Little did I know when Dylan woke up crying this morning at 4am and simply said, “I want to be awake,” that my day would involve the complicated task of trying saving a life. When the sun finally rose and the coffee pot was empty, I walked into the boys’ room and discovered Oscar, our unusually large and majestic goldfish, floating at the top of the fish tank with a bloated belly and gasping for oxygen.
I’m not a fish person. My sister and I had goldfish when we were kids. We probably started with at least a half dozen of them, and they died one after the other. I remember the day that began with the last two fish alive and ended with one. I was so annoyed that I flushed them both. I’m not a sociopath. I just got tired of coming home every day to a dead pet. (Please keep in mind I was a child. I would definitely make a better decision if the same situation were repeated. I promise.)
Don’t worry, Mike takes care of ourfish. I keep my distance, except for feeding them when Mike is away. Besides Oscar, we have an algae eater named Al. We had two smaller goldfish that we called The Twins, but they died about a week ago from symptoms similar to Oscar’s (not a good sign for Oscar). Of course, Mike is in New York this week, so when I saw Oscar floating, I knew I was going to have to be the one to save him…or at least try.
It’s just a fish, right? I agree, but Mike feels differently. When I texted him about Oscar thismorning, his response was “Oh God” and then “I failed them.” When The Twins died, Mike suggested that maybe they got sick because we never gave them proper names. (His intensity and remorse remind me of another emotional creature in our family!) I knew I had to do something, but first I had to take Dylan to school and Riley to his two and a half year wellness check-up. That’s where I discovered another life that needed to be saved.
In the waiting room of our pediatrician’s office, I watched a mother (I’m assuming it was mom) pour soda into her son’s sippy cup. The boy was younger than Riley. A while later, she spanked him for not sitting down. How could a parent feed their baby soda? How could they expect the child to sit still after drinking a sippy cup full of sugar? I’m not suggesting people have to shop at Whole Foods, but the last time I checked, water was free. I saw this little boy’s junk food-filled life (and his mom’s) flash before me and I wanted to cry.
After I brought Riley back to school, I sped home to deal with Oscar. On Mike’s advice, I called the specialty fish store. They told me to bring a water sample to the store where the fish guy told me the nitrates were through the roof, the pHwas horrible, there was hardly any oxygen in the water and Oscar had “fishbloat.” None of this was good news.
It might have been too late, but I raced home with five gallons of fresh tank water (not free, by the way…it cost$12.99) and some medicine to drop in the tank once I replaced the bad waterwith the good.
It’s been a few hours and Oscaris still struggling, but he did eat some fish food for dinner. A good sign, I think. I just hope he makes it until Friday so Mike can say goodbye. I’m exhausted and cranky, and I can’t stop thinking aboutthe little boy at the doctor’s office, but at least I can feel good about what I did to (try to) save Oscar today.