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Fishy Endings

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Most kids have owned a goldfish when they were little, myself included. The very first fish I had was big and orange and named Rainbowfiretruck. Of course when I first brought him home I contemplated names like Orangie or Goldie, like any five year old. But I was greatly influenced by my aunt’s suggestion. So I ended up with a big, orange, Rainbowfiretruck. Obviously, my aunt was kidding around with names, but I didn’t know better. I didn’t realize she was teasing.

At the time, I loved that fish more than anything. But in spite of how much I loved him, he died within a few weeks. Thinking back to that day my memories come in slow motion. Like always, I was watching Tarzan, and as usual, when my least favorite part came, I jumped up to watch Rainbowfiretruck swim. However, this time was different. He wasn’t swimming in circles, he wasn’t swimming at all. His scales still shimmered in the light, but he was stiff and motionless. After that it’s all a blur. I called mom, and stared at my still little pet. Mom called Dad from the garage; that was when I knew that something was wrong. When I realized what happened, they held me as sobs shook my body. Rainbowfiretruck was dead. This was my first encounter with death. Disorientation took over, I was lost. We flushed the limp orange body, and Mom promised to get me another fish. All the while Tarzan’s distressed cries filtering into the bathroom, making my sorrow worse. It seemed like he was crying with me. But hearing his cries made me cry harder.

When my sister got a bit bigger, we got more fish. One of them was brown with black stripes. This tiny fish, received the name Shark, due to his ravenous appetite. Technically he belonged to my sister, but I called him mine, I have a way of doing things like that to this day. Shark died after what felt like only a few hours to my little kid brain. Tears didn’t come to me though. After all, he wasn’t truly mine. I felt no attachment to the little fish with a raging appetite. Lilly was still alive.

She was so pale you could almost see her insides. The name Lilly seemed to fit her perfectly. To me she was graceful and delicate; she didn’t have a care in the world. She was an underwater ballerina, with a phantom like appearance. Unlike her companion, Lilly lived pretty long. My family and I knew when she was dying though. That silly little fish would float on her side, down to the bottom of the water glass she called home. Surprisingly though, each time we thought she was dead, she would swim up and circle, as if to say “ha ha, fooled you again, I don’t die that easy”. Eventually she did die though. Once again I didn’t cry. The reason to why I didn’t cry is something I still don’t understand. Maybe because we knew she was dying I got used to the idea of her being gone.

Thinking back to these events makes me realize something. Death is death, but the way a person handles it can be so different. When you know someone or something close to you is dying, then your mind has time to prepare for life without them. But when something dies suddenly its different. Your world comes crashing down. You feel lost, you feel helpless, and there isn’t anything that can make you feel better. But, based on my own experience, death that you know is coming is easier to deal with. Naturally you will be sad, life just won’t ever be the same, but it is easier to cope with death that you know is coming.



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