I've been putting off giving my fish away or letting her go for about a year now. I've had that fish for 8 or 9 years. Goldie is very special to me. But Dad's been bugging me for a year to get rid of her, either by giving her to someone else or by setting her free in a lake. Neither option sounded too good to me.
This morning, Dad tells me that the fish tank light is out and that instead of spending money to buy a new one, he wants me to get rid of my fish. "Keeping that fish in that tank is like keeping you in this house," he explained. "One day you're just gonna have to let it go." He gave me several ideas of where to set it free, stating that that was what I should do instead of giving it to someone else to take care of. "I purposefully didn't clean the water recently so you can see what it looks like when no one takes care of it." I kept the tears at bay, not wanting to cry over something as trivial as a fish.
But she's not just a fish...she's one of my last links to childhood.
I struggled with what to do for most of the day. I even walked into the yard next door, the vacant lot with the chest-high weeds and the giant pond with about 87 frogs. I walked around the pond, choking back tears, investigating whether or not this was the right place to let my Goldie go. So many frogs...not sure about any goldfish, or other fish for that matter, but there were definitely frogs! After a moment of blinking and swallowing, I whipped around and marched back to the house. It was time to grow up.
It may sound very melodramatic or juvenile, but I wanted to dress up for when I put Goldie in that lake. I put on the eye shadow and the eyeliner and the mascara and the blush and the lip gloss. I wore a nice skirt, a cute sweater, and tall boots. I even put a fun scrunchie in my hair (do people even call them that anymore?).
At first I filled a bowl with water to put Goldie in, but after a slight struggle getting her out of the tank, I realized the bowl wouldn't work. Frantically, as if she would die after being in a bowl of water for five minutes, I grabbed the next best thing: a giant vase. She was a little squished, but the water could always cover her. I took a few pictures, just to remember the moment, before gathering up my courage and proceeding with my resolve to grow up. Or at least, take care of my fish in the way that I should.
As I started hiking through the weeds, the tears started escaping. I was letting go of my childhood. I knew this. I won Goldie at a Calvary Chapel fair, which we haven't had for several years. Dad even said, "Don't even bother taking it out of the bag! Just set it in the sink because it'll be dead in three days." Boy did Goldie prove him wrong!
I finally made it to a decent clearing where there were hardly any weeds and there wasn't so much algae. By this time, I knew my mascara had smeared and that it was making my lashes stick together, but I really didn't care. I wasn't there to impress anyone but my fish, and I knew she wouldn't say anything. I poured the water from the vase and she squirmed some before she finally fell as well. She "landed" in the roots of the algae or whatever they were and just stayed there. That's when I began freaking out. "Goldie, please move!" I begged. "Please don't die now! Please move!" I reached for her, but as soon as my hand gently enveloped her, she began squirming. I tried several times to get her into more of the open water, until finally I managed to get a hold of her and gently toss her farther out. The good news was, she didn't immediately come to the surface. The bad news, (or at least what I consider to be bad news), I didn't see her swimming around either.
I stood there, staring at where I'd tossed her. By this time I was crying big, ugly sobs. My eyes were stinging from the mascara that had gotten into them, but I didn't do anything about it. "Please God, please take care of my fish!" I pleaded. "Please, please take care of her!"
The walk back was the hardest. It was hard to keep my eyes open because they stung so bad. I was pretty close to what you would call heaving sobs. It shouldn't be so hard, letting a fish go, but it was. It still is.
When I finally made it through the weeds back to my yard, I heard a wheezing sound and turned around, unsure of what caused it. To my amazement, a doe came prancing from the other side of the weeds and stopped short under the apple trees. We stared at each other, probably only twenty-five feet apart. She wheezed or hissed or something and jerked back and then stopped. I just stood there, clutching the vase in my arms and watched it, not sure of what to do. It took a couple of steps forward before wheezing again and prancing away. It leaped around the fire pit, through what used to be a garden and back over the wire fence into the weeds. I just stood there in shock. I'd never had an encounter like that before. After ten seconds, I saw it's head again and it came back out to the orchard, doing the same routine all over again. I suppose it had a fawn sleeping in the tall weeds or something, I'm not sure. After it leaped into the weeds the second time, I began to back away, still choking on my sobs.
I hate not knowing things...especially if my fish is okay. I wish it was like the cartoons, where she would wave goodbye or something, or where I could go and visit and bring fish food and she would come up to me, poking her head out of the water. But life isn't like a cartoon, it's not resolved in thirty minutes. Instead, life is a long, and sometimes agonizing, process. We learn a lot, but we fight those lessons so much.
As I was standing there, begging God to take care of my fish, I realized that I don't pray like that, with so much fervor or force for most other things. It's just, "God please help with this" or "God, I need peace about this" and so on. Nothing is ever done on my knees in such dire need. If I don't act like I need God in my normal prayers, do I really deserve being so childish in the trivial things? I know God doesn't always give us what we deserve, but He does have a line. A line I have crossed. A line that I now recognize and can adjust to accordingly.