Dear Roman,

Last summer we went to a fundraiser where you went “fishing” with a little net  in a plastic pool. That’s when you caught your very first pet- a goldfish- who you named Calvin. You were so excited to take on this new responsibility who was placed safely in a plastic bag full of water. As we walked home you clutched your prize with both hands. Careful with every step not to dare drop your new friend. As soon as we got home we jumped into the car and headed to the pet store. It was pretty cute watching you walk the aisles with a bag of fish in hand. You picked a round bowl, colored rocks and some fish food. With that we had ourselves another member of the family.

Over the next several months Calvin sat on the counter in our kitchen swimming around and occasionally catching your eye. Charlotte’s too for that matter. Your favorite thing was to watch Calvin eat his food and “do tricks” like making bubbles in water. And then this month Calvin got sick. We started noticing he wasn’t quite as perky, but instead chose to spend his days floating at the bottom of his bowl. Then he developed some red spots on his belly. you were so concerned and insistant on making him better. So another trip to the pet store and a little goldfish antibiotics (that really exists) and you were feeling good about Calvin getting better. Your Dad and I were not so sure. But wouldn’t you know it a week later Calvin’s red spots had disappeared and he seemed to be back to normal. You had no doubt in your mind anything less would be the outcome. All was well. Bullet dodged.

Until Saturday evening. That’s when your Dad went into the kitchen for a glass of water and yelled to me, “oh no!” My heart sunk a little. I knew. Calvin had passed away. Your first pet, the fish you loved and named and cared for had died. The next morning after the normal breakfast routine went down I took you into the kitchen and carefully told you that Calvin had died. Your initial reaction was, “what? how do you know.” Then you seemed really interested in seeing his body which was still in the bowl. So your Dad showed you and then you seemed a little sad, but that was that for the moment. As the day went on I overheard you having conversations with your sister like, “Charlotte Calvin died. He died and he won’t be with us ever again. Died means you never wake up. Did you know that Charlotte?” That evening we had a little goodbye service for Calvin. You were a bit upset that we couldn’t keep him in his bowl. Saying goodbye was a little hard. Seeing Dad flush Calvin down the toilet and Charlotte said, “bye dead fishy. all gone. toilet, potty, dad, all gone.” That was that.

Until tonight. As I was putting you to bed, we were singing a song where we name all the people we love and I included Calvin. Right away you turned to me and said, “No we can’t say Calvin he’s dead.” I was a little surprised by that so I told you how just because Calvin was gone it didn’t mean we had to stop loving him or thinking about him. That’s when you started crying… a lot. You curled up in my arms and sobbed into your tag. Real pain tears. “I miss him so much. I hate dead! I never want another fish again.” I felt so awful for you and yet I was super relieved because there was the emotion, delayed, but it came. I told you how good it was that you were crying. I told him Calvin was a really good fish and that you were a really good friend to him. I told you Calvin loved you very much and would always be with you. Through your tears you were listening and taking it all in. You asked questions like, “What does it feel like to die? Where did Calvin go down the toilet? Is he in the sewer? I never want to be in a sewer. Can I ever see Calvin again? How did he die?” It all just spilled out of you… and I think you actually felt a little better. And you know what, so did I.


One Response to “Calvin”

  1. Pop Says:

    Calvin was a good teacher.

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