Just Keep Swimming

The golden fins ripple the crystal waters as the creatures dart across the tank
Poking out their heads between a rock’s crevice and
pursing their mouths, begging for a flake of food.

About a year ago, Frank and I purchased two goldfish, Professor and Skipper 2. (Gilligan and the first Skipper are swimming in heaven’s rivers.) We can’t have a dog in our apartment, there are regulations. The facility allows one cat, but our mothers are more important and that nixes any chance of having cats. (My mom would wind up in a hospital from the cat dander. She has before. I’d rather have her visit than have a cat, as strange as that sounds at times.) As such, we bought fish. These are our pride and joy. For a couple that has struggled to conceive, these are our babies.

I’ve had friends lose furry creatures recently. I was devastated when we lost Gilligan. We had him for about 6 months. I’ve never had fish last longer than 2 weeks. People say that losing a fish isn’t as sad as losing a four-legged beast. For us that isn’t true. We can’t have those other pets. We’ve invested money in these gill-possessing things. You can call us strange, because frankly it is, for reading to our pets. We play tag with them by watching them swim across the tank and pressing our fingers against the glass whenever their tails graze the edge. They are just as much a part of our family as a meowing or barking friend would be. Yes we don’t have to call a babysitter because we can drop a 10 day feeding circle into the tank when we go away, but they still need to be cared for. (That reminds me, I need to feed them when I get home…poor babies, they’ll be starving!) That’s why I get upset when insensitive people who don’t quite understand our plight and tell us that losing one of them wouldn’t be heartache. It has been for us (when we lost Gilligan) and will be whenever Skipper 2 passes away, regardless of the fact that they only cost 14 cents. Cost doesn’t matter when it is a friend. I don’t get upset over losing ones we’ve had for a couple of days, but several months, yes I get sad.

I never expected them to live this long. Skipper 2 has become accustomed to Professor’s nipping. I’ve stopped scolding Professor (yes, I scolded him for antagonizing his brother). They are our friends, our children, our pets all at the same time. We’ve had them for a year, longer than the time it takes to gestate a human baby. In a few days they will have a birthday party. They helped us mourn the loss of our miscarriage. They are a source of comfort since conceiving has been so hard for us. You can think us crazy, but these scaled friends have helped us continue stroking through the turbulent waters of infertility and loss. God has blessed us with the ability to own these aides and we are grateful for their comfort. We will continue to invest in the pets that have assisted in our healing and defend their importance because of their role in our lives.

Thank you Professor and Skipper 2. I know Frank loves you both as much as I do. The world may think us strange, but doesn’t it already because we are radical Jesus followers? Why not sprinkle on a little bit more criticism because we cherish you? We won’t stop being grateful as we pray you keep on swimming, and with each tail spin keep winning our affection.

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