Thursday, October 20, 2011
Well, we had another memorial yesterday... this time it was for Ali's fish. He gave up the ghost yesterday afternoon. His name was Ring, and he was a male Betta... Ali's first official pet. The other night, he jumped out of the glass I had him in while I was changing his tank. He somehow flopped his way from the kitchen counter into the cookie pan in the sink which had oil in it and water in it... Problem was I was putting Ali to bed when this went down, so he was hanging out in the cookie pan for a while. He was still kickin' and I thought maybe he was like a goldfish that can just about live in a puddle, but he only lasted 3 days after the accident.
I had told Ali on Monday about what happened and that he was pretty beat up from the event. I told her there was a chance he might die, and she lost it. It was rough because for obvious reasons, I want to give the girl a little break from death for a while... as if any of us have that power. We all want that for our kids, but to think we actually can control that... well that's another story.
Ring died while Ali was at school. I talked to Ang and we came up with a plan. She graciously gave me a Tiffany & Co. box she had, and I put a comfy bed of toilet paper in it and laid him in it as his coffin. Then, I cleaned out his little tank and prepared it for a new fish. We agreed that we'd take her straight to the pet store to get another fish. So, when I picked her up, I waited until I had her strapped in so she wouldn't have to cry in front of her classmates, then I broke the news. We then proceeded to the pet store to pick out a new Betta. This time, she picked a female, which is good because she is like one fifth the size of her male predecessor, so her seemingly little tank is comparatively huge!
But the real magic was in deciding what we should do with Ring. We decided to have a funeral in the back yard. Ali decorated the inside of his casket, wrote him a goodbye letter, made him a card, and we dug a small hole in the flower bed, put him inside with his letter and card, closed it up and made a gravestone, then I sang "Happy Trails" to him as his goodbye song. When we walked inside, I could just tell that Ali was complete. She had closure. It was really a sweet time asking her questions and letting her make decisions about how to best say goodbye. I told her that he could be Bella's pet fish in heaven now, and she slowly came around to that plan.
It's not whether we face challenges, tragedy, loss, injustice, etc. in life. It's how. That's where the power is, that's where the game is won or lost. Don't curse your challenges, tragedies, losses, or injustices. They are simply opportunities for you to become your best self... after all it isn't like any of us can really avoid these things. Frankly, if you live in the U.S. and are reading this, you/we are blessed to have what I call "challenge atrophy." Our standard of living is so high, the problems we face are mostly "luxury problems" by comparison to 90% of the world's population. That doesn't make them any less real for us, because this life and lifestyle is all most of us have ever known. We are blessed to be weak in the face of challenge, because by and large, we haven't truly experienced it like so many of our brothers and sisters around the world. In other words, it's a good problem to have.
Bless your challenges; they are here. Now, you can get bitter or better.