Grieving Over Gussy
My wife’s name popped up on the screen on my iPhone. I slid the digital slider and boringly said Hello.
Panic-like wailing was on the other side of the line.
“You need to come home.”
My heart started pounding. “What?”
“You need to come home dad. Ad;fkycjlkj died.”
Blood started racing through my entire body. “What? Who died?”
My mind raced trying to figure out which human is dead.
Grandma, Grandpa, my wife, one of my children.
The urgency for me to get home was unbearable.
“What are you saying? Who died?”
Kennedy cried, “Gussy died. I heard mom tell Elias that Gussy is dead.”
Instant relief. My heart rate slowed, but still felt like passing out. The humans I loved were alive. It was a fish that died. Gussy was the family Betta fish. We had this blue creature for about a year. Kennedy named the fish Gussy on the day Molly brought it home.
I drove home, stepped out of the suburban and walked into the house. Kennedy greeted me at the door with tears and a hug. I asked her to take me to Gussy.
Gussy had been taken out of the fish bowl and was resting in a small ceramic bowl filled with a cup of water.
We placed Gussy at the base of our gas fireplace. In quietness, each family member sat in the living room. Kennedy rested next to Gussy. I stood and walked towards Gussy and said a few words about how I enjoyed watching Gussy swim each morning. Molly stood up and walked towards Gussy and told us that when she went to the pet store in hopes of finding a Betta fish for the family that Gussy greeted her with swimming flips and twirls at the glass. She signaled to the PetSmart employee and said this is the one I want. Elias did not have any words to say. He was smirking in the corner. Laura stood and talked about Gussy’s happy face. Taylor and Bree followed suit.
Kennedy was last to share her thoughts. She stood and began talking about how Gussy was her friend. She told us about how every time she fed Gussy in the morning it would swim towards her and smile. She shared her affections for Gussy while tears gently fell down her dry cheek. Each family member, including the two youngest, looked at each other as we recognized the depth and ache of Kennedy’s loss.
After these words were shared, the family attempted to sing “All Creatures of Our God and King.” I forgot the lyrics so we hummed the melody. Then Bree insisted that we sing, “The wise man built his house on the rock.”
Elias found a gardening shovel and started digging a grave in the flower bed. He went about three inches deep and placed a circle of rocks on the edge of the hole.
After the girls put their shoes and jackets on, Kennedy picked up the white ceramic bowl that contained Gussy. We formed a funeral procession and walked outside to the gravesite.
As we huddled around, Laura took out a handful of blue aquarium rocks from her pocket that she gathered from Gussy’s fishbowl and laid them at bottom of the grave. We then poured Gussy’s body onto the blue rocks. Molly shredded a plant from the fishbowl and handed a piece to each of us. We placed our plant pieces over Gussy. Taylor opened a container with fish food. We each grabbed a pinch and fed Gussy for the last time. I thanked God, for creating and giving life to Gussy. We said our final good-byes and covered Gussy with dirt.
Before returning to work, I held and hugged my grieving daughter. I was so thankful for my boring day.