Fare Thee Well JackAgain

Poor Jack is dead. Poor JackAgain is dead. I noticed him laying on the bottom of the bowl a few days ago, his untouched pellets swollen on the surface of the water. This is not unusual for JackAgain. He will sometimes lie on the bottom of the bowl for days at a time as if sleeping or in deep thought, only to startle when the glass is tapped and then sink back down to the bottom.
This picture taken 2.5 years ago
I think he was always prone to depression, a little fish stuck in a bowl with no chance of escape.

When I tapped on the glass this time, his lifeless body just swayed with the motion of the water but nary a fin did he flap. I tried again, this time noticing that his body seemed to be covered in sort of a waxy film.

So I told the kids. They took it okay. Laylee was off and running in a few seconds. Magoo seemed fine until suddenly he was not. His eyes filled with tears. “JackAgain is dead?” he cried. “Yes buddy, I’m afraid he is. But it’s okay. It’ll be okay.”

Magoo reached out for some mama loves and I picked his giant boy body up in my arms and held him like a baby. Seeing the attention he was getting, Laylee came running over. “I can’t believe he’s dead,” she faux-sobbed in a voice vaguely reminiscent of a half-way decent impression of real sadness. “I just can’t believe it. Oh JackAgain!”

My eyes did not do a full roll. They just sort of drifted heavenward and my eyelashes only fluttered a bit as I reached out a hand to touch her un-Oscar-worthy play-grieving arm. “Yeah. We’ll sure miss him,” I lied.

So we held a bowl-side flush funeral for the fish. Dan asked for advice on what he should say and we came up with a Finding Nemo meets The Lion King sort of Christian sermon about how all drains lead to the ocean and he’ll then be eaten by a bigger fish in the great circle of life but his spirit will live on in fishy heaven. You see, I have a firm belief in an afterlife and resurrection but I’ll be darned if I could explain exactly what JackAgain’s spirit was doing at that moment. Honestly I didn’t much care.

I have disliked that fish with a fervent dislikishness since nearly the day we brought him home almost THREE YEARS AGO. We had gone through a series of fish rather rapidly. They would die or eat each other and we’d get a new one. I was sick of cleaning fish poop out of the bowl but each time I’d cave and buy another to quell Laylee’s grief. When she was 3, it was more believable.

The day I bought JackAgain, I told Dan he was the last fish I’d ever buy. In 3-6 months when he kicked the bucket, I was done. The kids loved him for about 2 minutes every couple of weeks when their friends were over but other than that, it was just me, Jack, and the stinking bowl of fish ish. He couldn’t do anything cool. I sensed he was unhappy in his little glass prison. He looked weird. My confessions of periodically forgetting to care for him earned me nasty comments from pet lovers who felt I should not be allowed to reproduce considering my inhumane treatment of Betta fish.

At some point, around when I read the first book in the Twilight series, I began to wonder about how he was living so long. Maybe he wasn’t alive but some sort of undead fish who would “live” forever, pooping and tormenting me, long after my children were grown and gone.

Apparently he was un-undead because now he’s actually dead and I think we all know that’s impossible for an un. I can’t say there wasn’t some glee as I cleaned out his bowl for the last time, running his little glass rocks and plastic plants through the dishwasher to remove any deadness that might have rubbed off on them.

Since he left no last will and testament, his home and other personal effects will be donated to my neighbor Natasha, the marine biologist, to be used in some sort of humane and deeply noble project that will possibly absolve me from openly admitting my failure to love one of God’s creatures.

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15 Responses to Fare Thee Well JackAgain

  1. Heffalump says:

    I am waiting for our parakeet to die. That is way worse than waiting for a fish to die. I do try to remember to feed the bird and all that, but sometimes I don’t think about it because my husband usually does it.
    I am just done with pets…when this one is gone. Only it sure is living a long time!

  2. allysha says:

    Oh, dear Jack Again. Well, so long!

    Glad to have you back, DYM!

  3. FarmWife says:

    We had an undead goldfish that lived for nearly four years. We called him The Goldfish That Will Never Die. I cannot tell you how shocked I was when he actually died. I swore we were done with fish in the FarmFamily household, but alas I did not have the forsight to rid us of his bowl.

    After some rather major dental work on our four year old, his dad decided he needed a trip to the pet store to ease the pain. We now have two Betas, Leonardo & Marie. They live in seperate bowls next to each other & like JackAgain are loved for about 2 minutes every week by everyone except Bitsy who loves her “dishies” everytime she’s high enough to see over the counter top.

  4. aimee says:

    Too funny! We had a goldfish that lived for 3 or 4 years when I was younger. It was amazing! Here’s to your fish-free days!

  5. Pam in Utah says:

    Our dog of over 13 years passed not long ago, and we miss her but are so glad she’s not in pain any more. She was the best dog ever.

  6. grammyelin says:

    Well, I hate to say it out loud…but fish are just not that lovable in general.

    There is no hugging. No petting. No being followed around in puppy-like devotion. They are just fish.

    I will admit that some of ours seem to have distinct (and slightly weird) personalities; but it all takes place on the other side of the glass, so it doesn’t really impact my life. Thank goodness I am not the one who gets to clean the aquarium. Now that would be life-impacting.

  7. cyndi says:

    I say you’ve given him a fine tribute, maybe more than he deserved considering that he overstayed his welcome 😉 I was about to cave on an animal, so thank you for the reminder that it better be something I like! Happy week!

  8. Emilee says:

    Thank You for making me feel better about my non-love for Goldie (last years preschool field trip) and Pirate (this years preschool field trip). I totally relate to 2 min of love per week and annoying cleanings. May you be blessed for putting up with a fish for THREE YEARS! I’m hoping to make three months

  9. Mara says:

    Fish work best when there are lots of them. One beta in a bowl… boring, sad, and gets all weird looking. Ten little fish in a 20-gallon tank are much more fun– they interact with each other and their environment a lot more! It is a lot to clean every week, though…

  10. oh, you are going straight to H-E-L-L for your feelings! not loving fish?? Oh come on, roasted on a plank with a little lemon sauce. I love fish! 😛

    no, I can totally relate. even as a kid, i got tired of the dying, the dying. oy.

    here’s to both of us being live fish-free!

  11. Ree says:

    Did you place a rose in the toilet before the flush?


  12. elliespen says:

    Well, at least he wasn’t suicidal, right? When I was in second grade my fish took a flying leap out of the tank only to start swimming around again when my mom dumped it in the toilet to flush it. Hijinks ensued, and I’m amazed to think now about how much my mom must have loved me to actually fish my stupid fish out of the toilet rather than just flushing it as she must have longed to do. Come to think of it, though, when that fish died a year or so later of more natural causes we never did replace it.

    On the other hand, my younger sister, thus having missed the life aquatic at our house, recently decided to get a fish for her son. The fish lasted exactly seventeen hours from store to toilet. So I guess you never can tell.

  13. Kerrie says:

    In college, I had two fish: Heimlich and Bob. It was nice to have some life in my very, very, very old and lonely dorm room. My boyfriend (now husband) and I were going away for the weekend, so I took their tank over to my husband’s fraternity house because one of his “brothers” had agreed to fish-sit for me. We put them in one of the small bedrooms that was rarely frequented and mostly used for storage. Of course, someone went in the room over the weekend and opened the window. Did I mention it was the middle of winter…in Pullman? It snows there — a lot. Poor Heimlich and Bob.

  14. Janel says:

    I have never heard anything more true that “2 minutes every couple of weeks” when friends are over! I’m glad I learned my lesson about pets on a fish, as well, and not another more labor-intensive animal. I have kids that allow me to meet my quota of that kind of labor-intensive activity.

  15. DaddyD says:

    My brother went through about 10 goldfish named “Twain” until he was comfortable telling his son why “Twain” was sleeping all the time.

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