I love Nemo. I am so glad they found him. He inspired a project which delved us into pet care last summer. It was an exercise to prove to my children that they were not ready for the responsibility of a dog. That is to say- I am not ready to have to feed and provide medical care for one more creature. So instead we ended up with 4 aquatic pets.
Bella's fish has been trying to die since the day we got it. It started off a beautiful bright red betta fish with her matching red headed temper. We set him up in a divided container shared with Lily's bright blue and purple betta fish. He used to flare his gills and exert all kinds of alpha male dominance, which is pretty funny considering he is a beta. ba donk donk. So after about a week, I decided the little container was stifling for two of them, and got another little container. The red fish became depressed and started hovering at the rocks. I changed water frequently and nothing worked until I put the two containers next to each other again so he could flare at the blue fish. One fish two fish, red fish blue fish- I thought every time I walked into the kitchen. Then the blue fish started looking sick and I was tired of changing water- so I got them each a bigger tank with a filtery bubbly thing. Really it was for convenience. After a few months, the novelty wore off- I was the only one who fed, watered and changed the collective tanks. Phillip's fish was the first to go. There wasn't much warning. We gathered around the porcelain tomb and wished him well on his journey in the fishy afterlife. A few months later- Lily's fish began to pale and show signs of sickness. We treated the water. And by we, I mean me. We tried pea treatments- frequent water changes- the whole kit and caboodle. On all Hallow's Eve, appropriately enought- blue fish ceased to be- shall we say- swimmy? Red fish was never the same. Meanwhile- Kiera's fish sits up in her room in the same water it was in about 6 months ago, algae clouding the sides of the tank- happy as can be.
Everyone has limits. I have about reached mine. I'll admit, I didn't change the water as much as I should have and I probably didn't feed red fish as much as I should have. I talked to him daily- and he would always swim to greet me as I got Lily's medicines ready in the morning. He would wiggle by and say hi as I packed lunches, did dishes and started counting carbs. He would swoosh past the side as we gathered needles and supplies for insulin shots. Shortly after I started counting carbs for Phillip- I wondered how many carbs were in this little red fish. That was when I knew my attachment to him was gone. When basic needs stop being met- when tension and exhaustion levels match- we get to a point we do things we aren't really proud of. Things we would never do in a perfect world.
Stupid red fish continued to burrow into the rocks. Sometimes he would get trapped and we would help him out. Last night he burrowed. I was done. I spent the last week getting up nightly to check on pancreas boy. Then Saturday night, I got sick. I went to bed early to be woken at 1030 by pancreas boy who also was sporting a good case of the runs. We hadn't eaten the same thing at all that day- so I figured it was a virus. There is always something floating around in a house with 4 kids. An hour later I hear crying and moaning. Lily has a sore neck and shoulder. I feel her- she feels warm, but is bundled up- she quiets- I go back to bed.Phil wishes me Happy Mother's Day- as it is now past midnight. I snort at the irony. An hour later it begins again. This time she is hot. I double dose her with hydrocortisone and give her motrin for the aches. I rub her back for an hour until she fitfully falls back to sleep. As I flop back into bed, Phil asks if I want to know what my Mother's Day Present is. I know what it is not- a good night's sleep. No, No I don't. As I drift off- I hear Pancreas Boy pad into the bathroom. Yep- one of those nights.
In the morning, Lily is achey, Phillip is sick. Kiera departs our household as soon as humanly possible. I can't say that I blame her. I begin the day's balancing act of sugars and insulin and hydrocortisone and ketones and love. I worry constantly and try to escape into pages of books. As I pass by the tank, red fish is face down wedged in the rocks again. This time you are on your own buddy. Let us see what squirt will do. I walk away. Later on- I check- little gill movement- pale color. He's probably not gonna make it. Phil taps on the side- nothing. I debate momentarily as I go off to bed, helping him out. But I am tired. I barely reach the stairs before Phillip is throwing up again, I don't give red fish another thought. I have enough directions to worry about.
This morning red fish is dead. All I can feel is relief. I start dismantling the pump so we can dump him as soon as Bella wakes up. I dump some of the water and shift the rocks to free him. He thuds back to the bottom. I dump most of the water. I am mixing tea with honey for Phillip when a little arm wraps around my leg. Is my fish dead mommy? Yeah babe- I'm afraid so. Little tears pool in her blue eyes. Can I dump him in the potty? Yeah- let me get the rocks out of the tank- I don't want them in the potty. I dump the fish into a secondary container and he appears to swim. Oh crap. See mommy he was just sleeping! I look at his gills. There is slight movement. I look at Phil who is gathering Lily to go to the hospital for her scans. He says- no hunny he's dead- it just looked like swimming because the water was moving. I nod. She carries Red fish into the bathroom. She dumps him in and I flush mid dump to make sure he is swept away. As I think about it- I know he wasn't going to make it. Sometimes we just keep swimming because that's all we know how to do. Even when all the powers that be stack against us and are trying to flush us into a great abyss- sometimes you just have to keep swimming.