For almost four years, I’ve had a goldfish named Manasseh. I bought him a few months after I graduated from college, while I was still living at my parent’s house. A year later I would move out, and have now moved five times in just under three years. At the beginning of June though, I got possession of a condo I bought. It’s mine. After years of transition and uncertainty, I get to stay here as long as I decide I want to. It’s been an exciting, scary, and overwhelming few months as all of this came together. And, during that time, my goldfish swam around his little bowl like he always had.
Except last Saturday I woke up to discover he was swimming no longer. I had fed him right before going to bed on Friday night, the same night the last of my furniture and possessions made the move to my condo, and he had seemed fine. A few hours later, he was gone.
He was a nineteen cent goldfish who, while I’d argue he swam to the side of the bowl when I walked into the room (probably because he thought he was going to get fed), had about a three second memory and no capacity for love or any meaningful feelings–I’m not losing sight of that. But he was also the only other living creature that has been with me through all my moves, and was by far my longest living goldfish. He also became my companion on a series of Christmas cards, to not only my own amusement but, I’m told, other’s as well. So my attachment to him goes far beyond what is normal, or some might say even healthy, for a pet of his ilk. His death, coming on the tails of a busy, complicated season of life with a lot of different emotions, has been One More Thing to process.
And so, because I have learned that if a thing has value it is worth mourning, I am mourning my goldfish a bit. Not beyond what he deserved, I hope, but I won’t pretend I don’t keep feeling like I’m forgetting to feed him and then get a little jarred when I remember I don’t have to anymore. He was a fish, sure, but he was part of the ritual of my life. It’s easy to dismiss all of this, because he was a nineteen cent goldfish after all, the kind most people feed to their other pets, not keep as pets themselves. A thing’s value shouldn’t come from its price point though–he had value because he mattered to me. While I suppose this may be a bit of circular reasoning, his death is sad because I will miss him.
Yet in a strange way, the timing of his death feels perhaps a bit fitting. Now that I’m in a setting I will hopefully be for a good while, maybe my place can be my constant instead of my pet.
Til next time…
p.s. Have you ever had something that, while its monetary value may not have been much, had a lot of value to you?