December 14, 2005

Jenna's Dead Fish

Albert won't mind being followed by a dead beta. Much.

Last night George called me on the cell to let me know that Gil, our beloved Beta Fish, oh hell, I mean one of Jenna's live-pet menagerie, was looking pretty limp. In fact, not good at all.

Gil lives on Jenna's dresser in a divided (tank? beta triangular holder? whatever) with another beta named Speedy. Gil came first. Speedy second. Jenna has had Gil for over a year, longer than the dreaded hamsters but not as long as Bando our almost-six-year-old dog.

I don't think a year is very old in beta terms, but I don't know how old he was when we got him at the pet store, and it's actually pretty old according to The Sessum Household pet life expectancy these days, considering the dozen hamsters who were eaten by their mother, and the one really nasty hamster who, err, ran away.

Once we got into the house last night, I told Jenna we'd better go see Gil, that he wasn't doing so well--he was sick. She cried as we separated him out of the divided tank into a smaller cup so he wouldn't have to work so hard to eat, or, um, move actually, and because That Internet said to separate a sick fish from sharing water with any other fish, lest they catch the bird flu or fish flu or something.

I suggested as gently as a mother can that Gil looked pretty close to being gone and that maybe we should send him back to the ocean, down the toilet, set him free like Nemo on that current of intercoastal water fun, to which Jenna replied, "MOM, THAT WOULD NOT BE NICE--HE IS ALIVE AND YOU CAN'T JUST GIVE UP ON HIM!" After which I felt a little bit crummy, but I'm telling you the fish was pretty much dead.

Jenna talked to that sad limp fish in that little cup for a good while. She said a prayer before she fell asleep that God would take care of Gil and make him better, and then I sort of set the stage for the Good Lord by mentioning that EVEN IF Gil didn't get better, he sure had a good life on her dresser, with all the beta food he ever needed, and with all of those colorful stones, and a friend to stare at through plexigass in Speedy, and what more could a beta want.

And then she prayed, through tears, that, well, if by some chance Gil didn't make it, she might find another good pet, not to REPLACE Gil or anything (she said this), because he will always be in her heart (she said this), but to let her love another pet. To which I said, Jenna if you're talking about another dog you can forget it, but sure we can talk about another fish, and she said well that was a good thing at least until she's 9 and can get a puppy (which is something she got in her head one day no matter how many times I say where did you get that idea) and we both thanked God for all the good health in the rest of the family, except for poor Gil, amen, and she fell asleep.

She comes home in an hour and a half.

Gil's dead at the bottom of his cup.