Saturday, July 18, 2009


It has been a long time coming, but we are facing death straight in the face. One of our fish, Isaac, is dying (he's the orangy one in the forefront).

The two koi joined our family 2 years ago when we dipped our toes into pet ownership for the first time. That is if you don't count the long succession of caterpillars that served as pets until the koi came along. And it was a deliberate attempt to distract the kids from the fact that we were not getting a puppy.

I'm not sure if these koi are the same kind you put in ponds, but they're pretty long-living for fish. We were gifted the 2 scaly ones from a friend (S, a Bad Cop) who had long ago upgraded to a dog and the fish sat on their bathroom counter for years simply refusing to die.

So this charming pair came to live with us along with tank, filter system, and all the necessary accoutrements. The orange one, the designated boy, was named Isaac, which is Jackson's middle name after my maternal grandfather. His tank partner, the designated girl fish, was named Anna after my paternal grandmother's name. I do love symmetry.

Anyway, Isaac has shown signs of slowing down lately and not eating a lot. Today he alternated between lying down on some plants and floating near the surface.

I gathered the kids near the tank and gave them the news that Isaac was very sick and maybe dying.

Sydney went back to watching cartoons.

Jackson went back to the computer.

But I could tell that Jackson was affected by the high-pitched-trying-not-to-cry voice that he told us he was going back to his game. I went to the den a few minutes later and he said:

"We can get another Isaac. It's not like koi are endangered".

Sydney continued to lie on the couch.

Jackson came to the tank periodically to check on Isaac who most mostly floating throughout the tank with occasional spurt of energy when he would swim upside down. I, myself, found it a bit hard to watch. "What do you think we should do?" I asked, not exactly sure what to expect.

"We should call the real owners." I sent an email to S.

"Maybe Isaac is just sick and he'll get better." Sydney ventured.

"Isaac isn't sick. He is old. Everything dies once. Even people." Jackson was mostly trying to convince himself.

"We need to get Isaac out before he makes Anna sick" Sydney interjected.

Oh, that's why Sydney isn't showing much emotion. Isaac is Jackson' fish.

Well, if you said ownership had anything to do with caring for the pets, Husband would have the only claim as owner as he cleans the tank, buys the supplies and does all fishy tasks. The kids mostly only take an interest when their friends come over and are fascinated by the big fish.

After some googling on what we are to do with Isaac s he seemed very much on death's door, we asked Jackson if he wanted to bury Isaac in the yard or if "Daddy should take him out of the tank". We were purposefully vague on the details.

"Daddy can take him out. What should we name our next fish?"
Later, when Isaac was no longer showing any signs of life, Jackson expressed an interest in getting him removed. Husband bravely removed him from the tank, thankfully without incident. Poor Anna.

Jackson decided he wanted to make a gravestone. Husband is not too excited about burying the fish in our yard (a lot of animals around here) so I floated the trial balloon that maybe we could put up the gravestone to remember Isaac, but we didn't have to actually bury him.

"Mommy", Jackson said quite impatiently, "we're not making the gravestone to remember Isaac, we're making the gravestone so that if we want to see him again, we'll know where to dig him up".

I certainly hope you can rest in peace Isaac.

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