If you missed my chat with Ni'cola Mitchell, you can watch it now! This is a must see interview.

Goodbye Angel: The Fish Funeral

Sunrise: September 15, 2013

I’m not sure why, but I didn’t go to church that Sunday. The husband can’t stand it when I don’t go to church, so I think the purchase of not one, but two fish was his way of punishing me – subliminally of course.  I told him I thought that was what he was doing, but he just smiled and went to set up the bowls for each kid.

After everything was all set up, I went in to meet and greet the new finned family members… Ashton and Angel.  Ashton was what I expected out of a beta fish. He was a bright, iridescent blue, a strong swimmer with big fancy fins trailing behind him.  Then there was Miss Angel.  She was small.  Really small… and pink… kinda sickly looking if you ask me. But nobody asked me. I didn’t go to church, so I had no say in the purchase. I could have talked her into getting a fish like Mr. Social’s – strong, with flowy fins.  Apparently, the girl fish didn’t come with the fancy fins, and Baby Girl had no intention of having a male roommate again after finally getting Mr. Social out of her room once and for all.

For her, Angel was perfect – small and pink. She set her up in her bowl with pink glass marbles on the bottom, and pink plastic seaweed that looked like a tree of sorts.  She imagined that all her fishy little brain could think about was glitter and mirrors.  I mean she was BORN pink – charmed right from the start. Baby girl decided that the perfect place for her was on the powder table. The shiniest spot in her room…. and there was a mirror.

Sunset: December 6, 2013

This morning, I awoke to screams…. well… I opened one eye.  Seemed like the usual “daddy did something funny” or “the Cheerios are finally gone so we can have Fruit Loops” kind of screams, so I closed that eye back.  Then Mr. Social comes and jumps on my bed.

“Eden’s fish looks like THIS!”

**dead fish face**

I screamed. The only thing keeping the husband from hitting the floor was the tight grip he had on the doorknob. I don’t think I have laughed that hard since I asked them to demonstrate what “twerking” was (they clearly didn’t know what it was, but whatever they were doing was hilarious). I stopped laughing so that I could gasp for air, just in time to hear Baby Girl let out a scream of her own. It wasn’t the funny kind.  It was finally real.  It wasn’t her big brothers playing tricks on her like always… her Angel was dead. For real, for real dead.

A few moments later, the husband carried her into our room. He set her limp little body in my lap, and I lifted her chin up… two streams of tears. I shooed everyone out of the room so that we could talk.  Mr. Social was right outside of the door making the dead fish face. My husband pointed to Mr. Social and mouthed “get a picture of this later…” then closed the door behind him.

(I got the pic...)

This was really happening. I told her we would do this right. Since all of my kids like a production, I decided I’d take her mind off of her grief with a few suggestions for the final goodbyes.  I told her that we needed two things for the funeral… she perked up a little. I told her that she needed to write a eulogy that covered all of the things she loved about Angel, and all of the things that people who didn’t get a chance to meet Angel would find interesting. Then, she’d need a picture of Angel for the ceremony.  I hugged her a while, but she was definitely less limp then when she was first deposited on my lap by her dad… who still had to carry her back to her room.

The boys started class, while Baby Girl wandered around a little.  She sat on the couch and checked out the new timeshare magazine.

Baby Girl: ...wheelchair accessible.... I dunno what 'accessible' means - must be good. Mommy, I found an AWESOME hotel in PARIS!"

*20 minutes later – she has amazing focus*

Baby Girl: Mommy! There's a place in France called NICE!

Me: ...it is pronounced "neese"... but I am sure it IS nice.

She eventually got up and wrote the eulogy, and colored a portrait of Angel.

As the day progressed, her spirits lifted, and it was almost like nothing happened - but we all treated her with kid gloves anyway – secretly dreading the arrival of daddy. When he came in the door, there was the usual run and jump greeting, but it also meant funeral time.

I was just a year older than my Baby Girl is when the iconic Cosby Show episode, “Goodbye, Mr. Fish” aired on NBC. That was TV, and I had no intention of getting all dressed up for a deceased fish – however – the sadness was real for Baby Girl, and something had to be done about it.  So the husband found black coats for everyone, and I let her use my black sun hat. The Big One put the water on the stove to boil, and we all headed upstairs.

The husband had convinced her that if we buried her outside a cat could dig her up and eat her. She understood, and we gathered around the toilet.  Our bathroom isn’t Cosby Show sized, so it was a bit of a squeeze, but we all got in.

The Big One held the portrait of Angel while she read her eulogy.

"Angel was a fashionable fish, and a good friend, always staring at herself in the mirror. She liked a shiny thing or two, and didn't care to eat much either. I will never forget her, and no other fish that enters this house will replace her."

Everyone got a little misty.

Me: Daddy is about to flush Angel down the toilet, is there anything else you want to say before he does it?

Baby Girl: *peeks over the side of the cup* Bye… Angel.

The boys ushered her out of the bathroom, and hugged her in the hallway until the flush. After I got out of my coat, I peeked into her room and she was face down on her bed, black coat and hat still on.

I left her up there with her brothers comforting her, and went downstairs to put in the spaghetti. Then I heard…

Daddy: You know what always makes me feel better?

Mr. Social: Cars!

The Big One: Bacon!

Daddy: Twix…. Now put the whole thing in your mouth, cause you know your mom will flip out if she sees chocolate on anything up here – she’ll think its poop or something.

Eventually she made it down the stairs – minus the black coat and funeral sun hat. It’s movie night tonight, and in our house, movie night is serious business.  There was pizza to chomp, spaghetti to slurp, and a movie to watch.  The boys found some tape to put her picture of Angel up on her wall, and let her pick the movie, Turbo.

So we’re over here screaming again as usual… apparently the music in the credits is “twerk” worthy. “Twerking” around here looks a lot like “the sprinkler”, “the wop”, and the “Heavy D shake”…. Um… at once. You’re screaming now too aren’t you…? I knew it.

RIP Angel.

Check out my related post on Blogher: Where Black Folks Do Dat At: Why The Cosby Show Wasn't as Fake as You Figured

Author Profile: Eva Wilson  - Website

Eva the author of Anancy's Family Reunion, and the winner of the 2012 Black Weblog Awards for Best Parenting Blog and Best New Blog. Find her on Twitter at @socamomdc.

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