Fish or Chicken? Sarah Fehr H ey, Babe, I finally gave in and got the fish! You want to come help me and the kids get things set up?” I carefully measured the water into a pitcher and added a few drops of conditioner. The kids helped me rinse the river rocks and aquarium plants under warm water. Meanwhile, my husband assembled the filter.At last, it was time to introduce the fish to his new home. The kids were getting excited, and I was congratulating myself on a fantastic idea. My husband gently poured Simon into the new aquarium. He swam around slowly, seeming to take in his new surroundings. After a few minutes, I took a closer look. “Hon, why are his gills flapping in and out so much? Is that normal?” I bit my lip. My husband shrugged. “Let’s try feeding him a few pellets,” he suggested. I carefully measured the pellets into my son’s stubby hand. Simon didn’t even seem to notice, however. He floated listlessly, sometimes near the surface, sometimes down among the rocks. I wasn’t sure either was a good sign. As the kids drifted off to play, I sat at the table and rested my chin in my hand. “Hon, what do you think we should do if the fish dies?” He grunted in response, “I dunno, buy them a new one?” DOZ Magazine | February 2019 “Well, that’s just it! Would I try to get a new one that looks the same and pretend it’s the same fish? Or should we begin to introduce the topic of death as part of the life cycle?” In the kids’ lifetime, we had not experienced a death in our circle of family and friends. Sure, we smashed bugs and spiders; the kids even yelled “I deaded you!” in their play fighting. But did they really understand what death meant for human beings? Obviously, the fish is not human, and it’s not even very high on the “similarity to humans” spectrum. But the loss of a pet could potentially open a can of worms that I was not sure I was ready to deal with yet. I wandered back to the fish tank. Lethargy abounded – if lethargy can abound. I threw in a pellet just in case, but still no response. The next morning, I barely had time to glance at our new aquatic vertebrate in the hustle and bustle of getting ready for school. As we rushed out the door, I gave the tank a small tap and was rewarded with a slight movement. Well, old Simon was still alive at the very least. When I returned home, Simon seemed to be in the exact same position. I went over and swirled the tank a little. His body looked limp, and I knew IT had happened. I disposed of him and washed out the tank. Should I or 34 shouldn’t I? Well, I had exactly an hour until school pick-up time. I made a hasty judgment: to make no judgment at all yet. I would dash to the store, install the new fish at home and think and pray about it as I drove to get the kids. Even as I was doing so, I came to a peace. “Just tell them the truth. The first fish died, and you got a new one,” I instructed myself. With every minute I was more conscious of the fact that the straight up truth was always best. My daughter climbed in and began chattering about her day as she buckled in. At the first pause, I said, “Honey, Simon died this morning. I think he was really sick when we got him because he wasn’t eating anything. So I went ahead and bought a new one, ok?” “Oh. He died? And you got a new one? Mommy, what does ‘Feliz Navidad’ mean?” As it was the middle of July, I have no idea from where that question popped up. I smiled and relaxed. Piece of cake. How wonderful that kids can adapt and move on so quickly! “But Mommy, did Simon go to heaven to be with Grammy’s mommy?” Dash it all! What was that my mother always said? Never count your chickens before they are hatched.