In the year or two after my Dad died I often found myself, usually in moments of routine or relaxation, jolted back to the realization that he was dead. It wasn’t that I had forgotten. Rather, at those moments when I let my guard down, my brain took the opportunity to send me a little grief zinger. Every single time, it made me wince.
Thankfully, the sharper pains have subsided, leaving a dull ache that I have actually grown rather fond of. Instead of thinking of my Dad as sick, and dying, and dead – – and what I lost – – I gladly reminisce about shared moments and dream about what he would think about my life now.
Dad has been gone about 10 years. But our beloved goldfish Minty Orange, won at a fair by Molly, who determinedly lobbed a ping pong ball into his hot little cup, just died.
In our four years together that fish survived a cross-country move, dropsy, an infected swim bladder (which I wrote about here), the death and subsequent cannibalization of our other pet fish, Coco-Boppy (really he just ate his eye – – why Minty Orange, why?), and a leap out of the tank across our kitchen that should have killed him. Minty Orange was our first family pet and we loved him.
When I found him on the floor again, having very nimbly leapt out of a 2-inch hole in the screen capping his tank, we were all very sad to see him go.
Joseph cried, and cried, and cried. I watched Molly slide through the stages of grief, right into a momentary depression when she ruefully stated that she didn’t want any other pets ever again. Then, if we ever got another pet, it would have to be small because “the bigger the pet the harder it would be to lose.” When I asked why, she said that “the bigger the creature, the easier it is to get attached to, especially if it is not a water animal.”
I looked at her tear-stained face as Joseph whimpered in my arms and JohnJohn bumbled around behind them and waited. I waited and waited to think clearly which way to go with this one.
Feeling tender and thinking of my own sorrowful bruises I had to admit that, really, the loss of a loved one of any size or species is awful. But the pain can change. And the sadness may lighten. And, while we might feel like we are missing something, that’s because, well, we are. But that means we had something worth missing.
And then we talked about the awesome shot that brought Minty Orange to us in the first place.