The tale of my murderous fish and his lingering fever to stay alive

The tale of my murderous fish and his fight to stay alive

I am not someone who lingers. I know quite a declarative statement. I go to events and get things done and go home. I find business social milieus to be quite a drag and oftentimes filled to the brim with phonies engaged in one-upsmanship. Lingering to me is tiring. If I have enjoyed something then there is no need for me to prolong the moment. As George Whitfield noted “Press forward. Do not stop, do not linger in your journey, but strive for the mark set before you.” Maybe I am a curmudgeon. Perhaps I have the Monday Blues.

I will tell you what type of lingering I believe in- that of my goldfish’s fight to stay alive.

Over thirteen years ago I adopted a dog. He was the most loving, diva-driven, grumpy dog. He was the perfect dog for me. I loved him and I know he loved me. A love so pure is hard to find. Then he got sick and tried to fight a good fight. The pain was too much for his heart and it gave out. I caught his last breath and expelled a fierce cry. I was devastated.

A year later I started contemplating adopting another dog. However, a deep-seated sense of betrayal overwhelmed me. I could not imagine replacing my Milo. He had been so perfect. I was still in mourning and thus too soon to adopt.

My son then started kindergarten and in came the school requests for family photos. We submitted ones that still had our Milo. However, my son noted he really didn’t have a pet as Milo was still sick at the hospital.  Yes, I have yet to tell him Milo passed away. This way Milo is still alive in our conversations.

One weekend, we went to the pet store and bought a couple of fish, a fish-tank and some decorative fish-tank items.  The two fish didn’t live long.  I was again saddened. Everyone tells me fish, in particular goldfish, don’t last long. I am not too sure that is a consolation. We told my son the two fish were tired and had gone to Hawaii to rest at a fish farm. See, Hawaii is my happy place. Thus, it makes sense that the fish would head on over there. I imagine them sipping on a couple of Mai Tais. Not that I told my son that part.

Off we went to get two new fish: the beastie boys. They were beautiful. Into the tank they went. They were doing swimmingly well for a few weeks. Then one of them looked a little dead just lying on the bottom of the tank. I came in for a closer look and sure enough it was dead. The other one was even more active in his swimming activities and seemed to wag his fins at me.  What had happened? Till this day, we believe Mr. Fishman killed his fellow beastie boy.

Now, while he was a murderer fish, he is very loving. Every time I come into the room he swims over to get my attention. He wags his fins and blows me kisses. His eyes appear to be as happy as a clam to look into mine. I can peer into his eyes and see his soul. Ok. That is me going too far. He  is an interactive fish. I know he probably just is ruled by his desire for food pellets and is conditioned to see me in light of that. I also realize I am imbuing him with Milo’s essence.   I know all that yet I still see him as a loving pet.

Two weeks ago he started getting a bit sluggish and hanging near his fish trees. He was not eating as well as he normally does. I started to get worried. Was he also about to expire? We started to hang out more in the room with him. He seemed appreciative of that gesture perking up at our presence.  Then I went away on a business trip. Upon my return he seemed really sluggish.

I hung out with him, reminding him that he is a fighter. I spoke with him telling him “you can fight this. You can do this.”  As I encouraged him in my baby yet urgent tones he struggled further up from the bottom of the fish-tank. He was fighting. He wants to linger on. I know it. I can feel it when I look into his eyes.

I don’t think he has long. However, that fighting spirit is hard to ignore.  I can’t help but be proud that the “never give up” fighting spirit I have long held, cam be passed to not only my son, but also to the smallest of creatures.

In the words of George Buchner:

The death clock is ticking slowly in our breast, and each drop of blood measures its time, and our life is a lingering fever.”

Inspired in part by the daily prompt of linger.

4 replies »

  1. You’re such a wonderful writer! I’m sorry about Milo (I lost my kitty of 12 years in October) and I’ll certainly keep your fish in my thoughts. 🙂 I admire both of your fighting spirits! 🙂


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