Well, it happened. Benjamin's fish went to the big fish bowl in the sky. He was a Beta fish that we've had for 18 months that defined our children as "pet owners" when they were asked if they had a pet.
Nathan had been praying every night for a pet. Amazingly, both Michael and I won a Beta fish at a banquet. Maybe not the pet he'd been praying for! I was upset because they'd used the fish as the table centerpieces and I felt it was horrible to use a live animal as decor. After all, we wouldn't put a puppy in a cage on a table and call it a theme, right? When we came home with the two fish, our boys were thrilled. Nathan named his Scruffy, and Benjamin called his Tuna. In a sad twist, Nathan's died just two weeks later. We held a small burial in the back yard and Nathan cried for a solid 24 hours. Benjamin renamed his fish Scruffy-Tuna in honor of the departed Beta and declared he would share with his brother. Scruffy-Tuna has lived a pampered life on the ledge over our stove top, being lovingly fed each day by Michael or the boys. The last couple of weeks he didn't look so good, and didn't seem interested in his food at all. Mike discovered the loss last night, and we broke the news to the boys this afternoon.
We held another burial, this one marked with far more tears from both boys. We all saw Marley and Me right after Christmas, so the boys got to see a family crying in grief over the loss of a pet, and they responded similarly. Especially little Ben, who was simply heartbroken. His constant tearful refrain was, "Now I don't have a pet!"
Not content to simply bury the fish, Benjamin gave each of us a sheet of paper and asked us to create something nice in honor of Scruffy-Tuna. We did, and then Ben placed them on the ground above the fish.
Nathan drew Scruffy-Tuna wearing a white robe and halo, and proving that he is a normal eight year old boy, a gun shooting the devil as Scruffy ascends to fish heaven. He wrote: Dear Scruffy, I hope you like heaven, have a good time, from Nathan. Michael also went with the heaven theme and actually drew Scruffy on his journey from his bowl into the pearly gates! Benjamin created a three dimensional sad snowman out of cotton balls because, "Scruffy-Tuna would like that." My contribution is lame compared to their heartfelt artwork!
I don't think we will be getting another pet in the immediate future. Michael is allergic to cats, our rental agreement prohibits dogs, and fuzzy rodents or scaly reptiles are not something I want to have in my house voluntarily. Mr. Rock is still Nathan's big obsession, so we may have to come up with some other inanimate object for Ben. We'll see.