We had a loss in our family this past week. We lost one of our goldfish. Kaden got 3 goldfish for his 2nd birthday, and one died soon after that. These other two have lasted for a year and a half. My family is notorious for raising goldfish for a long time- I think my brother's goldfish lived for about 13 years before he died! On Thursday morning I noticed that one of the fish was swimming on its side... not a good sign. When I went to put Kaden down for his nap, I said outloud, "uh oh" when I saw this: (I'm pretty sure fish aren't supposed to float upside down at the bottom of the tank)
Kaden of course asked me what was the matter and I told him bluntly, "your fish died, buddy." He immediately wanted to see it. He was quiet and then jumped on his bed and threw his blanket over his head. Then he started bawling. Not just a little fake cry or a sad whimper. Bawling. Sobbing. He was SO sad. My heart just broke for my little man. I never knew he had such an attachment to his fish, considering he doesn't really pay attention to them much and I end up feeding them (when I remember.... oops! I promise they were fed that day, though! :) He started asking a lot of questions about his fish- how he died (to which I responded that he was old and sick). Of course each question I answered led to more questions about why he was sick, and why goldfish sometimes die. Kaden wanted to call Andy at work to tell him, and when Andy didn't answer his phone, Kaden left a message that went something like this: "Dad, it's Kaden. My fish died. Call me back." Adorable. Daddy called back soon after and the two of them arranged to go to Meijer that night to buy a new fish, which seemed to cheer him up. Kaden ended up crying himself to sleep for a nap that day and fell asleep with his blanket on his head- I promise I checked to make sure he could still breathe.
At night Andy and Kaden went to get a new fish at Meijer for a whopping 19 cents. Andy cleaned the tank and put the new fish in there. We thought we had solved this tragedy. 5 minutes after he went to bed, we heard Kaden crying in his room. Andy went in there and I could hear Kaden saying, "I don't want Frankie (name of the new fish), Daddy. I want the other fish that matches (the other 2 goldfish looked more alike in size and color)." He then just started sobbing and sobbing again. I got all choked up again when I heard him say that. It killed me to know that my child was so saddened by something. He eventually fell asleep after Andy sat in there with him for awhile.
Going through this whole experience made me think about how kids deal with grief. Even with the small loss of a goldfish, they process the absence of something they loved, and feel genuine sadness as a result. A small scale of what we as adults may experience when we lose someone we love. While we might chuckle someday about the loss of his little goldfish, right now I'm choosing to let this experience teach me a lesson. Enjoy the small moments with your children when they show genuine, innocent emotion. These moments show us that they are real people inside those little bodies.