Life, Love, and Dead Fish This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

May 31, 2010
By , Newark, OH
At eight years old, I experienced a traumatizing sight. My two goldfish, whom I had bought yesterday at Wal-Mart, named Bob and Luciana after my uncle and aunt, and gently poured into their new glass-bowl home, were floating on the surface of the water. I didn’t know much about fish, but I knew they looked rather dead.

Being a mature third-grader who prided myself on matching my light-up sneakers to my Barbie purse, keeping my crayons unbroken and razor sharp, and reading mini-chapter books a whole grade level above my own, I didn’t panic. I collected two matchboxes and two large rocks from my yard to use as gravestones. Unceremoniously, I picked up Luciana by her slimy tail and deposited her in her fish sized coffin. She didn’t quite fit, but I shook the box till I could finally shove it closed. Now for Bob. I dropped him in the matchbox.
He flopped.
I screamed and dumped him back in the water.
He floated.
I put him back in the matchbox.
He flopped.
After the third time, I made a hard decision. If Luciana, the love of his life, was dead, undoubtedly Bob would not want to carry on living any longer. Bracing myself, I shoved his matchbox closed between flops.

I buried them in the middle of my backyard and wrote a homily on their gravestones with a marker. After that, I discovered that within twenty-four hours I had become more attached to those two goldfish with odd names than I thought humanly possible. Right after I recovered from their shocking death a neighborhood cat dug up Bob and Luciana and devoured them. That extended the mourning period.

After such a tragic farewell, I decided not to become attached to anything that was going to leave me that soon. The pain in my young heart simply wasn’t worth it.
I felt very accomplished to have developed this wise philosophy on life at such an early age.

Six years after this revelation I fell in love with a football-playing, dark eyed, hilarious boy with the cutest hair I have ever been privileged to set eyes upon. Bob and Luciana, and the lesson they taught me, were forgotten. Four months later, he asked me out.
It was a great five days.

He was my first long-term crush, my fist kiss, and the first boy I’d ever cried over. Unfortunately, he was the male equivalent of a hoe.

After we broke up, I sat on a bench outside my school, waiting for my ride home, and remembered the summer I was eight, and how miserable I had been over the demise of two fat goldfish I had barely known. I knew that however sad I was then, this was much worse. Maybe there was more truth than I’d realized in that old life philosophy I had unknowingly discarded. Almost as soon as I’d had the thought, I knew I was wrong. If I let the fear of being hurt stop me from loving anyone ever again, I would grow up into a bitter, lonely old lady. And to top that off I would probably own several million cats and spend all my time in a housedress ordering useless items off of T.V. infomercials. I wasn’t going to let two goldfish and a cute, curly-haired guy do that to me.

That’s when I realized Mark Twain’s quote “Dance like no one is watching, sing like no one is listening, love like you've never been hurt and live like it's heaven on earth” was more than a clichéd set of words inscribed on picture frames or posted as Facebook statuses. It was a guarantee from someone much wiser than I that loving and losing, is, in fact, better than never having loved at all. A guarantee that eventually, I’ll find someone I can love without ever being afraid of getting hurt.
And that’s good enough for me.

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