. It’s amazing how such an innocent action from such small animals can actually touch a person. Receiving their appreciation has since become a welcome moment.
Sadly, the beginning of the end for Goldie started Thursday night. When I got home after dinner, I noticed that he was having a hard time remaining upright. Friday morning it was the same if not worse, as he’d made his way into the castle in the middle of the tank and wasn’t moving much. I picked Tyler up after school and then went and celebrated his oldest cousin’s Birthday. When we returned home, the situation was the same. So I sat Tyler down and spoke to him about what we were seeing with Goldie. I told him that Goldie was likely not going to live much longer, and that it was ok to feel sad. I also explained to him that God creates all living things and that he decides when it’s time to come to him in heaven. He seemed ok, with the situation, so we went to bed.
This morning, I awakened very early like always and went in to check on Tyler. After doing so, I looked in the tank and saw the most amazing sight: The situation had certainly not improved for Goldie, but Nemo had swam into the little castle as well and was sitting on the bottom of the tank right beside his friend. It struck me then, that I was seeing compassion and possibly grieving from a Goldfish! Several hours later after going back to sleep, then waking up and having breakfast, Nemo stayed right there beside Goldie’s body until I moved the castle to discover that Goldie had in-fact passed.
What an amazing realization that even some of God’s smallest creatures can feel compassion and the loss of a close companion. The thought has been with me all day, and that tells me I’m on to something. We know Dogs and Cats can cuddle to empathize or when they or their human are frightened. We also know they can sense sadness and stay near for comfort. The fact that fish do the same should tell us a great deal about how vital closeness is, and how important it is to support our family and friends in whatever they are going through.
Always remember: Be kind, as anyone we run across may be fighting a battle we know nothing about. Is a co-worker facing the diagnosis of a terminal illness? A friend, the loss of a loved-one. A child, battling feelings of worthlessness brought on by bullying or not being seen as adequate by classmates. A driver on the same street, distracted as they’re hearing that their spouse is leaving them. An employee in a store you frequent, afraid to go home to another beating by someone whom is supposed to love them. An older family member, fear of dying.
Emotions are the heart strings that bind us, that connect our lives to those around us. They can be inconvenient, overpowering, terrifying, soothing, comfortable, vital, and necessary. No matter what they are for others, they are real and we need to do our best to understand and support whomever has them to the best of our abilities. For those are the experiences, the moments that build memories. And it is those memories that truly shape and enrich our lives and the lives of others.
So, from seeing how one of my Son’s fish behaved upon realizing his friend had passed, I’ve realized a profound truth. When we experience those emotions with someone we love or care about, we are becoming one with them. We are bringing to them the true heart and Love of God. We are telling them by listening or giving them a hug, “You Matter to Me…..You matter to the World….You matter to God.”
It’s in the small things that truth we need to hear is sometimes spoken. We only need to listen or see and realize what it is. Thank you my little aquatic friends for opening my eyes. Goldie, we’ll miss you and know you’re in a better place. Nemo, thank you for being my teacher. It’s a lesson I hope to never forget.