Tonight we had to say goodbye to our little friend Nemo. We've had him almost the whole time we've lived here--two years and two months. In 2006 at the Chalk Art Festival in Salt Lake, Jarom ran off and came back holding a tiny goldfish in a plastic bag. He had played some game--on his own--and was rewarded with the fish. Jarom decided to name him "Finding Nemo," though we really only called him Nemo.
That day we bought a fish bowl and some basic supplies. Bowls are a very bad idea for fish. The water turned orange every three days and Nemo barely survived. But he grew from an inch to six inches in no time. He outgrew the bowl before we knew it. (If you ever get a fish, *please* don't use a bowl.)
For Amy's birthday that year (four months later), her wonderful best friend Michelle bought us a 2.5-gallon tank. He's been in it ever since. The first winter we used to leave the light on at night to heat the water, though that must have confused poor Nemo because he doesn't have any eyelids and he probably always thought it was daytime! Finally I bought him a little heater. The first heater burnt out so now we're on our second, but it's kept his water toasty during freezing cold winters.
For his first birthday we bought him a little skeleton with a treasure chest that's been in there ever since. We used to feed him skinned cooked peas and he absolutely loved them. He played with the pea halves like balls. Amy called him our little dolphin. He had beautiful fins that were elaborate and fancy. The first time Claudia (Amy's mom) came to visit, she remarked how pretty a goldfish he was. And it was true. He would change color, and could turn the most wondrous sunset orange
He knew me--his feeder. No joke. Whenever I walked in the kitchen he'd come attacking the glass, wiggling back and forth furiously. If it were up to him he'd eat all day long. We had to practice restraint just to make sure we didn't overfeed him. If you put your fingers in the tank he'd nip at them, gently. Before the skeleton was in there, there was a little cave/cove that he would swim through and hang out in.
Jarom asked almost every day if he could feed him, and Amy always had to assume I already fed him and say, "Wait till Daddy gets home." Jarom loved to feed Nemo. Orion--being our outdoors/animals boy--could watch him for hours. He would point up at the counter and say "ishie" so that Amy would hold him up and let him watch Nemo swim. I bought an automatic feeder for him when we were gone on long trips. He was the first thing I would check when we got home, rushing into the kitchen and nervously throwing the light switch on, and he'd always start swimming right at me.
He was the toughest little guy. He survived that tiny little bowl, two Utah winters and (almost) three Utah summers, Jarom pouring way too much food in there, being left for a week at a time, and he survived bouts of fin rot and badly ph-balanced water (my fault). He could take anything.
But today something was wrong. His right pectoral fin was completely missing. Whether this was due to an accident (with the filter?), fin rot, or some parasite, we'll never know. But he couldn't swim, not at all. He was curved up like a C, swimming in spirals or being sucked up to the filter. He was pale white. We know Nemo when he's sick, and when he's recovering. I've actually gone through a few sleepless nights (I know, I know) where I'm very worried about him surviving. Amy would keep watch and call me the next day at work to give me updates. But today was worse than these other times. We knew he was dying, and it was actually extremely hard to deal with (hence this blog). So late tonight, I opted to euthanize him, the freezer way, which is peaceful--no flushing, no chopping. Tomorrow we will bury him in the yard in a little box.
I only ever took one picture of him. I took it thinking we would want one if/when he ever died. See goldfish, when they're well taken care of, can live a very long time. Up to 20 years and beyond. We always pictured him with us as the kids grew up and afterwards, just taking good care of our one little fish, our little buddy. Well, it's not a good picture, but here he is. You can see his pirate skeleton below him.
It's really sad. He was seriously our friend. It's only good if it hurts--that what I say, and Nemo was good for us, a fun little blessing and a great part of our family. Who knew one tiny goldfish could do this? Well it's true. We'll miss you Nemo! You are loved. And I like to think that the good things we love will always be with us, and will somehow be experienced by us again.
Sorry for the touching fish blog, but I'm just being honest. I couldn't help it.