Monday, March 13, 2006


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.

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  1. Aw, Marsha, I'm so sorry for your family's loss! I applaud your daughters' healthy attitude towards the death of a pet. My youngest son was inconsolable when our cat died; I had to make up a story about her going to "Kitty Heaven" to become a Kitty Guardian Angel.

    But who just shows up at someone's house with pets? Cookies, those bags of Amish Friendship Bread starter, flowers, but not pets.

  2. that is a pretty darn good drawing for and adult let alone a child -- this kid has a serious talent!!

    uh, oh, a yeah, sorry 'bout the fishy too...

    I guess I should return the baby Komodo Dragon that I was going to stop by with tomorrow for the girls - man I hope I can find the receipt!!!!!

  3. This is punishment for the tantric sex, you know. You gave Little Guppie a heart attack.

    I'm with elizabeth - was this woman a Carnie? I mean who totes goldfish around but a carnival worker? Perhaps you can fill a cage with small mice and hand them out as door prizes

  4. again, I marvel at how long you were able to go on without such a death in the family. I think Niccolo might have been four, with a few dead goldfish already under his belt...when he decided it was time for a firebellied newt, every budding herpetologists dream pet. I thought it was a brilliant idea, until we spent close to 100$ on his new tank and rocks and friendly scuba diver companion. But I digress.

    As we waited in line to hand over the wads of cash, we saw a young father come in with his own very excited 4 year old boy, shopping for their first fish. I smiled at the thought as the little guy scampered around the store eyeing every last tank before settling on the perfect big orange goldfish.

    As they got in line behind us, Niccolo turned around and admired the wee lad's catch and very matter of factly stated, "they die you know."

    Luckily, I was through with my transaction and we made a hasty retreat...I could feel that dad's eyes burn a hole in my back as we had ruined his PERFECT moment.

    AAAH the joys. and sorrows.

  5. Ooohhhhhh!!! Tooo sad but also sweet! Poor Little Guppy. We "fishsat" our young neighbor's goldfish last year when his family went on vacation, and I always wonder how much longer it lived.

  6. These things never occured to me when I started acquiring all these pets before we had kids. Although, my Hubby likes to now point out that they (the pets) are all the right age to die in rapid succession around the time my daughter turns 10.
    This also didn't occur to me when I married this guy. :)

  7. So, he didn't go down the toilet? I've always wanted to actually flush a fish down the toilet and see what would happen.

    Really, was that woman on crack? I would have showed up on her doorstep the next morning with a couple puppies, kittens and ponies.

  8. That is a beautiful picture. Very touching.

  9. This reminds me of the episode of "The Cosby Show" (which we watch regularly) where the littlest child has a goldfish that dies...and the family has a funeral service in the bathroom. Rudy, the little one, says she wants to be ALONE, and the dad assumes she is sad and just wants "a moment." She says, "No, I have to GO to the bathroom." As sad and funny as the entire ordeal start to finish, it's always best to start off with a fish, in the pet and death department!

  10. Deepest condolences on the loss of "Little Guppy." I'm sure he was a mighty fine fish. But seriously? I'm more overwhelmed by the cuteness of your post...naming a fish "Burpie," the artful drawing, the flush idea, the dirt comment, and the popsicle tombstone. It's all too cute for words.

    By the way, WHO just drops off a bunch of fish at someone's house for a playdate? That lady's lucky she moved away!

  11. Metrodad just took the words right out of my mouth! Really, deepest condolences but also congratulations on having a daughter who, at such a young age, already has marketable artistic talent.

  12. Yeah, ditto what everyone else said, your daughter as great artistic talent.

    I loved her closing remarks "You're in a better place. In the dirt." I am so glad you are keeping this blog so that they can read these when they're older and see how funny they were as kids. How do you keep a straight face??

  13. good lord this is the cutest fucking post ever. who brings over a fish on a playdate? do you mind if i bring your family a cow? i mean, at least you'll be able to eat it if it dies. HA!
    ps- that is the prettiest damn burial i've ever seen!

  14. It would never occure to me to give someone else's child a pet. I won't even give my own kid a pet. Your post was great. I love the don't rush me, I am sad part. Classic.

  15. Sorry for the loss ... in the dirt. I had a similar incident happen a few weeks ago with my daughter. "Honey SLEEEEEeeePin Mommie?" (age 3)

    Although, I didn't seem to have any colored popsicle sticks on hand nor the amazing kite string skills to construct a grave site like yours. The toilet became Honey's icy grave during nap time.

  16. Um, your daughter draws better than I do.

    Sorry to hear of your loss; the same thing happened here last year. Julia -- er, DAVE, wanted a goldfish for her second birthday. Julia was interested for five minutes, then she turned her attention to other things and I forgot to clean the tank. Her fish was sprouting mushrooms when I noticed it was dead.

  17. I wonder if someone gave that mom those goldfish at a previous playdate and she decided just to share the wealth. Niiiiice.

    I agree with the others, Kiyomi is an excellent artist -- and what a lovely gravesite. I am touched and verklempt.

  18. Poor little gals. Now the big question, are you going to replace the fish? or are you just going to let them die off one by one ...

  19. Thank all of you for your condolences. We will be going to Petco tomorrow to buy a new fish for Kiyomi. And this comes only 48 hours after Little Guppy was laid to rest. Where's the loyalty, I ask you?

    As for Kiyomi's artistic talent, yes she has plenty. Both the girls are budding little artists. I guess with two parents who are both designers it would be tragic if they had been left out of that gene pool. Although, I have to concede that the drawing skills all come from Rigel - I doubt I would have been able to render such a beautiful tribute to Little Guppy.

    But that type treatment? Those beautifully designed block letters and expert kerning? She gets those genes from me, baby.

  20. What a lovely picture - and a very honorable grave.

  21. I buried my first fish, too! I would have loved to have a ceremony like on the Cosby's...
    I will have to hire you guys to make the grave for my son's first fish, which we still haven't purchased, but it's good to be prepared for the inevitable, right?

  22. That is a sweet and hilarious post all in one. You are funny :)


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