Love Lives On

By Kara Richardson Whitely

I’m going to have to tell you a fish tale.

About two years ago, we moved into our house and we decided to get a fish. My kids had been begging for a pet. We couldn’t get a dog because I figured at the time that with a baby on the way, I couldn’t manage another big being to look after. We couldn’t get a cat because one of my brothers is severely allergic and having one in the house would mean he could never visit. We couldn’t get a chicken because it wasn’t allowed by local ordinances (even though I loved the idea of fresh eggs). We couldn’t get a turtle because, as it turns out, you can’t buy them in my home state of New Jersey.

So we opted for a Beta fish. When we brought this beautiful purple-and-blue being home, my oldest daughter, Anna, who was 7 years old at the time, decided to name him Love.

A fish with such a name made for some funny questions, which made us think a lot about love in our home:

“Has anyone fed Love?”

“Is Love still alive?”

Or if we are traveling, we ask, “What are we going to do about Love?”

Love has been such a wonderful part of our family.  He sat right on our kitchen countertop and swished around. And yes, we always fed love.

I should say this fish has lived despite being a part of our family. While it was technically Anna’s task to clean the fish tank, this job often fell to me. So right before a trip, I enlisted my 4-year-old daughter Emily to help clean the rocks in his tank one by one as I replaced the water.

When the tank was sparkling clean, we poured the fish back in, but the force of going from one bowl of water to another pushed Love to the bottom of the tank, where he stayed. He was still. Then, to my horror, he floated near the top of the water.

I didn’t want to tell my daughters and husband that I killed Love. I told Emily that he was just resting. I worried that we were going to have to flush Love down the toilet.

Simply put: I was heartbroken.

When I picked up Anna and told her what had happened, she wanted to check the fish out for herself. She tapped on the tank, saw one fin moving and then another. Love migrated slowly from one side of the tank to another.  Love was alive.

It seems he needed time to heal. It made me realize how quickly I give up on things.  Also, how quickly I blame myself for things that aren’t my fault.

Thank goodness my daughter was resilient. And prevented me from committing fish murder. Because of her, Love lives on.

Follow Kara on Connect @gorgegirl15

Read more posts from Happy Trails.