A lesson in death from Mr Orange Fish

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Alternate title: the one where I completely fail at my parental duty to explain life and death.

My mom and I facilitated a women’s retreat on Saturday and my mom used a gold fish as part of her message. Of course she had no interest in toting this gold fish home so she asked if Angel could just keep it. I’m pretty sure she asked in front of Angel so how could we say no?

We asked Angel on Saturday what she was going to name the fish. She decided on Mr Orange Fish.

Mr Orange Fish was looking a little funny on Saturday night but we said a prayer that he’d make it through the night and went to bed.

God always answers prayer but sometimes His answer is no.

We woke up Sunday morning and while getting ready for church I said something about Mr Orange Fish. Pat gave me the choking sign and I snuck out to the dining room to see that sure enough, Mr Orange Fish had gone to fishy heaven.

Pat and I debated about what to do and how to tell Angel. We figured now was as good a time as any to try to explain death and dying and what happens to fish when they float upside down in their bowl.

Angel (running over to greet her new pet): FISH!

Me: Does it look like there’s something wrong with him (how do I bring this up anyway?).

Angel: No.

Me (oh my word): Ok. Well Angel, Mr Orange Fish is dead.

Angel (poking at Mr Orange Fish): He looks funny.

Me: He’s not alive anymore honey. He died.

Angel: Uh uh, he’s sleeping.

Me: No honey, he died. Do you know what that means?

Angel: No.

Me: Well Mommy’s alive and Daddy’s alive and Grandma’s alive. But Mr Orange Fish isn’t alive, he’s dead (What in the world?).

Angel: Jesus is alive!

Me: Yes, He is! But Mr Orange Fish isn’t alive. He’s dead.

Angel: Ok.

Me: Should we have a funeral?

Angel: No (because obviously she doesn’t know what that means).

A few minutes later while eating breakfast I realized that I completely missed an opportunity to talk to Angel about loving Jesus and going to Heaven. I thought for a second she was too young but then again she can say and understand 4 syllable words so I figured I might as well not waste this opportunity.

Me: You know Angel that just like Mr Orange Fish everyone dies.

Angel: (blank stare)

Me: We will all die someday but if we love Jesus we will go to Heaven to be with God and Jesus.

Angel: (blank stare)

Me: Mommy loves Jesus and Daddy loves Jesus and Grandma loves Jesus and when we die we will go to heaven. Do you love Jesus?

Angel: Yep.

Me: (totally goes blank and has no idea how to wrap this up)

We go on to talk about having a funeral, trying to explain to Angel what a funeral is and then eventually everyone, including Angel agreed that the best thing for Mr Orange Fish is to get flushed down the toilet.

On the way to church a few hours later Angel asks where Mr Orange Fish is.

Me: Remember honey, Mr Orange Fish died and now he’s in heaven with Jesus.

Pat: Um, you better be careful what you say or she’s going to think the way to Jesus is through the toilet.

Later that day my mom talked to my dad and he asked why we didn’t just go to the store and get another Mr Orange Fish.  I suppose because that would have been the smart and easy thing to do and obviously after reading this post ya’all realize I’m not about the smart and easy.

(And this is where you imagine a picture of Mr Orange Fish because the one I took of him after he died was really creepy).

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One thought on “A lesson in death from Mr Orange Fish

    Jenny said:
    May 6, 2010 at 5:05 am

    Best line of the day: “you better be careful what you say or she’s going to think the way to Jesus is through the toilet” And yes, it is kind of creepy to take a picture of a dead fish! We recently had a woman from church that Josh knew die. I told him that her body stopped working, but her soul (how the heck do you explain THAT to a little one????) went to live with Jesus in Heaven. Best I could come up with at the time!

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