Little Guppy is dead.
He was Kiyomi's goldfish, one of four given to my girls almost two years ago by a classmate's mom when she arrived to pick up her children after a playdate. She walked in bearing two small bowls housing two fish in each, and asked me, "You don't mind, do you?" as plain as that, as if she hadn't just thrust four more lifeforms into our household unannounced. In light of the fact that Kira and Kiyomi were so excited they were practically licking the sides of the bowls, I didn't have the heart to say no, although I so wanted to ask her, "You couldn't just bring over a goddamned pie?" The family moved to another city shortly after that, which saddened me because I had planned to return the favor by gifting them with a corral of ponies or perhaps a newborn infant at the conclusion of our next playdate.
So, although we were being dragged into fish-ownership against our will, we went out that night and spent almost a hundred dollars on an aquarium, fish food and various overpriced aquarium decor. Because no goldfish of ours, no matter how unplanned for, were going to live in a home without a teeny castle, an undersea cave and a simulated ocean floor made from neon-blue rocks! They promptly named them: Kiyomi chose Little Guppy and Burpie, Kira decided on Melanie and Max. The girls stayed glued to the front of the aquarium, watching their new friends in awe, for all of one week - after that the novelty wore off and the job of feeding the fish and maintaining the tank fell to Rigel and I. (In all fairness, I have to admit that the actual cleaning of the tank is done by Rigel. I was assigned the arduous task of shaking a capful of fish flakes into their watery home every night. Also, it is my job, every couple of weeks or so, to announce, "This here tank stinks to high heaven. Somebody maintain it already.")
Well aware of the short life-span of the household goldfish, we had spent some time preparing the girls for this inevitable day. So when I noticed Little Guppy's lifeless, upside-down body floating at the top of the tank right before bedtime last night, I steeled myself and launched into my "Circle of Life He's Up There With The Angels What A Long Good Life He Had For A Fish" speech. Seemingly unmoved by my passionate discourse, they just continued to stare at the tank and then after a few minutes Kira said, "Should we just flush him down the toilet?"
Kiyomi seemed unaffected at first, too, eagerly volunteering to scoop him out of the tank and into a waiting container, but afterwards, when she buried herself under her covers and wouldn't come up for her goodnight kiss I knew she was crying. I tried comforting her but it wasn't working, so I asked her if it would help to draw a picture and write a letter to her departed friend. She said yes, and came out from under her blanket, although she seemed suspiciously more excited by the fact that she was going to be delaying her bedtime by an additional fifteen minutes and kept telling me, "Do not rush me, mommy. I am sad." She didn't want me to read the letter because it was "private, between me and Little Guppy" so I promised not to. But here is the picture she drew.
We buried Little Guppy after school today, right behind the girls' playhouse. We made a marker and Kiyomi spent some time gathering rocks and flowers. Kiyomi said, "Goodbye Little Guppy. You made life interesting" and I tried not to laugh when Kira said, "You're in a better place. In the dirt." Here is his grave.
And thus we have experienced our first pet death. I hope nobody comes over for a playdate and gives us a puppy.
Monday, March 13, 2006
Little Guppy is dead.