My kids’ fish died last night. We’d only anticipated the damn thing sticking around for 2-3 weeks….four years ago, so needless to say, he lived a long happy life.
Obviously a fish doesn’t have the presence of a dog, or a turtle or even a surly, but stand-offish cat…but Clifford the Fish was one of us. The kids would eagerly bound down the stairs each morning to see who’d be the first to throw a pellet or two of food his way and then watch him swim for a bit before getting ready for school. His stroke had slowed a bit over the past few weeks so it wasn’t a surprise but when we looked up yesterday and realized that he was stuck on his side, marooned on a decorative rock like a half forgotten shipwreck, I was a little alarmed.
I shed a tear…for a fish. You can roll your eyes, it’s ridiculous, I know. But Clifford’s imprint on our family was like so much of what parenting in stages has been to me: a surprise (the gift from a friend) that I begrudgingly got on board with and then learned to feel comfortable with despite myself. I found my groove and just like that, it was time to transition again. Everything is cyclical, no matter how hard you dig in your heels and try not to move, the world keeps turning. So, as I sit and look at the empty bowl and wonder when I’ll be hounded back to the pet store, I’d just like to send a fishy, heavenly shout out to Cliff, my undersea OG, for all he’s taught us about responsibility, love and perseverance.
You were a man of few words, Clifford, but your silence spoke volumes.