Precious Life

Since having the honor of being ordained a priestess, I have been called to perform two funeral ceremonies, both to our pets, both fish. Which might seem silly to some, but we sometimes learn from the smallest of creatures.
On Monday morning, I discovered Poro, aka Grape, dead in his tank. I waited to tell Elijah after he got home from school while on the toilet doing his “number two” because this is where we seem to have some of our deepest discussions. However looking back I feel foolish to have believed he would take this news better than he did the first time with his pet Sharkie.
“Elijah, I’m going to tell you something that might make you a little sad.” He looks up at me innocently with his doe eyes. “Poro died. ” I say maybe a little too freely. His face morphs into grief and his mouth is withdrawn and opens , yet no sounds escape him. Then the tears begin to well up and he lets out that first cry that seemed to have been stuck in his throat.
“But I love Poro” he cries. We get out of the bathroom and he runs to the tank. “Aw. My Poro! Is it because you forgot to feed him? Maybe his tank is not clean. Why did he die mom. He was a good fish.”
And I start to feel the emotion welling up in my throat, “Honey, I think it was just his time. We’ve had him for almost two years.”
“Can we get a pet that won’t die?”
“Aw honey, everything eventually dies. That’s how life works.”
Panic strikes him with a new understanding, “Will you die? Mom, will you die? When you get old? Are you going to die first? You’re older than me. Will you die first?” He is bawling and frantic.
“Love, we will all die, but we don’t want to focus on that. Death is as important as living. It keeps us moving and growing and then we make room for more to come and grow and love.” I feel humbled by my little guru who is moving me with his compassion for all life, even one in a body as little as a pink and indigo betta.
“Do you want to have a ceremony for him when Jose gets home?”
“No! I want to keep him here. He’s my Poro!” As the tears stream down his face.
“Remember how you told me the other day that people like Bruce Lee will live forever because someone will always remember him? Well, we will always remember Poro.”
“But I might forget him Momma. Can we keep him in his tank. What if I forget him.” He says in between sniffles.
“Maybe you can draw a picture of him. That way you won’t forget him.”
“But I don’t have paper! I need crayons!” He cries, but I gather everything and he begins to draw.
“He has five points on his fin.” And the paper gets wet with his tears.
When he finishes he goes back to the tank and stares at the lifeless pink body. And he tries to muffle his cry now.
“Do you want to say a prayer for him, so he can be free?”
“No, can you do it?”
“Ok. Dear, God, Jah, oh Universe. Thank you for giving us such beautiful times with Poro.” Elijah covers his face and cries harder, then he looks back at me with his mouth open and sad. “We love Poro and will remember him. Please enjoy him. He is coming back to you.”
“He is a good fish. He is my good fish.” He touches the tank and sobs a little louder. Looks back at me again and by this time, I’m crying.
I learn each day and I am reminded that all life is precious.
We have the ceremony the next day and send him off with the smoke of palo santo and celebrate his life with sparklers. It was a beautiful ceremony, and it was meaningful.