Dorothy Juliet (named by Big Kid) passed away some time last night. I can't say I was surprised, because she started looking pretty sick a few days ago and I rushed out and bought Goldfish medicine, which we (read: Mr. Ashley) administered faithfully.
Before I put the kids to bed last night, I noticed she was floating on her side and gasping. I figured that was a bad sign, and made the mistake of telling the kids that Dorothy was really sick and might die.
That was dumb of me.
I envisioned some open discussion on the upcoming loss of our pet and some time for goodbyes. I got two kids running around the house wailing, sobbing and then threatening that if she did die it was my fault for predicting it. Mr. Ashley was also highly irritated at me when he emerged from the shower to find complete hysteria. He administered an emergency dose of medicine and I convinced the kids that I had no idea what I was talking about, I was not a vet, perhaps she was just tired, please disregard any prior mention of death.
Big Kid wept continuously and begged me to take a photograph of her. Here she is:
It's a telling photo--her uneaten dinner in the rocks around her, the smudges on the tank glass from where the water dripped during her last dosage of medicine, the safety scissors little kid gave her some time ago and her oyster nearby; staring into her own reflection pondering her imminent demise. Poor Dorothy.
That night as I was falling asleep, I resolved to just get a new Dorothy and keep her death a secret when it happened, even if it meant going through 20 Dorothys in a lifetime, to spare them the heartache of losing her. But they beat me to her in the morning. Mr. Ashley heard Big Kid saying, "I wonder what she's doing?" and little kid answered, "Sleepin," when Big Kid yelled that fish don't sleep and started screaming "MOM WAS RIGHT" as he sobbed and cried.
And cried and cried and cried.
He was mad at the world and sobbed that everything should live 500 million years. That life wasn't worth living if everyone didn't get to live 500 million years and he didn't want things to change or be different and he hated the idea of heaven and there shouldn't even have to be one.
I can completely relate to this feeling. As my dad starts chemo, the temporary nature of life and what a fickle bitch it is has been on my mind a lot lately. So I cried with him a little and told him I agreed but that it is what it is and since we can't change it, we can at least look forward to the idea of a heaven and having everyone we love together again.
Then I offered him a hermit crab or replacement fish of his choice. He sobbed that he could never have a fish again, that it would make him think of Dorothy all of the time, and it would die in like 2 years and he can't deal with it.
"A tortoise," he declared. "I need a tortoise. Dey live like a fousand years."
"But remember how the pet store doesn't sell turtles to kids? There's a reason for that. It's not a good pet for kids and they can be difficult to take care of. They need more than we can give them."
"But I'm da type of kid who needs a pet who isn't gonna die. I can be good wif a tortoise, I promise, mom. It will live like, a hundred years."
I turned the conversation back to crabs vs. fish because I frankly cannot handle the commitment (or smell) of a pet that might live one hundred years, and then I luckily had to leave for a meeting moments later, so I turned the kids over to my mom and they were thankfully distracted from the loss of Dorothy Juliet.
So tonight, we go to the pet store (coincidentally the same pet store that carries hedgehogs which I not-so-coincidentally plan on holding and begging for) and the kids get a pet.
Also, tonight I must go in search of an Arctic Fox. Big Kid's birthday is Saturday and that is his must-have gift--a Webkinz Arctic Fox named Arctie (NOT Artie, don't even suggest Artie). I will probably have to pay rush shipping from somewhere because so far this little bastard has been elusive.
Wish me luck.