The Circle of Life
We knew that Pig was dying for about three months before we made that hard choice to put him down. Our 18-pound rabbit had been the most excellent pet and was loved dearly by his human younger siblings. Because Pig's tumor was visible, it was easy to talk to the kids about the cancer and prepare them for his death. Our eldest knew it was coming, understood and handled it with grace.
After I made the call to the vet's office for Pig's final visit the next week, I took my son to the local aquarium store. We had previously bought all the supplies for the tank, but our plans for an underwater kingdom got derailed after I forgot to wash the sand and turned all the water pitch-black. Four months and approximately 5 billion water changes later, the water was clear, and we were ready for fish.
My son and I spent over an hour painstakingly selecting each of the six perfect fish.
A friend asked whether I thought getting "fish of all things" was a good idea. Why wouldn't it be? Giving my son some life to look at might lessen the pain of losing a loved one. I responded, "Of course. I got my fish Mikey when I was his age, and he was my best friend for five years."
How come no one told me goldfish don't typically live that long?!
One day. They lived one day!
You know what doesn't help a grieving child? Six painstakingly selected dead fish.
I ran back to the aquarium store with a water sample, hoping it was some weird anomaly. Perhaps the people there had accidentally sold me spontaneously combusting fish and next time they would sell me live-for-a-decade fish. When they tested the pH levels of my sample, the nitrates or the ammonia or the Crystal Pepsi or whatever was in my water was off the charts. I would have to wait another two weeks if I didn't want another massacre.
While we waited, Pig was put to sleep. He was buried in the fairy garden in our front yard. The timing had not worked in our favor.