Yesterday morning we had to say our final goodbyes to the newest member of the Fuerst family, Betta. I came downstairs and as I had been doing all week I immediately walked over to the fish bowl. I peered into the bowl and numbly declared. "He's dead, Betta's dead". Micah scoffed at me and assured me that he was sleeping. Last time I checked, fish don't sleep on their backs. I wasn't feeling quite ready to explain what had happened to Gwenevere, so we continued our morning routine as usual.
I had errands to run, but I thought it would be best to tell Gwenevere about her fish before I left the house. Micah and I sat down with her and I explained we had some sad news, her fish had died and gone to heaven. "Yeah!! Betta's in heaven!", she said. Hmmmm, not the reaction I was anticipating. I got ready to leave the house and told Micah he and Gwenevere could hold funeral services while I was gone.
While I was out I decided to stop by the Mom 2 Mom sale that was going on at the Ingham County fair grounds. Big mistake. I thought I could shop around a little and hopefully find some nice used books and maybe a few new toys for my daughter. I didn't realize that I was walking into a minefield of pregnant women and new moms. Since losing my twins at 23 weeks I have had a very difficult time with pregnant bellies and newborn babies. It's not that I don't think that other people should have healthy babies, I just feel jealous that they can have healthy babies and take it for granted. I wasn't at the giant garage sale for long before I ran into a friend that is pregnant with her second child. She could tell from the look on my face that I was struggling and asked if I was okay. I almost started to cry as I explained that I was a little overwhelmed and that our fish had also died that morning. I felt so silly, but my feelings were real. She listened and we chatted a bit, I walked away feeling a little better and I decided to find something fun for my daughter.
I left the sale with several Golden Books in my purse and a Little People airplane. As I was driving home I got a call from Micah explaining that the funeral had not gone well. When it was time for Betta's body to be flushed away and say the final goodbyes Gwenevere began to cry. She was inconsolable and she wanted her fishy to stay. By the time I got home she was fine and she was very excited about her new books. I didn't really know what to say to her about Betta. She brought him up occasionally as the day went on and we talked about how sometimes fish get sick and die. "He's in the potty now", she would say. That was tricky to explain. I told her that yes, his body went down the potty, but his little fish spirit was swimming up in heaven.
We haven't shed any tears today about Betta. His bowl still sits empty on the kitchen counter. Micah and I have contemplated a new fish, but I don't know if that sets a good example. When someone in our life dies we don't go out and get a replacement. James and Penelope are gone and they can never be replaced. We may have another child. But that child will be just that, another child. Number four in the Fuerst family, not replacing one of my children that is gone. So if we do decide to get another fish we will get a new separate fish. It will not be Betta, Betta can not be replaced.